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Cramer Tunnel in Lake County

About 70 miles northeast of Duluth, near Crosby Manitou State Park, is a unincorporated community named after its pioneer merchant, J.N. Cramer. There sits Minnesota’s longest train tunnel, connecting the former LTV Steel Hoyt Lakes taconite plant with its ore dock at Taconite Harbor. A recent post on photographer Dan Turner’s Substreet website features a collection if interesting summer and winter photos from the tunnel and surrounding area.

The 72-mile railroad operated from 1957 to 2001, and also saw minimal use from 2004 to 2008, with trains passing through the 1,800-foot tunnel and descending an 8-mile, 2-percent-grade rail.

Check out the seemingly mundane video below by Christopher Muller from Oct. 14, 2008, when a Cliffs Erie train makes the last haul of taconite toward the tunnel. Notice how the sun magically follows the train.

When LTV Steel purchased Erie Mining in 1989, the railroad was renamed LTV Mining Railroad. It closed in early 2001 when LTV ended operations at the harbor. Cleveland Cliffs bought the plant in 2002 and renamed the railroad Cliffs Erie Railroad. Cliffs hired a contractor to claim leftover chips and pellets from the mine using unsold locomotives. The cleanup trains ran until 2008.

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