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Like other northeastern Minnesota towns, the city of Virginia was created to accommodate the iron ore industry in the area.

Ore was discovered in the area in March of 1892 and were setting new records often by the late 1890s, and Virginia was one of several mining camps built for the financial backers of the mines, as well as for mine workers and supporting industries.

Others came to the area for the lumber, and both became significant industries. At the same time, Virginia had the largest ore-producing mine and the largest white pine mill in the world.

Mines located in Virginia included the Franklin Mine, Iroquois Mine, Norman Mine, Oliver Mine, Mesabi Mountain Mine, Missabe Mountain Mine, and the Union Mine.

Virginia is situated on the Mesabi Range, a sub-region of the Minnesota Iron Range, and part of what is known as the Quad Cities, which include Eveleth, Gilbert, and Mountain Iron, with Virginia serving as the commercial center of the Mesabi Range, featuring shopping venues, industries, schools, and medical facilities.

The Duluth & Iron Range Railroad was formed in 1872 to haul iron to the port of Two Harbors, Minnesota. Later renamed the Duluth, Missabe, and Northern Railway, a depot was established in Virginia by 1892, which later became the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway. The Great Northern Railroad had a depot in Virginia by 1916.

Businesses that were in operation in Virginia by the end of the 1890s included the Virginia Brewing Company, the Hotel Virginia, the Virginia Opera House, and Jackson and Company General Merchandise. By the early 1900s, the city included the Fay Hotel, the Lyric Theatre, the Virginia Lumber Company Sawmill, Virginia and Rainy Lake Company Sawmill, the Jenia Brothers Store, and Latz Brothers Dry Cleaners. By the 1940s, there was an iron ore crushing plant in Virginia.

By 1895, Virginia had a two-story public school with a bell tower. The three-story Roosevelt High School was in operation by 1909, Technical High School by 1915, and the city's schools were greatly expanded by the 1920s.

Fifteen buildings in the city are currently on the National Register of Historic Places, as is its downtown commercial district.

Virginia borders the cities of Mountain Iron to the west, Eveleth to the south, Gilbert to the east, and Wuori Township and the Superior National Forest to the north. Duluth is about sixty-five miles to the south-southeast.

Although the county seat of Saint Louis County is Duluth, Saint Louis is the only Minnesota county with courthouses in three different cities: Duluth, Hibbing, and Virginia. The city of Virginia has had a county courthouse since the early 1900s or earlier.

Virginia has several lakes and other bodies of water within its boundaries, including Bailey's Lake, Mud Lake, Silver Lake, and Virginia Lake, and well as the submerged Rouchleau Pit. A portion of the Pike River is in northeastern Virginia, and the East Two River begins at the outlet of Silver Lake in Virginia and flows southwest.

Parks within the city include Children's Memorial Park, City Park, Olcott Park, Rotary Park, Southside Park, and Veteran's Memorial Park.

The focus of this guide is on the city of Virginia, Minnesota. Websites representing the municipal government or any other government agencies or entities located in Virginia are appropriate for this category, as are local businesses, churches or other places of worship, schools, organizations, individuals, or events.

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