Hibbing: Town on the Move. - Minnesota Humanities Center

Teacher Developed Activity, T-DA!
Carol Hoppe
Activity Name: Hibbing, Town on the Move
Seminar: Building America 2008
Grade Ban: 4-6 ESL
For use with lessons about: history of the Iron Range, social impact of open pit mining.
Time Needed: Four 40 minute periods
Materials :
Iron Mining Maps and maps of Hibbing
Printouts of photos and site listed below
Internet connection and access to printer, a computer compatible projector
Prior Knowledge: Students should know the difference between an open pit mine and an
underground mine. They also need to know that explosives and mammoth machinery are
characteristic of open pit mining. An explanation with supported vocabulary is available at
Overview: This activity is designed to present students with varying perspectives and
reactions to a single community wide event in the history of the town of Hibbing, MN.
Essential question: How do different people interpret a common historical event?
Students will be able to locate Minnesota iron deposits and the community of Hibbing.
Students will be able to list advantages and disadvantages to the relocation of Hibbing.
Students will articulate different points of view to a single incident in the history of the
Activity steps:
1. Map Work-Students are asked to create maps to locate Minnesota. They can then
locate and map the three iron ranges (Vermillion, Mesabi and Cuyuna Ranges) within the
state. Next, they will add the location of Hibbing to their maps. Students will then view a
historical map of Hibbing (1927) and explore the online question and answer page
located at
Minnesota Humanities Center
2. The Problem-In a small learning group, students are asked to examine a different map
titled “Map Of Town of Hibbing, St Louis County, Minn. Showing Pillsbury
Addition”(attached). The handwritten notation dates the map at 1896. This is a map of
the original town’s location (also called North Hibbing). Help students interpret the map.
If necessary explain that each of the small rectangles represents an address, a family’s
home or a company’s business. They can then speculate about the lines showing tracks
down South Street. Direct their attention to the smaller, long view map in the lower right
corner, orient the town within this map. Direct students to color in each space labeled as
a mine or “I.M.” (Iron Mine). This will show the town location surrounded by mines.
Next provide them with the photograph of a mining pit on the edge of Hibbing available
at http://www.mnhs.org/school/online/communities/milestones/MOVpho1T.htm
They can then work with the question and answer page associated with this photo
exploring the danger and inconvenience associated with living at the edge of an open pit
3. The Solution-Students can view a short documentary titled “Hibbing, The Little Town
That Stood” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5Xwc7MSzlE (Teacher can upload
this 10 minute film. It may be necessary to enter key words into search window)
Working in groups, students need to compose a paragraph expressing the point of view
that the film attributes to the people of Hibbing when thinking about the relocation of
their town. Students can then read The Town That Moved and record the point of view
expressed for the townspeople by the book.
4. Moving Photographs-Students can view 10 photos of Hibbing buildings in the process
of being moved at the Minnesota Historical Society searchable website located at
http://www.mnhs.org/index.htm and entering “Moving Hibbing” in the search field. The
photos are part of the Minnesota Photo and Art Database.
5. Roles- Students can choose one of the following roles to think about regarding the
moving of the town. Their job is to write a short essay (in the first person) expressing
how the person feels about the relocation, what their part is, and what parts of the move
are important to them. Roles are: a house mover, a housewife whose home is being
moved, a child of the town, a mine worker, a mine owner, a Hibbing business person.
Handouts: Students will need the map of Hibbing and the map of iron formations attached to
this lesson. Primary source historical documents are available online at
Background Information: It is put forth by many Iron Range scholars that the mining
communities in N.E. Minnesota have played a pivotal role in our national and international
history. Iron Range mines supplied about 70% of the iron that went into the steel that outfitted
and transported troops during WWII. Hibbing iron ore also played a critical role in WWI.
Minnesota iron also created the steel frameworks of skyscrapers, railroads and bridges that were
emblematic of the second phase of the Industrial Revolution. Hibbing was and is a premier town
Minnesota Humanities Center
of the Mesabi Range with a proud history dating back to 1893. Iron ore was revealed in rich
concentration underneath the town in the early 1900’s as open pit mines were encroaching on
existing homes and streets. The decision was made to move many of the commercial and
municipal buildings as well as the town’s houses to a new location about two miles away from
the original town site. Some residents saw this as an advantage because taxes paid by the mining
companies financed grand architecture used for schools and town services. Others saw the
moving of the town as an abuse of power, literally striking at the foundations of the sense of
place. The moving of Hibbing began in 1912 and continued for about 50 years. It became a
common sight for local people to witness buildings on wheels slowly making their way to the
new town site. Depending on your point of view, Hibbing has paid a high price for the town’s
industrial history or has been a favored recipient of rich mineral bounty.
Assessment tool: Teach students the 5 themes of Geography. Have them apply at least two of
the themes to the story of Hibbing. Alternately, The rubric below can be applied to the written
Ayub, Kamran, The Little Town That Stood, Intrepid Studios: Minneapolis, MN., 2006.
City of Hibbing, Hibbing, Minnesota, On the Move Since 1893, 1991.
Finsand, Mary Jane, The Town That Moved, CarolRhoda Books: Minneapolis, MN., 1983.
Hibbing Historical Society, Inc., Hibbing The Richest Little Village, Tribune Graphic Arts:
Hibbing Historical Society, Inc., North Hibbing, Reminiscences of a Ghost Town, Tribune
Graphic Arts: Hibbing, MN., 1976
4 points- Student has written a paragraph that logically presents a viewpoint for someone in
their role regarding the relocation of Hibbing. Their work includes at least 4 details and is
written with only a few errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation (2 or less).
3 points- Student has written a paragraph that presents at least 3 plausible details for someone
in that situation. The paragraph is on topic and may include 3 errors in spelling, grammar or
2 points- Student has written a paragraph that contains errors in content or few details or little
continuity. It might contain 3-5 errors in mechanics or grammar.
1 point- Student attempted a paragraph but has not written in detail or assumed the role chosen.
Many errors are present in the quality of the writing.
Minnesota Humanities Center
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