Minnesota, United States of America (State) 1911 Profile, #05: Soil and Minerals


The surface drifts of the greater part of the state, which are almost wholly of glacial origin, have provided Minnesota with a remarkably fertile soil. It consists largely of a dark brown or black sandy loam, finely comminuted, the richness of which in organic matter and mineral salts induces rapidity of growth, and the strength and durability of which render it capable of a long succession of crops. This soil prevails throughout the southern counties and the Minnesota and Red River valleys, in which sections cereal crops predominate. Toward the east central part of the state there is a somewhat less fertile sandy soil, which is devoted more largely to potatoes and similar crops. The non-arable north-east portion of the state is covered with a coarse granite drift. Underneath the surface are beds of sand, gravel and clays, the last affording material for the manufacture of brick, tiles and pottery. The rock formations of the state furnish building stones of great value.

Minnesota ranked first among the states in 1902 in the production of iron ore. Although the iron ranges in the north-east had been explored about 1860 and were known to contain a great wealth of ore, it was not until 1884 that mining was actually begun on the Vermilion Range. Since that date the development of iron mining in Minnesota has been remarkable, and the increase both in volume and value of the output has been practically uninterrupted. Eight years later (1892) the much richer Mesabi Range, the most productive iron range in the world, was opened up; it soon surpassed the Vermilion in its output, and by 1902 the product was nearly ten times greater. The ore, which in many places is found in an almost pure state, is at or near the surface and the process of mining is one of great simplicity and ease. The quality of ore in the two ranges differs somewhat, that mined from the Vermilion Range being a hard specular or red haematite, while that taken from the Mesabi Range, largely red haematite, is much softer and in many localities quite finely comminuted.

NOTE: This article is an historical reference based on the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, now in the Public Domain. The text is provided through scanning and OCR conversion. There may be transcription errors in the article. Encyclopedia style: 1) For reasons of cost and academic writing style, the paragraphs are long in length. 2) Contributors to articles are sometimes identified by their initials in parentheses at the end of the article. 3) Some articles include a section called "Authorities," a record of all the sources used when writing the article. 4) Information is based on knowledge available in 1911 and may be inaccurate, especially in the areas of science, law, and ethnography. 5) Images and diagrams from the original are not included with article. 6) Do not use this information for medical or legal guidance or any research requiring current information.

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      "Minnesota, United States of America," Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 18, Medal to Mumps (11th ed.), (New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911); digital edition, ( : posted 15 Jan 2013)

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