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Flashback - Rebirth at Babbitt

dmir227's picture

When Reserve Mining closed in the late 1980s due to the bankruptcy of some of the steel companies that owned Reserve many of us felt the mine and plant would never operate again. The trustee did make sure the facilities were winterized and that enough equipment was left so that mining could resume at a lower level should the operation be sold. Reserve ceased production in July 1986 but two possible buyers emerged in 1989 (Cyprus of Denver and Cleveland Cliffs). Cyprus, although with a lower bid, was awarded the former Reserve Mining property and operated its first train on January 5, 1990. Eventually Cliffs would buy the property when Cyprus decided to sell and concentrate on their core coal business.

To help celebrate the reopening of this pioneering large-scale taconite operation the SME Minnesota Section of mining engineers ran their annual fall field trip over the railroad from Babbitt to Silvery Bay and return in September of 1990 (with a pair of gleaming DM&IR SD-Ms fresh from rebuilding). I rode the train and grabbed a few shots on that beautiful day with this particular one showing the engine facility/shop area at Babbitt. This was during the time Ziegler was using the shop to build Caterpillar-equipped locomotives for both BN and Soo Line. As for the 1228 and 1225, they were traded to LRC when new SD40-3 units arrived.

Dave Schauer

Duluth, MN