No place like our place

Regular readers know that I push for economic diversification and independence on the Mesabi Iron Range. For too long we on the Mesabi have allowed our lives to be defined by outside forces. The most obvious external influences are mining companies. They’re the reason our towns exist but also the reason we live in a… Read More →

‘Taconite Sky Bridge’ now open to Highway 53 traffic

This week begins with commuters crossing the new Highway 53 bridge over the Rouchleau Pit for the first time. As we reported last week, local officials dedicated the bridge was dedicated on Friday, Sept. 15. However, the Minnesota Department of Transportation opted not to allow traffic through at that time due to rain. After the… Read More →

Then and Now: how our economy changed

The wealthiest member of the first Roman triumvirate, Gen. Marcus Licinius Crassus, was so rich that his enemies made a show of pouring molten gold down his throat. Today, you could fill a Roman legion with Americans who are richer than Crassus. Killing them with gold would be a logistical nightmare that only they could… Read More →

Great Minds think aloud at Oct. 5 Quiz Bowl

If you were like me, and for the sake of your social life I hope you weren’t, you were part of your high school Knowledge Bowl team. It goes by different names in different places, but here in Minnesota we call it Knowledge Bowl. Being from the Iron Range, our knowledge bowl tournaments were held… Read More →

Talking Gus Hall at FinnFest

I’ll be leaning harder than ever on my 1/4 quotient of Finnish blood as I prepare to speak Sept. 21 at FinnFest in Minneapolis. Here’s how this sort of thing happens. You might recall that early last month I presented a talk about Gus Hall, the noted American communist leader who was born and raised… Read More →

Cheers to Craigville, where everybody knew your name

This photograph was taken by Russell Lee for the U.S. Farm Security Administration. If it looks familiar it’s because it’s the picture they show on the opening sequence of “Cheers” as John Ratzenberger’s name appears on the screen. Ratzenberger played the annoying but lovable mailman Cliff Clavin. But what I didn’t know is that Lee… Read More →

Highway 53 bridge opens this week

After a short delay from an optimistic August opening, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will open the new Highway 53 bridge this Friday, Sept. 15. This nearly quarter-billion dollar project reroutes Highways 53 and 135 on the east central Iron Range, creating the state’s new tallest bridge over the Rouchleau Pit outside Virginia, Minn. The… Read More →

100 years later, the Power of stories

Lately I’ve been imagining the cadence of Victor Power’s overshoes across the sidewalks of North Hibbing in 1915, the boom of his voice across the street to the people he knew. I’ve been picturing the smooth motion of his oratory gestures, the quick, sly smile that set him apart from other politicians. We can’t hear… Read More →

Hibbing’s Hull Rust mine view on the move

I was trying to remember the first time I ever saw the Hull Rust Mine View in historic North Hibbing. I just couldn’t place it. For people who grew up in this part of the country, riding or pedaling up through the ghost town of the old village to the cliff overlooking Hibbing Taconite was… Read More →

Find Northern Minnesota fall colors

It’s time for the annual foliage report in Northern Minnesota. Autumn means fall colors, which typically arrive here in early September and remain (weather permitting) until mid-October. Deep, rich colors pop a little ahead of schedule here in Northern Minnesota, particularly in the woods just north of the Iron Range where I live. But wherever you’re traveling… Read More →