The cover of this annual report shows GN’s iron ore docks on Lake Superior. This is a lead-in to a new feature in this report: a centerfold display focusing on one aspect of the company. This year, the centerfold celebrates fifty years of iron ore shipments on the Great Northern, during which nearly 450 million long tons of ore had been carried by the railway.
GN’s involvement in Minnesota’s mining industry began when James J. Hill’s son, Louis, talked the old man into investing in mineral properties. Hill eventually bought 67,000 acres for something like $4 million. He didn’t believe in inside dealing, but he couldn’t sell the lands to the railroad because of a 1906 law preventing railroads from owning their own customers. So he created the Great Northern Iron Ore Trust, giving shares in the trust to all Great Northern shareholders. Eventually, more than 700 million tons of ore were mined from these lands returning more than $500 million to the shareholders. The trust was dissolved in 2015.
This annual report has two pages stapled in which apparently are an amendment to page 20. I displayed these pages, along with page 20 itself, separately, which meant that page 21 is shown three times. This will make sense if you view the pages in side-by-side format, but it may be confusing if you view them one at a time.