The letter written by my uncle, which I shared with readers on this page last Sunday, got me thinking about “The Albany,” which is how people always referred to it while I was growing up. It seemed that besides my uncle, many other people we knew had connections to that mine or had lived in the location at some time in their lives. For a small place, it seems to have influenced many people.
The following information I took from a couple of sources, but primarily from a wonderful reunion booklet produced in 1974 for the Kitzville, Nassau, Albany Reunion. John Russ was the general chairman. Unfortunately, the booklet doesn’t tell who wrote the various stories about these towns, but I am very grateful for the wonderful memories contained in the booklet.
~Mary Palcich Keyes
1903 was the first year that production began at the Albany mine. By 1907, families with children were moving into Albany Location.
Along with the neighboring Webb and Nassau Locations, there were enough families that in that year the Hibbing School Board agreed that a one-room school should be built to accommodate all of those schoolchildren.
Not too many years later the School Board would decide that younger children would be bussed from these locations, and also from the Nelson Location, to the Kitzville school (which was built in 1911) and the older students would be bussed into Hibbing.
The Mesabi Iron Range was home to over 175 locations and Albany Location may well have been the smallest. There was one row of single-family houses for seven families and also a duplex. People who grew up in Albany remember that the duplex saw the largest turnover in occupants.
There were also two bunkhouses for single men and one boarding house run by Mr. and Mrs. Mobile. The men in the bunkhouses ate their meals at the boarding house. Eventually the Pickands Mather Mining Company, which owned the Albany Mine as well as several other mines in the area, closed one of the bunkhouses and turned it into a community center.
The location included a playground with swings and teeter-totters, a large playhouse with a big table and benches that could also be used for parties, and a homemade baseball field. In the summer, Albany kids would climb over a huge dump behind the houses and slide down the other side into a pond that served as their swimming pool. In the winter, the pond was their skating rink. Large pieces of cardboard let the kids fly down those snow-covered dumps, since few had sleds or toboggans.
The Hibbing Daily Tribune was delivered to location homes for many years by one Barich brother after another. The Barichs, who lived in Kitzville, also had enough cows that they could deliver milk to the Albany and Nassau Locations for people who didn’t keep their own cows. The soil in the area of these locations was a very rich dark earth and the homes in these locations were surrounded by gardens. The Albany Location had no stores, so walking the mile to Kitzville was the closest option for shopping.
Albany, like many mining locations, had well water piped by the mining company to the boarding house, with a standpipe in the street for other households to use. So water was hauled from that pump into a house for cooking, cleaning and bathing.
When the streetcars began to travel from Hibbing to Gilbert, making multiple stops in between, a long wooden sidewalk was built from Albany out to the streetcar stop. The sidewalk was about a mile long and went through the woods. Residents recall that older girls would walk out to the streetcar and perhaps meet boys from the nearby Glenn Location, located to the northeast of Kitzville, who were waiting there too.
The Albany Mine had very high-quality ore, but in 1931 the Great Depression made mining even good ore untenable for the owners. The pumps were pulled out, the pit flooded and some families began to leave, hoping to find work in other mines or in a town.
The company began to sell off some of the houses. However, after nearly ten extremely difficult years, steel production began to increase. Pumps were restored to the Albany and the mine reopened.
But then the day would come, as the huge Hull-Rust-Mahoning Mine to the west of the Albany crept closer, that the larger would swallow up the smaller. The last of the houses in the Albany Location were carted away in the 1940s and even the overburden dumps were removed to get at the ore beneath.
People who had lived there, and grown up there, never forgot life in little Albany Location. They also had the satisfaction of knowing that the ore in their mine, and under their homes, built America.
A good year for building
The year 1957 was a busy year for construction projects in Hibbing.
The new public library’s children’s addition had been completed, along with the new Mesaba Clinic (across from the courthouse) and the new junior high. Remember that Hibbing’s original high school, in North Hibbing, had been named the Lincoln High School. (If you take a little trip to the old town site, you will find the two matching sets of stairs from the public sidewalk up to what was the plaza in front of the school.)
When the new (our existing) high school was built, it was decided to name it Hibbing High School as the Lincoln School was still being used for some elementary and junior classes.
The following article first appeared in the Hibbing Daily Tribune on Saturday, Nov. 30, 1957, as part of an editorial about things to be thankful for in the year.
~Mary Palcich Keyes
Hibbing rejoices in the completion of the Mesaba Clinic, which is so closely related with the clinical and hospital care of this region. It is a token of respect and regard in memory to the older members of the local medical fraternity who for years were connected with the early days history of Hibbing, and who built for the future.
Of all those early day medics who helped to plan the new clinic, only one remains — the beloved Dr. Bob Bowen, who is held in such high esteem by his own profession and numerous patients and friends all over the Mesaba.
The dedication of the new Lincoln Junior High, which has been occupied for several months, is another notch in the educational advancement of Hibbing — a school that is one of the best in the state, practical and progressive, caring for hundreds of students instructed by competent teachers, with equipment and facilities which cannot be compared anywhere in Northeastern Minnesota.
It required the studious planning of architects and instructors alike in originating a school plan which is a monument to education in Minnesota.
Superintendent of Schools James Michie was the guiding influence in providing Hibbing with this modern junior high and the other schools which make up the system. But let us not overlook the fact of the cooperation of townspeople, PTA, labor unions, college and high school alumni, press and radio, teaching staffs, municipal governing bodies, the Chamber of Commerce, together with our own state legislators, who made it possible to dedicate this new Junior High and the elementary school buildings, which all Hibbing shares a pride in today.
The following items are taken from the Hibbing Daily Tribune or the Mesabi Ore, which are on microfilm at the Hibbing Public Library and/or Iron Range Resource Center at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm.
March 7, 1913
President Swinnerton, of the Hibbing Commercial Club, at the request of several local business people today sent a telegram to the legislative delegation from the 49th district, protesting on behalf of the club against the passage of the so-called “daylight” bill, which provides that the saloons of every city in the state outside of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth must close at 9 o’clock at night instead of at 11 o’clock as at present.
Dec. 27, 1957
Brothers John and Leo Canelake, Virginia, will take over the Goggin Candy Shop after the first of the year. They have purchased the store from Allen Tuomela. The opening of the Canelake Candy Shop in Hibbing will mark the return of a Canelake candy store to Hibbing after several decades. The father of John and Leo was a partner in the Canelake store in North Hibbing.
The Canelakes have been making homemade candies for 53 years. John and Leo operate the Canelake candy shop in Virginia. Mrs. Russell Barrett will manage the Hibbing establishment.
Nov. 21, 1979
A new play by local talent Michael Dustrude will have its world premiere at Hibbing Community College Nov. 28 through December 8. “Billy,” which is based on the life of Billy Sunday, has book, music and lyrics written by Dustrude. Tickets are available at the college or Calico Cat.