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Present day Hibbing boasts the motto “We’re Ore and More” to encourage Hibbingites as well as others to embrace the idea that Hibbing is much more than iron ore mines. Hibbing has a history rich in culture and individual strength and determination. The founder of the city of Hibbing was born in Hanover, Germany on December 1, 1856 and christened Frans Dietrich Von Ahlen. His mother, who died when he was still in infancy, was of English birth and it was her name, Hibbing, which he assumed when he set out to seek his fortune in the New World. After working on a farm and a shingle mill in Wisconsin, Frank Hibbing settled in Duluth and established a real estate business. During his explorations on the Vermilion Range in 1892 he and 30 other men cut a road through the wilderness at Mountain Iron and discovered the surface indication of extensive ore deposits. In July of 1893 the town site of Hibbing was laid out and named in honor of Frank Hibbing. He took deep pride in its development and by his generous aid Hibbing progressed rapidly. He used personal means to provide a water plant, electric light plant, roads, and a hotel, sawmill, and a bank building.
In 1914 Carl Wickman and Andrew “Bus Andy” Anderson started a bus line between Hibbing and Alice, MN which would eventually become Greyhound Lines, the world’s largest bus company.
Hibbing grew rapidly in its early years as the huge iron ore mines such as Mahoning, Hull Rust, Sellers and Burt provided the raw material for America’s industrial revolution. The mines encroached on the village from the east, north and south and it was eventually determined that some of the ore body actually went under the town whose population had hit 20,000 by 1915.
Negotiations between the Oliver Mining Co. and the town finally brought about a plan whereby the entire city would relocate to a site two miles south near the small hamlet of Alice. The company, for its part, agreed to develop the downtown buildings with low interest loans that could be paid off over the years by the retailers. New civic structures such as Hibbing High School, the Androy Hotel, the Village Hall and the Rood Hospital were also constructed with mining company money.
Hibbing High School’s structure is much the same today as in 1923 when it was built for a grand total of $4 million. The immigrants placed a great deal of importance on education, so the mining company considered spending such a large sum of money an investment to placate the townspeople to agree to the move. Unique hand-molded ceilings in the foyer accent the lavishly decorated 1800-seat auditorium patterned after the Capitol Theatre in New York City. Cut-glass chandeliers of crystal, imported from Belgium, built at a cost of $15,000 each are insured today at $250,000 each. The auditorium also contains a 1900-pipe organ from the Barton Organ Company, one of only two that still exist in the U.S.
The “Town that Moved” included about 200 structures including homes, stores, and hotels. The move began in 1919 and the first phase was completed in 1921. North Hibbing remained as a business and residential center through the 1930’s when the mining companies bought the remaining structures. The last house was moved in 1968. Visitors can see the parts of the original town in Historic North Hibbing next to the Hull Rust Mine – the largest open pit mine in the world.
In 2010 census determined a population of 16,361 in Hibbing, a total area of 186.5 square miles (483 km2). Hibbing is the largest city in Minnesota by area and the 40th largest city, by area, in the U.S.
The most famous Hibbing native is songwriter/musician Bob Dylan, born May 24, 1941 as Robert Allen Zimmerman. Bobby began singing performances at a very early age and continued through high school where he became increasingly interested in rock ‘n roll and formed several local bands. These included The Gold Chords, The Shadow Blasters, Elston Gunn, The Rock Boppers and The Satin Tones. A collection of memorabilia resides at the Hibbing Public Library. Hibbing, and the Zimmerman home on 7th Avenue East, have become a popular tourist attraction for fans worldwide.
For more information about the community, visit www.hibbing.mn.us/ or www.ironrange.org