View of Virginia, showing a water tower and a line of wind turbines in the distance
|Nickname(s): Queen City of the North|
Location of the city of Virginia
within Saint Louis County, Minnesota
|• Mayor||Larry Cuffe Jr.|
|• Total||19.18 sq mi (49.68 km2)|
|• Land||18.85 sq mi (48.82 km2)|
|• Water||0.33 sq mi (0.85 km2)|
|Elevation||1,437 ft (438 m)|
|• Estimate (2013)||8,661|
|• Density||462.2/sq mi (178.5/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||0662719|
|Website||City of Virginia|
Virginia is a city in Saint Louis County, Minnesota, United States, on the Mesabi Iron Range. The population was 8,712 at the 2010 census. According to a water tower in the middle of town, the city's nickname is the "Queen City", or "Queen City of the North".
Virginia was founded as an incorporated city at 5 p.m. on Thursday, February 7, 1895 by Judge Ayer of Duluth, MN (as reported in the Friday, February 8, 1895 edition of The Virginia Enterprise, which is now known as The Mesabi Daily News). Virginia was the first city on the Mesabi Iron Range to be incorporated into an actual town. The Virginia Enterprise reports that by the time Virginia applied for a city charter, it had a population of over 3,300.
Before the city was first developed as an iron mining community, it was a logging community. Dan. H. Moon of Moon & Kerr Lumber Co. was one of the very first people to develop Virginia. His partner was I. K. Kerr. The St. Paul Glove stated that he took control of Virginia when there was nothing more than a temperature and a location. S. Sivola of Calumet, Michigan is said to be one of Virginia's first financiers. "Muck" McLain is attributed by the Virginia Enterprise as to being the very first pioneer of Virginia. He is said to have dug the first grave in Virginia in the original cemetery before the cemetery was relocated to its current spot. The Enterprise reports that McLain set out for the Range with a shotgun, a barrel of whiskey, and his reputation of truth and veracity. He died the week of Friday, March 22, 1895 (the Enterprise gives no exact date on the death, but reports it in that edition).
Virginia's first elected town mayor, R. McGruer told The Virginia Enterprise on Friday, January 17, 1896 that, "there was nothing but trees, but by September of 1892, we had staked the town off and cleared off the main street. That month the town's lots began to sell. The first syndicate sent Gen. P. W. Scott to act as land agent. The real projectors The Merrits, A. E. Humphrey, and D. T. Adams. The town was named Virginia in honor of Mr. Humphrey's old home." McGruer was one of the very first settlers of Virginia, and his wife was the very first white woman settler in Virginia, Minnesota. The citizens of Virginia gave her a lot on Silver Lake in honor of her being the first woman pioneer of Virginia.
W. T. Bailey played a major role in the development of Virginia. Bailey started a sawmill which put out a lot of production, thus bringing in a lot of money for Virginia before iron ore was discovered. W. T. Bailey has a lumber mill right on the lake until it was razed a few years back. Silver Lake and Bailey's Lake were covered end to end in logs that were to be processed by the lumber mill still. Bailey's Lake is named after W. T. Bailey and his sawmill.
Mining camps built for 19th & 20th century entrepreneurs and financiers like Andrew Carnegie, Leonidas Merrit, Jay Cooke, John D. Rockefeller, William J. Olcott, James J. Hill, and others started the main population boom. With the use of diamond drills, mules, and a massive labor force, the mines were able to move millions of tons per year and ship them out of the Twin Ports (Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin as well as Two Harbors, Minnesota). In the hay days of mining, everything in the city was run by the mines. Mining conditions were rough and didn't pay very well. Many miners were forced to share supplies (in which they had to purchase themselves out of their own income). If a miner should lose his job, he would be blacklisted and forced to move out of town.
By the mid to late 1890's, the mines were booming and setting new records regularly. Newer and bigger equipment was employed as well as the use of electrical lighting started to be put into place. At this time, the Iron Range had some of the best mines in the entire world. Even though a lot of mines saw ample production, early railroad royalties would cause a lot of mines to go bankrupt or profitless. On more than one occasion, mines would operate for years at a time with no profit or dividends paid to their shareholders.
The city's newspaper makes its first appearance in the year of 1894 as The Virginia Enterprise (which would later be now known as The Mesabi Daily News). The first city's editor was named R. McGarry. He was succeeded by D. A. Cuppernoll in 1895. The Virginia Enterprise (aka The Mesabi Daily News) is one of the oldest surviving businesses in Virginia, and has continuously been the number one news source for people in the Quad City area.
The Enterprise reports on Friday, April 12, 1895, "Landlord Johnson of Hotel Svea has this week caused every room in his house to be wired with electric lights, the first house in Virginia to be thus so completely equipped." This is the first account of electricity and electrical lighting being used for personal uses.
Virginia would open its first school by 1894. By its first full year of being in session, it had 260 students enrolled. The original school contained no library, and Virginians would have to wait until Saturday, November 21, 1895 for there to be a public library opened to the public. It had a $3 subscription, and no youth were allowed to take out books from the town library.
The first city elections were held on Tuesday, April 2, 1895. The following is the result of the first election after Virginia became an incorporated city. The results were reported on Friday, April 5, 1895. There were approximately 850 votes pulled for that year. Before the election Dr. Stuart Bates was mayor de facto until the first official city election. The first ever mayor/president was John Owens, who was elected township president in 1892.
|Candidate||Party||Number of Votes|
|Dr. Stuart Bates||Republican||334|
|*E. S. Smith*||Citizen's||256|
|D. C. Christopher||Independent||240|
|*J. R. James*||Republican/Citizen's||643|
The city itself has been leveled two times due to fires, thus shaping how downtown Virginia is laid out. The very first fire happened in June 1893, before the city was even established as a town. Virginia's first mayor stated in The Virginia Enterprise that the city burnt to the ground leaving over 2,000 people homeless, but with the help and leadership of Dr. Stuart Bates, the city would organize and come together again and rebuilt better than before. The second fire happened in 1900. All the building on Chestnut Street, which were all wooden structures, are now made of brick to help reduce the chance of fire overtaking the city again. It hasn't burnt down since the switch over to the brick lay out in the early 1900s. On the tops of some buildings downtown, you can still read the original year or building name on plaques above the top most windows.
U.S. Highway 53, U.S. Highway 169, and State Highway 135 (MN 135) are three of the main routes in Virginia. 8th Street South, 2nd Avenue W, 13th Street South, and 9th Street North are the main in town roads.
Virginia is part of the Quad Cities of Eveleth, Gilbert, and Mountain Iron. The nearby town of Eveleth is the location of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame (not to be confused with the Hockey Hall of Fame, in Toronto).
The area was originally named "qeechaquepagem" by the Ojibwe tribe, which roughly means "lake of the North birds".
|U.S. Decennial Census
As of the census of 2010, there were 8,712 people, 4,242 households, and 2,019 families residing in the city. The population density was 462.2 inhabitants per square mile (178.5/km2). There were 4,738 housing units at an average density of 251.4 per square mile (97.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.7% White, 1.6% African American, 3.0% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.5% of the population.
There were 4,242 households of which 21.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.7% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 52.4% were non-families. 46.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.95 and the average family size was 2.74.
The median age in the city was 44.9 years. 18.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.8% were from 25 to 44; 27.9% were from 45 to 64; and 22% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.9% male and 52.1% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,157 people, 4,333 households, and 2,270 families residing in the city. The population density was 486.1 people per square mile (187.7/km²). There were 4,692 housing units at an average density of 249.1 per square mile (96.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.17% White, 0.46% African American, 2.24% Native American, 0.55% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.17% from other races, and 1.40% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.80% of the population. 21.4% were of Finnish, 13.3% German, 9.9% Norwegian, 8.8% Italian and 7.8% Swedish ancestry.
There were 4,333 households out of which 22.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.4% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.6% were non-families. 42.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.00 and the average family size was 2.73.
In the city the population was spread out with 19.0% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 25.0% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 23.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,873, and the median income for a family was $43,419. Males had a median income of $38,834 versus $22,473 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,776. About 10.6% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.6% of those under age 18 and 10.0% of those age 65 or over.
- W. T. Bailey - Lumber industrialist from 1897 to 1914. His old house is still standing at 816 5th Street South, but his old sawmill was razed a few years back after The Seppi Brother's Inc. moved their headquarters (The Seppi Brother's owned the property at the time).
- Daniel Berrigan – Peace activist
- Jack Carlson – Professional hockey player (retired)
- Jeff Carlson – Professional hockey player (retired)
- Steve Carlson – Professional hockey player (retired)
- Daniel William Carlson - Killed at the Battle of Midway, namesake of the USS Carlson (DE-9)
- Matt Cullen – Professional hockey player
- Mark Cullen – Professional hockey player
- John Gruden – Professional hockey player (retired)
- John Harrington – Hockey player; member of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team that won the Olympic gold medal
- Frank Haege – Professional and collegiate football coach
- Robert Mondavi – Winemaker
- Pete LoPresti - Professional hockey player (retire)
- Matt Niskanen – Professional hockey player (Mt. Iron-Buhl Alumni)
- Chris Pratt – Actor
- Robert W. Mattson, Sr. - Minnesota Attorney General
- Sherman Walt, bassoonist.
- Leonard C. Ward (1917-2001) -- United States Army Brigadier General who served as Chief of the Army Division at the National Guard Bureau and Commander of the 46th Infantry Division
Points of interest
The public high school is Virginia High School. Other area schools include Parkview Learning Center and Roosevelt Elementary. The higher education institution for the city is Mesabi Range Community and Technical College. The Virginia Public Library is also featured as an educational place for people of all ages. Virginia has one private school called Marquette Catholic School.
Virginia, Minnesota has a city band for people of all ages. They play a range of high school level music each Thursday during the summer in the bandstand in Olcott Park. The conductors are Bob Baldrica and Bill Lavato.
Olcott Park is a 40-acre (160,000 m2) piece of land in Virginia reserved for the city's enjoyment. It has a fountain in the northern part built during the Great Depression. Also, there is a bandstand in the center, used mainly for city band performances. To the south, it borders Parkview Learning Center (see education), to the east 9th Avenue West, to the north 9th Street North, and to the west Greenwood Cemetery. The Olcott Park is also home to the Olcott Park Greenhouse. Olcott Park is named after William J. Olcott who headed The Oliver Mining Company, which was the largest mining company on the Iron Range for decades.
|Climate data for Virginia, Minnesota|
|Average high °C (°F)||−9
|Average low °C (°F)||−21
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||20
|Source: Weatherbase |
- "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
- "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-07-23.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved September 12, 2013.
- "Weatherbase.com". Weatherbase. 2013. Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
|Wikisource has the text of a 1921 Collier's Encyclopedia article about Virginia, Minnesota.|
- Media related to Virginia, Minnesota at Wikimedia Commons
- Virginia, Minnesota – City Government website
- Land of the Loon Festival – June – website
- RangeCities.com website