This line was constructed by the Duluth and Iron Range Rail Road in order to connect to the steel mines in the Vermillion Range. It connected with their main Duluth line at Hinsdale, reaching Ely in 1888, and then extended to Winton in 1895.
The D&IR was owned by the Illinois Steel Company, who in 1901 was merged into the United States Steel Corporation conglomerate. US Steel continued to operate the D&IR as a separate entity, and eventually consolidated it with competitor Duluth, Missabe and Northern Railway in 1930 to form the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railroad.
The DM&IR abandoned the Hinsdale-Winton branch line in 1982.