A miner poses near the edge of the pit. The pit is more than three miles (5 km) long, two miles (3 km) wide and 535 feet (163 m) deep.
This area of the Mesabi Range was explored in 1893–1894, shortly after the Mountain Iron mine was established in 1892. The early development was as an underground mine, but open pit mining soon proved to be a better choice because of the shallow nature of the ore deposits. The many smaller open pit mines developed in the area soon merged into one large mine. The growth of the mine even resulted in the town of Hibbing being relocated to accommodate expansion. The move started in 1919 and took two years to complete at a cost of $16,000,000. 185 houses and 20 businesses were moved, and some of the larger buildings had to be cut in half for the move. Only a few uninhabited remnants of the original townsite are left near an observational lookout at the edge of the mine.