Bureau of Mines Research Center
Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis was the home of the regional offices of the US Bureau of Mines, an organization founded in 1910 as part of the Department of the Interior.

Bureau of Mines was founded in the wake of a series of deadly mining disasters to make mining more safe and efficient. It acquired some land from the Veteran’s Administration in 1946 that a few years before was part of the Fort Snelling Military Reservation. The US Army had been using the plot as early as 1820 for the aquifer that bubbles up there, even through the winter. Called Cold Spring, it provided pure drinking water for soldiers and their horses even through the winter. Not far from the spring, in 1952 the Bureau of Mines began to build a series of long buildings to store core samples for research purposes.

Above my head while taking this picture was the seal of the Department of the Interior.

More buildings quickly joined the core sample library, demonstrating a need for a larger complex dedicated to the BOM. In 1958, after appropriations from Congress, construction began on what was called the North Central Experiment Station–it would later be renamed the Twin Cities Research Center. BOM opened its new complex for applied science on October 21, 1959.

Bureau of Mines’ Minneapolis campus, seen in the 1970s. From NPS 2009.

It researched everything from air filters for underground diesel trucks to mining the surface of the moon as part of the Apollo program. Some of the technologies pioneered here are mentioned in my other articles: Nike Missile Base MS-40 was a water drilling testing station; White Pine Mine Mine was to be an in situ copper mine, until a group of Native Americans blockaded acid trains to the mine. The center was especially known for work to reduce black lung disease and mine fires.

A 15-frame long exposure panorama, taken shortly before power to the complex was cut.

As part of the Balanced Budget Downpayment Act of 1995, the Bureau of Mines was defunded, giving BOM a 90-day deadline to completely shut down. The news came shortly after the center had been reorganized as one of the national centers for environmental remediation. The complex closed in March 1996.


References »

  • "Disposition of Bureau of Mines Property, Twin Cities Research Center Main Campus: Final Environmental Impact Statement. 2009. National Park Service.
  • Henning, Barbara J. "Historical Study Former U.S. Bureau of Mines Property Twin Cities Research Center". 2002. National Park Service.