St. Louis County in northeastern Minnesota stretches from the international port city of Duluth to the Canadian border. It encompasses much of the central and eastern Iron Range, including Hibbing and the Quad Cities (Eveleth, Gilbert, Mountain Iron, Virginia), plus Ely, a popular gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Duluth sits in the southeastern corner of the county, along with outlying communities such as Hermantown, Rice Lake, and Proctor. With a land area of 6,860 sq. mi., St. Louis County is larger than the state of Connecticut, and includes over half of the Northland’s population.
Major industries include mining, wood and paper products, shipping/transportation, healthcare, and tourism. The region offers convenient access to air, rail, seaway, and highway transportation. It features excellent K-12 and higher education, a thriving medical community, and outstanding recreational opportunities.
Duluth is the largest city in the Northland. It emerged as a shipping and manufacturing hub in the early 20th century, and diversification into healthcare, aviation, and tourism has spurred a renaissance in recent decades. The city is renowned for its natural beauty, as it lines a ridge along the the western tip of Lake Superior and the St. Louis River estuary. There are 129 parks, 11,000 acres of green space, 250 miles of trails, and 43 named streams within its boundaries. In addition to the world’s largest freshwater port, Duluth features an international airport and easy freeway connections to the Twin Cities, plus two 4-year colleges and a technical school.
Hermantown is one of the fastest-growing cities in the Northland, and, along with the neighboring Duluth Heights area of Duluth, home to the largest retail district in the region. It offers easy proximity to Duluth in a more rural setting, with immediate access to the Duluth International Airport and four-lane U.S. Highway 53.