Back to Lesson Menu

Lesson Plan: Moving

For Teachers - An Introduction:
This lesson is designed to introduce your students to historical research with primary sources. They will be presented with a set of six primary sources relating to a milestone in Minnesota history. Students will be provided with source data, online activity questions to direct their study, and a worksheet designed to help them draw conclusions about the sources they have seen and about primary source research in general. The sections of this site are not intended to be complete histories of the people or events involved, but rather serve as examples of what students might find in their own research attempts.

Moving a Town:
When, in the late 1910s and and 1920s the Oliver Iron Mining Company decided to exercise its property rights to mine the ground under the townsite of Hibbing, the town decided to pick up and move 12 miles to the south. Homes and businesses were loaded onto carts and wagons and hauled to the new location. A few property owners were able to rebuild on the new site, but many simply picked up their buildings and transported them slowly over the 12-mile journey. Despite protests and court battles, the town was relocated and mining went on as planned.

What You Will Need for This Lesson:

  • Access to a computer lab with Internet capability for at least one 40 minute class period.
  • Photocopies of the worksheet and a printed key (download both in the Student Materials section of the site).
  • If you have not already done so, we encourage you to explore the site for yourself ahead of time to become familiar with the navigation and features available to you and your students.

Skills Objectives:
The student will be able to:

  1. access primary sources online for research and study
  2. identify and summarize the different kinds of sources in the exercise
  3. identify advantages and disadvantages to using particular primary sources
  4. explain and synthesize source information to evaluate its usefulness and reliability

Using this Lesson in Your Classroom:
When the students are in the computer lab, lead them through the following sequence (you may wish to use an overhead projector screen):

  1. Go to the Communities web site.
  2. Click on Communities on the left hand side of the screen.
  3. Click on Hibbing.
  4. Click on Moving.
  5. Read the introductory material on Moving and click Enter.
  6. This will bring you to a screen with a photograph of Hibbing. This is the first primary source the students will encounter. Let them know that they can see a larger version of this photograph by clicking on the View button underneath the thumbnail image. Show students the Activity button and have them click on it to view questions and possible answers about each source.
  7. Once students have studied this photograph and read the appropriate questions about it in the Activity section, direct them to the other sources that are accessible through the blue menu bar running across the top of the page. Each of these buttons will take them to another source to explore.
  8. Remind students to use the Activity button on each source to help direct their research.
  9. When the students have completed studying each source and reading the questions for each item, they should be able to complete the worksheet they were given (see below).

What Your Students Will See In This Lesson Online:
Below is a listing of each source provided on the Moving section of the web site and a transcript of the activity questions for each source. (The questions are found on the site by clicking on the Activity button.)

Map 1
Click on the Map 1 button to open the primary source.
This is a section of a map of old Hibbing and some surrounding mines.

    1.1) The key tells you that every inch equals 50 feet. Does it matter if the electronic map you're viewing has been shrunk to fit your screen?

    Possible Answer: Yes it does matter. If the map is reduced, an inch will cover much more of the map on your computer than it would on the original map. This is one reason why it's important to see the real primary source.

    1.2) The key also identifies one independent hose cart, the prevailing wind directions, and has a note discussing water facilities. Who would you guess then that this map was made for?

    Possible Answer: You might guess the fire department, but in fact it was made for insurance companies who need to determine which buildings were at the highest risk of causing fires or being damaged by fire.

    1.3) What kinds of buildings could you find in this part of Hibbing?

    Possible Answer: The index identifies churches, hotels, schools, and other buildings, but it is likely that there were plenty of homes in this area, too.

    1.4) What do the numbers between the mines tell you about them?

    Possible Answer: They were not very far apart from each other, and were also very close to the town. North Street is only six hundred feet--two football fields--away from the Sellers mine.


Photo 1

Click on the Photo 1 button to open the primary source.
This is a photograph of an open-pit mine next to the town of Hibbing.

    2.1) What kinds of buildings are off to the right side of this picture?

    Possible Answer: The buildings to the right look like people's homes. They are shaped like typical houses.

    2.2) What evidence in the photo tells you that the equipment isn't being used for construction?

    Possible Answer: The railroad tracks and ore cars plus the large amount of digging that has happened make it clear that this is a mining operation and not a construction site.

    2.3) How do you suppose the buildings on the right came to be so close to the edge of this pit?

    Possible Answer: The homes were probably built before the pit was expanded. As the pit grew larger, it extended closer and closer to the houses.

    2.4) What would it be like to live in one of the buildings to the right?

    Possible Answer: There would certainly be a lot of noise from the mining operations. You would also have to endure any smells that went along with mining, such as exhaust from machinery, and blasts from dynamite, which shook the house.

Photo 2
Click on the Photo 2 button to open the primary source.
This photo shows a house being moved to the new Hibbing location.

    3.1) What might be some reasons for choosing to move a house rather than build a new one?

    Possible Answer: It is probably less expensive to move a house than to buy the materials and hire people to build a new one. A house might also have enough sentimental value that you would choose not to leave it behind.

    3.2) Are there any clues as to what time of day this was happening?

    Possible Answer: The length of the human shadow at the left tells you the sun must be low. It's either early morning or later in the evening.

    3.3) What dangers might be involved in moving a house in this way?

    Possible Answer: If any big bumps or ruts were driven over, the house could become unbalanced and tip off of the wheels beneath it.

    3.4) If the house is on wheels, then couldn't a horse have been used to pull it?

    Possible Answer: No, it would be much too heavy. Many horses would be required, whereas one tractor could do the job.

Photo 3
Click on the Photo 3 button to open the primary source.
This photograph shows a hotel that was destroyed while being moved.

    4.1) Do you think it was common for buildings like this to be wrecked while being moved?

    Possible Answer: Actually it was very uncommon. If moving buildings was unsafe, people would probably not risk their homes attempting it. The article notes that this was the first serious house-moving accident to occur, which suggests that Hibbing did not experience many problems while moving buildings.

    4.2) What could be done to repair a building when something like this happened?

    Possible Answer: Nothing could be done. The building was a complete loss. The article says even the furniture inside was destroyed.

    4.3) How might the building's size have contributed to the problem?

    Possible Answer: It is more difficult to keep larger objects centered on the hauling devices, and to keep these devices centered on the road.

    4.4) What do you think happened to the wreckage from the hotel?

    Possible Answer: A newspaper ran an article calling it the largest pile of kindling (firewood) in the world and invited people to take it. The debris was supposedly gone in three days.

News 1
Click on the News 1 button to open the primary source.
This newspaper article describes the move.

    5.1) The article mentions that moving "is a big operation that can not be done al lat once." What does "al lat once" mean?

    Possible Answer: Most likely they meant "all at once" and the newspaper editor missed the error. The fact that it's an historical source doesn't mean that there can't be mistakes in it. This is not the only one in this article.

    5.2) Does this article give you any information about how long the move will take?

    Possible Answer: It says that a house can be seen moving almost every day, but to know how long the whole move will take you would have to know how many buildings need to be moved.

    5.3) How can you tell from this article if all of the buildings in Hibbing are being moved to the new town site?

    Possible Answer: The article mentions some businesses, including the Cleveland-Cliffs company, that are building a new office building, and the Cleveland-Cliffs superintendent is building a new home.

    5.4) Does the article tell you why Oliver Iron Mining company has been making such large shipments of ore?

    Possible Answer: No, it does not. To learn more, you might compare the paper's date to a timeline of world history to see if there were any events that might have been related to a need for iron ore.

News 2
Click on the News 2 button to open the primary source.
This newspaper article describes a lawsuit against the move of the city.

    6.1) How much time passed between these two newspaper articles being published?

    Possible Answer: You might be tempted to say there are two years between 1919 and 1921, but if you look at the dates it's much less time: about one year and three months between them.

    6.2) Can you tell from this information whether most of the Hibbing citizens were involved in filing the court case?

    Possible Answer: Each article says that 150 citizens were involved, but to know whether this was most of the people you would have to find out what the population was in Hibbing at the time.

    6.3) What do you think people feared that the Oliver Iron Mining company and the village of Hibbing were doing to them?

    Possible Answer: They seem to have been worried that the iron company was getting its way unfairly, maybe by getting the authorities in Hibbing to cause people to move illegally.

    6.4) How long was this case in court?

    Possible Answer: The second article says it lasted two weeks once it was actually heard, even though the complaint was filed in October of 1919, according to the first article.

Thought Questions for online Exploration:
During the online lesson, your students should complete the accompanying worksheet for this section. (Download from the student materials the pdf file containing the worksheet and key.) The questions for this worksheet are provided below. Since questions relating to specific sources are used during the online activity, the following worksheet questions are designed to help students synthesize and apply the material they have learned from the online activity and to analyze the kinds of information and the credibility of various types of primary sources when taken as a whole.

  1. The sources on this site show us some of the perils of making a large change in a community. How can using a variety of newspaper articles, photographs, and other sources give us a clear description of an event in a community’s history? What incorrect conclusions might a historian make if they only used one of these sources?

  2. Special maps such as insurance maps can give us specific information we might not find on a standard political map. How is the insurance map in this unit probably more useful to us for our research about moving the town than a regular city map would be? What other kinds of maps might show us more information about the town and its moving process?

  3. Communities are often built near natural resources (such as iron ore) that provide income and employment for residents. What can Photo 1 in this unit tell you about life for the people who lived in the houses near the mine? How can a photograph like this make the reality of living near a mine more clear than the insurance map in Map 1? Why is it important to use both of these sources to help you understand the situation?

  4. The newspaper articles in this section describe a court action that was begun against the mining companies. How might we find more information about this action? What can a legal dispute like this teach us about the time period and what the community felt was important? What can it tell us about the industry that caused the move?

Extending the Lesson: Historical Themes Moving
You can also use the sources provided on this site to encourage higher-order thinking about a number of historical themes and issues that relate to Moving. Below are possible activities and discussion starters to extend student application of the content material provided in the sources. The information provided in the sources about Moving does not provide a comprehensive picture of these issues, but it can serve as an introduction to a theme or as supplementary material to enhance your work with a theme that is already part of your curriculum.

Possible Themes:
1. Geography and Community
2. Communities and Change

Theme One:
Geography and Community

Objectives:
The student will be able to:

  1. identify and evaluate the role of geography in the development and progress of a community
  2. recognize, describe, and explain the role of geography in their own community
Class Discussion:
In small groups, have students discuss the following questions. You may wish to provide these questions on an overhead transparency or supply a handout for student reference.

  • Consider the geography of your community. What geographic features identify your community? What industries, leisure activities, and businesses in your community depend upon these geographic features for their success?

  • How do you think losing the use of these geographic features (through pollution, new laws, natural disaster, etc.) would affect your community and its businesses? What is being done either to prevent such an event or to prepare for it? What other positive qualities does your community have that could be developed?

  • What challenges does the geography of your community present for business, industry, or local residents? How has your community met these challenges?

  • In what ways has your community used its natural resources responsibly? In what ways has your community's use of natural resources caused a problem for someone or something? What are the problems that were caused? What things can your community do to improve its use of natural resources?
Optional activities:
  • Have students write a description and draw a picture of what their community might be like if it were located in another geographic region (for example, mountains, coastline, tundra). Ask students to explain what changes would need to be made in the community to accommodate the new geographic features and how those changes would alter the way they lived or what occupations were available in the community.

  • Ask students to consider what it would be like to move an entire town. Choose a location about 12 miles from where your school is located and ask each student to prepare a map showing how they would move their home from its present location to the new one. Give them a copy of a local city map and ask them to consider the following: What kinds of machinery might they need for the move? What would they pack and move separately from the house itself (many homes in Hibbing were moved with the owner's belongings still inside)? How long would it take? What roads and streets would they take to get to the new location? What things (inclines, width of road, etc.) have to be considered when choosing a route for the trip?

  • Invite the manager of a moving or shipping company to class to describe what it might take to move an entire town or neighborhood. What equipment would the mover use? What would it cost per home to move? How long might it take?

  • Ask students to consider what kinds of buildings would be the easiest and most difficult to move. Students may wish to study architectural forms to determine what factors need to be considered when moving a building. You may want them to consider the following ideas: How can the age of a building affects its ability to be moved? What impact will the building materials have on a move? You may suggest that each student choose a local building and plan its move to a neighboring community. They can create posters, diagrams, models and create moving equipment to help "move" their building. Have students present these to the class for discussion.

Theme Two:
Communities and Change:

Objectives:
The student will be able to:

  1. evaluate and discuss the role of change in their community
  2. evaluate, describe and identify methods for dealing with change in their own lives
Class Discussion:
In small groups, have students discuss the following questions. You may wish to provide these questions on an overhead transparency or supply a handout for student reference.

  • List some changes that have occurred in your community over the past 100 years. These could be changes in technology (streetlights or telephones), changes in location or development (growth), or other changes that made an impact on the community and its residents.

  • Look at the list you have created. How do you think residents would have responded to each change as it happened? Add these ideas to your list. Discuss how people have different reactions to change and what their reasons for accepting or rejecting each change might be.

  • Which changes on your list would you consider to be good changes? Which would you consider to be bad changes? Why? What impact do these good or bad changes have on your life in the community now?

  • How would you react if someone came to your house and told you that you had to move as soon as possible? What questions would you ask that person about your move? What would you expect that person to do to help you? How might you feel when you heard the news? Where do you think you would go?

Optional activities:

  • Ask students to write a short essay or journal entry about a time in their life when they experienced change. This could be a family's move to a new town, the divorce of their parents, the death of a family member or friend, a chance to join a new sports team or club, a new attitude they adopted, or a change in their school performance. Ask them to describe how they reacted at first, whether or not the change was welcome, and how they managed to handle the change.

  • As an example, rearrange the student desks before they walk in the room. After students have found their seats, ask them the following questions: How did they feel when they arrived in class? Did they feel a little fear about what might be happening because it was different from what they expected? Did they feel excited because there was a change? What other feelings did they have about the change? Have students note their feelings and discuss these in groups. Encourage students to understand that people respond to change in many different ways, and a change in desk arrangement is a small example of the ways in which people can react to larger changes.

  • Have students study a large change that is happening in their community. This could be a change of schools or school programs, a change of government, a change in the student curfew or laws, or other changes that might affect them. What feelings do they have about these changes? What efforts are being made to make the changes easier to make? What feelings need to be considered when making changes like these? You may wish to invite a town council member to class to discuss why this change is occurring and what it will mean for your community.

  • Have students develop a list of things that they can do to make change easier and less frightening for those who experience it and post this list on the bulletin board. (Students might list things such as helping someone who is new in school, holding student council meetings to inform students about new school rules and give them the chance to ask questions, listening to a student who is going through a troubled time in their life, etc.)


 Minnesota Historical Society· 345 Kellogg Blvd. West, St. Paul, MN 55102-1906· 651.296.6126  Copyright © 1999