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SEPTEMBER 1955      49

economy and security of the United States are pegged to steel. Steel in turn has been 75 per cent dependent on the fabulous iron riches of the Mesabi Range in Minnesota and adjacent deposits along Lake Superior. When war and postwar requirements wolfed 100,000,000 tons of ore a year, the depletion of U.S. resources ceased to be merely a future anxiety."

An important event in Davis's career was his meeting in 1913 with John G. Williams, a regent of the University of Minnesota, who owned large tracts of taconite lands, and sought a use for them.  "He asked Professor Davis to experiment...Taconite is a rock - technically an iron-bearing chert or shale, one of the hardest substances known to man...[It] is about 25 per cent pure magnetic-iron particles, if they can be sprung from their natural prison. The entire eastern third of the Mesabi Range is overlaid with it to a depth of 175 to 300 feet...The professor went to work on un-co-operative taconite, to achieve magnetic separation of the good iron from finely-ground rock. By 1915 he had perfected the magnetic separator which is the crux of today's billion-dollar industry" Nation's Business (August 1954).

However, the tax problem and a number of technical difficulties remained unsolved. In 1941 the Legislature of Minnesota finally passed a law which placed a tax on processed taconite, but exempted from tax the value of holdings in the ground and capital invested in taconite production. Two years later Davis demonstrated his process, including his newly designed "pelletizer" to representatives of thirteen companies, proving that production of pig iron from taconite was economically practicable. On May 2, 1948 the Minneapolis Star  reported that "for the first time in history" finished pig iron had been produced "from the rock called taconite" at the University of Minnesota's mines experiment station. The following day the New York Times announced: "Using new processes invented by Prof. E.W. Davis... and other methods...low grade ores can now be prepared for use in any blast furnace at a cost of only about $2 per ton."

The Reserve Mining Company constructed a vast taconite processing plant, costing more than $180,000,000, at Silver Bay, Minnesota and named it the E.W. Davis Works. "Started four years ago," Thomas E. Mullaney wrote in the New York Times (June 12, 1955), "this huge development on Lake Superior's verdant north shore will begin pouring out this fall marble-size pellets of concentrated iron ore at the rate of 4,000,000 tons a year. They will move down the lakes to the blast furnaces of the Republic Steel Corporation and Armco Steel Corporation, joint owners of this trailblazing enterprise." The Erie Mining Company, U.S. Steel Corporation and Bethlehem Steel Company have also formed extensive development plans based on Davis's research. Mullaney pointed out that "the nation is assured of a great new industry that will represent an investment of more than $1.5 billion by 1975 - an ace in the hole for America's security and expanding economy."  

[[image: photo of man in a suit and tie]]
[[caption: EDWARD W. DAVIS]]
[[photo credit: Univ. of Minnesota]]

Although the birth of the taconite industry is widely credited to Davis' almost singlehanded persistence, he has said that no one man could have worked out the processes involved; that there are scores of individuals, including his associates at the mines experiment station in Minnesota, people in the iron ore, steel and equipment-manufacturing industries, who should share the credit. Davis' method has been applied commercially to jasper rock in Humboldt Michigan and to magnetites at Mineville, New York.

From his new home in Silver Bay, Minnesota, Davis, who will be a metallurgical consultant of the E.W. Davis Works, will be able "to watch from his front window ore trains arriving from Babbitt, Minnesota and taconite boats steaming off into Lake Superior" (Leonard Inskip in the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, May 22, 1955).

Davis is a member of the American Mining Congress, American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Eastern States Blast Furnace and Coke Oven Association. His fraternity is Phi Kappa Sigma. Purdue University conferred the honorary E.D. degree upon him in June 1955. Following his retirement from the University of Minnesota on June 15, 1955 he was made a professor emeritus. He holds about fifteen patents on ore dressing machinery and similar devices. Davis served with the War Production Board in 1944. He is a Republican and a Mason. His clubs are the Minneapolis Engineers and the Campus. On June 4, 1914 he married the former Jessie Mary Campbell; the Davises have three children, Jane, Martha and Ruth. The engineer has been described as tall and wiry and is called "Bud" by his friends.

According to Nation's Business, Professor Davis is a vigorous dynamo who can paddle
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