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Man's Best Friend Helped Name Cuyuna

The Cuyuna Range, located southwest of the Mesabi Range in Crow Wing County, Minnesota, is a fascinating piece of the state's mining history. Here's a quick look at what makes it unique:

Discovery and Early Days:

  • It was discovered in 1895 by surveyor Cuyler Adams, who named it after himself and his dog Una. It is reported that Una was a St. Bernard.

  • Mining began in 1911, with ore deep underground like the Vermilion Range.

  • Rich in manganese, crucial during World War I when other sources were unavailable.

  • Witnessed the deadliest mining disaster in Minnesota in 1924 at the Milford Mine.

Cuyuna Uniqueness:

  • It is the smallest and last to be opened among Minnesota's three iron ranges.

  • Ore quality varied, some soft like Mesabi's open-pit and some hard like Vermilion's underground.

  • Compared to newer towns like Crosby and Ironton, many cities like Brainerd existed before mining.

  • Remained in the hands of smaller, independent companies due to land ownership patterns.

Challenges and Triumphs:

  • Early mining attempts failed due to water-filling shafts, especially in areas under lakes and bogs.

  • The 1924 Milford mine disaster remains the worst in Minnesota mining history.

  • Despite challenges, far-sighted individuals like Cuyler Adams and George Crosby persevered, making the Cuyuna Range a vital iron ore supplier for the nation's steel industry.


  • Today, the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area and Cuyuna Lakes Trail offer opportunities to explore the area's mining past.

  • The Cuyuna Range stands as a testament to the ingenuity and determination of Minnesota's iron ore miners.

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1 Comment

Sara Jampen
Sara Jampen
Dec 24, 2023

The name "Una" may refer to a deposit, feature, or even the name of a mine that was discovered or explored by surveyor Cuyler Adams in 1895 with his dog named Una.

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