The focus of the video is on moving taconite, either as pellets or raw rock, by rail from the mines and processing plants to the docks on Lake Superior at Duluth, Superior, Silver Bay and Taconite Harbor.
The Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway is first followed from EVTAC's raw taconite loader in Eveleth to the processing plant 10 miles to the south. After a tour of United States Steel's Minntac processing plant, Missabe pellet trains are shown on the line to Duluth with limestone in side-dump cars headed north (some footage from the mid-1980s). After a tour of Proctor Yard, the brake shoe smoke-enshrouded loaded trains are shown headed for the dock. The Missabe is then followed on the scenic line from the Iron Range to Two Harbors and out onto Dock #1.
The Burlington Northern/BNSF is next from the three plants it serves to Superior, Wisconsin and beyond with all-rail trains. Cliffs Northshore Mining's railroad operations are viewed from various remote locations to the processing plant at Silver Bay. Also includes photographs of predecessor companies Reserve Mining and Cyprus Northshore.
The final taconite hauler is Erie Mining/LTV Steel Mining. The tour starts in the mine, on to the mine-to-plant ALCO-powered trains, following the pellet trains from the plant on the 72-mile mainline and then out onto the dock at Taconite Harbor. The mainline trains feature EMD F-9s and later power at the end of operations (includes footage of Erie Mining).
Prairie Works, DVD video, 115 min., color.