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Tower, Minnesota is a small city on the shores of Pike Bay, on Vermilion Lake in the northeastern part of the state. It is in the Arrowhead region of Saint Louis County.

Tower was incorporated as a village in 1889, making it the oldest city north of Duluth.

The city owes its establishment to the Soudan Mine, which began as an open pit iron mine in 1882 and switched to underground mining operations around 1900. Owned by the US Steel Corporation, the mine remained in operations until 1962 and is now the Soudan Underground Mine State Park, a small section of which extends into the city's northeastern limits.

The village of Soudan was established in 1885, to serve mining employees, and was situated entirely on land owned by the Minnesota Iron Company, and later the US Steel Corporation. There was ever only one business in Soudan, currently known as SOS, for Soudan's Only Store. The unincorporated community of Soudan has a population just under that of Tower, and has its own post office.

As the mining operations expanded, Tower was created to house other employees of the mine.

The first white settlers in the region were probably the George E. Wheeler family, an Indian agent, and his wife, who taught school on the reservation. Another early settler was George R. Stuntz, an explorer and guide, who was employed by the government to survey the township. He surveyed the Tower townsite for the Minnesota Iron Company in 1882.

John Owens came in April of 1882, charged with building a sawmill for the Minnesota Iron Company. He became the first construction contractor in Tower, working on buildings for the mining operations. The first independent contractor was O.W. Saunders.

Other early settlers included Andrew Bystrom, William Holter, M. Kellow, and Ted Wheeler.

The village was named for Charlegmane Tower, Senior and Junior, mining and railroad investors who were involved in the founding of the mine and the extension of the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad to the region.

Soon after the village was platted, the Minnesota Iron Company built a boarding house for its employees, which later became the Pioneer Hotel. A railroad depot was erected, and a post office was opened in a log hut southwest of the depot. John Anderson was the first postmaster. A schoolhouse was built in 1885, with A.W. Jones serving as its first teacher. The Vermilion Iron Journal began publication in 1888.

The Tower Brewery was opened in the 1890s, on the site of what later became the Iron Ore Bar. The Vermilion Hotel was built in the early 1900s.

The unincorporated community of Tower Junction is just east of Tower, while Peyla is about four miles southwest. The unincorporated community of Wahlsten is five miles south of Tower, and the city of Virginia is about twenty miles beyond that. The Vermillion Lake Indian Reservation is west of Tower, across Pike Bay.

The West Two River cuts across a small portion of the southwest corner of the city, and the East Two River crosses the southern part of Tower.

Most of the city is rural, with its population concentrated in the southeastern portion. Minnesota State Highways 1 and 135 are the chief routes through the city, while the rural northern part of the city is accessed by Hoodoo Point Road.

Tower and the Embarrass Valley, to the south, are the coldest inhabited locations in the lower 48 states, based on average winter temperatures.

The focus of this category is on the city of Tower, Minnesota, although those in nearby Soudan may be listed here as well. Municipal or other government agencies located in Tower or Soudan can be listed in this guide, as well as local businesses, schools, churches, organizations, and individuals.

 

 

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