Park memorializes 1924 Minnesota mining disaster

CROSBY, Minn. — Stories of Minnesota’s mining disaster in 1924 are being memorialized in a new park dedicated to the miners.

The Milford Mine Memorial Park opened Wednesday in Crow Wing County, Minnesota Public Radio reported .

The park is located at the old site of the Milford Mine. It includes an old mine shift and a 450-foot boardwalk. The boards are etched with the names of the 41 miners who died in the mine collapse. It also features the names of the seven miners who survived.

Mud and water flooded the mine when a mineshaft caved in just 15 minutes before the end of the day shift on Feb. 5, 1924. It took nine months for the mud and water to be cleaned up and for the bodies to be recovered.

Anne Hansen’s grandfather, Nels Ritari, died in the collapse. She said the memorial park means a lot to her family.

“It’s just a symbol of what our family has been through,” she said. “I’m just pleased that it’s here. I guess words can’t express how much my family. … wants to come and see this.”

The park has been under development for the past decade and cost $825,000. More than half of the project was paid for through state grants, including about $300,000 in parks and trails legacy grants.

“It’s peaceful, quiet, serene, and it gives people that sense of knowing the history of the site, and the history of the Cuyuna Iron Range,” said Crow Wing County Natural Resource Manager Bryan Pike, who oversaw the park’s development.

The mine is located in the Cuyuna Range, which saw heavy mining activity in World War I and World War II. The area had ore that contained manganese, which could be turned into strong steel for the war effort.

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