For over 30 years, Atikokan was home to 2 mining companies, Steep Rock Iron Mines and Caland Ore Company. In 1938 prospector, Julian Cross, discovered ore beneath Steep Rock Lake, north of Atikokan. One year later, SRIM (Steep Rock Iron Mines) was formed, but initial underground attempts flooded out. Because of the war, demand for ore was high. It was decided, under the engineering genius of "Pop" Fotheringham, to divert the Seine River system, approximately 10 miles so it wouldn't flow through Steep Rock Lake, then drain and dam the lake to reach the ore.
Over 110 million yards of silt, gravel and rock were removed by two electric dredges, "Steep Rock" and "Marmion". Caland Ore Co. leased Falls Bay from SRIM and their dredges brought the total area cleared for mining to 2.5 sq. mi. with a total of 270 million tons of lake bottom removed. The first phase was double the earth removed for the Panama Canal in 1/2 the time, with enough water pumped in 8 hours to supply all of Montreal for 24 hours. In one week, one dredge alone removed the same amount of earth as was taken from Toronto's Yonge Street subway excavation. The over 63 million tons of high grade ore hauled from the pits at the bottom of Steep Rock Lake was enough to produce every steel part in every automobile ever driven in Canada (ca 1970).
Both companies planned for long-term development of up to 100 years, but the growth of taconite, a new ore processing technology, made our ore less economical. By 1980, both mines closed. Despite these closures, Atikokan progresses into the future. This founded the town of Atikokan.
For more detailed information on the Town of Atikokan and its history, please link to the following informative websites.