Competitive legislative races slated across Northland

NOTE: This post appears in today’s Hibbing Daily Tribune as part of a news sharing arrangement. Generational change. A historically contentious presidential race. Not one, but two major parties devoted to legalizing marijuana. These factors and more will influence several interesting northern Minnesota legislative races that formed after last Tuesday’s filing deadline. Though the presidential… Read More →

We all fall down

Masked men pelted cars with rocks. A mob stopped all traffic from entering or leaving the city. An opposing horde accosted people on the street, including women and children. Smoke bloomed on the horizon. “Who started the fires?” “Whose side are they on?” This isn’t Minneapolis in 2020. This was Hibbing in 1916. That summer,… Read More →

Hear preview of ‘Power in the Wilderness’ on June 14

For almost four years I’ve been writing a book about the late Hibbing Mayor Victor Power and some really wild stories from early Iron Range history. It’s not done yet but it’s getting there. I can give you some exciting news, though. Along the path of my research I got to know a New York… Read More →

UPDATE: Layman won’t seek third term in State House

State Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset) announced late Tuesday she would not seek another term in the legislature. The surprising news dropped just as the filing period closed, leaving the Republican slot blank if she removes her name from the ballot. “Anyone in public service knows there is a balance that needs to be struck between… Read More →

Even northern towns under curfew tonight after chaotic week in Minnesota

UPDATE June 1: A peaceful night passed on the Iron Range. Further review indicates that internet rumors prompted Range towns to set curfews. Efforts to organize peaceful protests in these towns became wildly misinterpreted. Original May 31: Today, peaceful demonstrations took place in towns across northern Minnesota, including Bemidji, Grand Rapids, Hibbing and Virginia. In… Read More →

The rise of post-commute opportunity in northern Minnesota

Around 1960 my grandfather Marv Johnson quit the Keewatin police force to work at the Erie taconite plant in Hoyt Lakes. He told me that his take-home salary doubled that day. It was the first time he felt confident he could provide for his growing family. There were downsides. For one, the job almost killed… Read More →

Now less than ever

It’s hard to watch TV these days. It’s not just that American society seems locked in death struggle over the existence of objective reality. (Though, that’s certainly not helping). No, the more persistent annoyances are the growing heaps of advertising cliches. And there’s one phrase that seems to have scummed on the surface of the… Read More →

Rites of passage

On Friday Hibbing Community College held its annual commencement ceremony. No, the sounds of organ playing “Pomp and Circumstances” did not fill the cavernous Hibbing High School auditorium. Indeed, the excited students could not congregate in the cafeteria before marching across the stage. For the first time in many years of teaching I didn’t hide… Read More →

Eveleth-Gilbert, Virginia voters approve school district consolidation

On Tuesday citizens in Eveleth, Gilbert and Virginia voted to approve the consolidation of two Mesabi Iron Range districts. More than 77 percent of Virginia district voters backed consolidation while almost 54 percent of Eveleth-Gilbert voters supported the move. Both districts needed to approve the measure for it to take effect. The new district will… Read More →

Another giant awakens

Photographs of early Mesabi Iron Range mining are in black and white. We may identify the gray material in the rail cars as iron because, well, why else would those sturdy mustachioed gentlemen have shoveled it up? But the early open pit and underground mines were very much driven by color — bright, vibrant hues… Read More →