100 years ago, the town of Hibbing was located about two miles north of where it is today. Growing up with the story of “the town that moved,” and often seeing photos of houses and other buildings up on wheels and being pulled to a new place, I think I took the whole story of the move very much for granted.
It really wasn’t until about 15 years ago, when I got involved with leading tours of Hibbing for visitors from all over the world, that I realized just how unusual is the story of Hibbing. While giving a tour, and often on our way up to the mine view in North Hibbing, those of us leading the tour would casually make mention of the town previously being located “here” but then being moved “there”. Startled, our visitors would ask questions – and then more questions – and then even more questions! We quickly realized that the story of how a town moves is a unique story that many people find fascinating.
During the final years of the First World War (1916-1918) , with iron ore in great demand, the mines to the north, east, and west of Hibbing were growing constantly. It didn’t take long for citizens of Hibbing to realize that the land under their town was going to be in demand as well. However, no official intent was announced. The Oliver Mining Company busily bought up property that surrounded the town, and also many parcels of land within the residential neighborhoods of the original town site of Hibbing, that is, the area originally platted by Frank Hibbing. But the Oliver was not being transparent about its plans for that land. It planned the move of the town for over three years, while also keeping its mines running during that time.
The “New Hibbing” – as the Central Addition in the Alice Location was originally called – began to take shape in 1918. New buildings were in the blueprint stage and the moving and remodeling of existing buildings was quietly planned.
The main business district in the new town would be situated west to east, unlike the in old North Hibbing where the business district was on a north to south layout. Businesses on this new street would be located in brick buildings, not wooden structures like in the old town. North Hibbing did have a fine village hall, high school, public library, and central heating system. But, the new town would have even grander replacements, it was rumored. The largest hotel on the Iron Range would be built there, the widest streets on the Range were being laid out, and the electric trolley car line would be re-located from North Hibbing to the New Hibbing. All these things (with the exception of the public library) came to pass as the calendar turned to 1919 and then into the next few years.
The sooner these attractions were in place, the better. The sooner people moved south, the sooner the businesses would follow, and the sooner the mines could expand.
The following article appeared in the Hibbing Daily Tribune on June 27, 1919. The summer construction season is in full swing. The “Recreation Building” mentioned is the predecessor to our Memorial Building. The town’s central heating system, also known as “city heat” or “district heating”, along with sanitary and storm sewers, was going into the ground at this time. Curbing and well-lit paved streets would soon follow.
It was no mystery anymore- our town was moving.
~ Mary Palcich Keyes
Underground Heating System and Buildings Underway
Work on Hibbing’s new underground heating system, for which E.W. Coons has the contract, started yesterday and the installing of the serving lines will take several days. Work at the new plant is progressing rapidly and from all appearances will be completed at the time specified.
Halstead & Sullivan were given orders yesterday to go ahead with the drawing of plans for the new recreational building.
It is expected that a start on this structure may be made still this year. At any rate, it will be completed during next year and when finished will be one of the finest structures of its kind in the state. It will be a monument to Hibbing’s part in the World’s war and will furnish amusement for everyone, including swimming, curling, skating, and dancing.
The building plans have been altered to include a swimming pool. The ice rink will have a larger surface than the one at Eveleth, and the curling ice will equal the Duluth curling rink.
This article appeared in the Hibbing Daily Tribune one day later, on June 28, 1919.
Real Estate Going Fast
Building operations in Hibbing still continue briskly, and the “buy-your-home” idea is carrying results. The sale of lots in the Alice Location is going on every day.
Max Barber, superintendent of the Cleveland-Cliffs company, yesterday started the erection of a $25,000 home on three acres he purchased from J.B. Connors and what is best known as the Connors’ farm. The office building for Cleveland-Cliffs is now nearing completion.
It became known today that the Meridan Iron Company will start platting its forty acres for residence purposes soon. The forty is near Alice and adjacent to Brooklyn. It is a level piece of ground and makes an admirable location for homes. It is understood that in time the Meridan office will be moved to the new forty.
Building in the various additions to Alice will continue all summer. There is plenty of room for everyone and although the real estate dealers urge immediate buying, some prospective buyers are holding back with the idea in mind that there is enough ground in the Alice addition to accommodate a city five times the size of Hibbing. Real estate dealers come right back with the argument that the longer you hold off, the higher the lot prices will go.
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.
Dec. 7, 1918
A new forty located east of the Central addition, where the Oliver Iron Mining company is building the “new Hibbing,” is soon to be platted, according to information heard in Hibbing today. The forty, which is located between Alice and Brooklyn, is known as the Norman forty, but it is stated that it is the property of the United States Steel Corporation. On the forty is located the Winston-Dear ore dump. But this is to be leveled to the ground and the forty is to be sold for building lots. Centrally located, and with the prospect that it will soon have streetcar service, the forty would be in demand for home builders.
Jan. 15, 1949
Ten Hibbing youngsters have been picked up by the police during the past week for catching rides behind automobiles, the police department said today. The drive against this dangerous practice will continue, the police said.
July 2, 1964
Two former Brooklyn girls, whose husbands are with the State Department, will be in Hibbing this month for visits. They are Mrs. Thomas Murfin, the former Julie Crinella, and Mrs. Philbert Deyman, the former Caroline Tappero. Both men are in the diplomatic service, have been for many years, and have been located in many countries of the world.