Eveleth on Eveleth: the Range’s internet problem

The Big Stick in Eveleth, Minnesota.

The Big Stick in Eveleth, Minnesota.

Iron Range newsThough most people there probably don’t know it, Eveleth, Minnesota, made The Atlantic magazine this week. Rose Eveleth, a tech writer for the venerated publication, wrote an interesting personal essay exploring how she came to know the town by virtue of it having the same name as her family.

In essence, she got an e-mail from someone from Eveleth who had set Google alerts for “Eveleth,” but primarily received notices on articles that Eveleth (the writer) had done for various publications. Eveleth then decided to research Eveleth, and using Google maps and a lot of time on the internet and phone, pieced together the city’s history and current situation.

Oh, it’s not a Chamber of Commerce puff piece, to be sure. She sees a town in decline:

Sometimes I daydream about going to Eveleth. I think about reserving a room at Koke’s Motel, a squatty joint with a moose-shaped coat rack in its tiny office. I imagine how, when I check in, the person behind the desk would notice my last name and we’d talk about it. But despite all the Internet time I’ve spent in Eveleth, I have no idea what else we’d talk about. Technology can deliver Eveleth to me through a serendipitous Google Alert, and it can lead me through the town piece by piece, but it still can’t quite let me feel what it’s like to live in a place that’s being left behind.

Not that it’s worth much, but MinnesotaBrown has a pretty healthy hold on a lot of the Google search terms related to the Iron Range. I wish I could say it was just because I was the best writer ever, or because I know what I’m doing in search engine optimization. But that’s not the case. I own the online real estate by squatter’s rights. No one else wants it. No one contests it. Other than the Iron Range Tourism Bureau and some of the newspapers, it’s lonely on the Iron Range Web — which is where an entire generation learns about things for the first time.

It’s time for my annual Fourth of July events post (coming Friday!) and it always amazes me to see what pass for city websites around here. Some of them appear identical, like they were purchased when a website salesperson came through the area. Others appear ripped from the 1990s. I have to call about half the cities because website information isn’t up to date. The main reason my Fourth of July posts are so popular is because people who can’t walk down to the gas station to see the posters have no where else to find the information.

The fact that our communities are tight-knit and still transmit a lot of culture face to face is admirable, and one of the best virtues of the Iron Range. But the staggering and self-defeating resistance to the Information Age is hard to watch. And yes, people do notice.

Of course, Eveleth also noticed this video of the Eveleth Clown Band, which is a point in our favor:

UPDATE: Almost forgot to mention my numerous ties to the city of Eveleth. The Browns are from Eveleth, though I always lived *near* Eveleth, never in the city proper. I did driver’s training in Eveleth, across the hall from Lenny’s Tattoo Parlor. My first two jobs were in Eveleth, the first as a delivery driver for Snicker’s Pizza and the second as an overnight disc jockey for WEVE. I did the Great Northern Radio Show from there a couple years back.

(h/t Greg Seitz)

Comments

  1. Al Gustaveson says:

    “The fact that our communities are tight-knit and still transmit a lot of culture face to face is admirable, and one of the best virtues of the Iron Range. But the staggering and self-defeating resistance to the Information Age is hard to watch. And yes, people do notice.”

    What a telling line that is!

  2. John Ramos says:

    “…like they were purchased when a website salesman came through the area.”

  3. What an excellent find. Even the comments on the Atlantic site are (mostly) worthwhile. Be sure to read the one involving “improbably large ears.”

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