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While the Men Were At War
part: 1 2 3 4

Zorey Rukavina had the worst job at the Danube -- shoveling the ore back onto the belt when it fell off. It was a never-ending process. "You worked hard but it was fun," she says. The foremen were helpful and easy to work for. "I think they respected the women. We came there to help and I think they respected us for it," she says.

Other women worked outside in the open pit mines. Dorothy Ban and Ann Lendacky are still close friends, 60 years after working together at the Scranton mine in Hibbing.

They were on the track gang. Twelve women and two men laid railroad tracks to transport the ore from the pit to the plant.

Dorothy Ban and her friend Mary sit in the scoop of a shovel at the Scranton mine, 1944. - Courtesy Roz Whalen

"We tamped ties, we spiked ties, we did everything," says Dorothy Ban. "We did just what the men did. We used shovels and sledge hammers to lay the tracks down solid."

Ban says she liked the challenge. "It was something different, something women never did before. And we made good money at that time!"

She remembers plenty of joking around too. "You'd grab your lunch pail, it'd be nailed to the bench. Or you'd open your lunch pail, and someone had put rocks in it."


Next: part 4