Marquette Iron Range

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The Marquette Iron Range is a deposit of iron ore located in Marquette County, Michigan, largely in and around the towns of Ishpeming and Negaunee. It is a smaller counterpart of Minnesota's Mesabi Range. The iron ore of the Marquette Range has been mined continuously from 1847 until the present day. Marquette Iron Range is the deposit's popular and commercial name; it is also known to geologists as the Negaunee Iron Formation.


The Marquette Iron Range was discovered in 1844 by a party of surveyors led by William A. Burt, who found that their sensitive magnetic compasses produced skewed results because of the concentration of iron in the land they were surveying. Mining began in 1847. At first, the hematite iron ore of the Marquette Range was smelted with local charcoal into pig iron, but after the opening of the first Soo Canal in 1855 the iron ore itself began to be shipped down the Great Lakes from the newly developed port city of Marquette.[1]

Capitalists from Cleveland played a key role in the development of the Marquette Iron Range, and the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company had acquired a controlling influence on the Range by 1890.

The iron range today[edit]

Cliffs Mine on Marquette Range

As of 2009, the Cleveland-Cliffs' Empire Mine and Tilden Mine continue to produce iron ore from the Marquette Range. Cleveland-Cliffs ships the ore by a wholly owned short-line railroad, the Lake Superior and Ishpeming, to Marquette for transport by lake freighter to steel mills in the lower Great Lakes.

The Marquette Iron Range became a Michigan registered historic site in 1957 as S-0035.[1] The Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum in Ishpeming celebrates the history of the iron ore deposit and its miners.


  1. ^ a b ""Marquette Iron Range"". Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries. Retrieved 2008-10-10.