Minnesota: charging toward greatness

Today is July 2, the actual birthday of the United States of America. (Ask John Adams about that. He abhorred that officials selected July 4, the date of the paperwork being filed, as the holiday).   July 2 is also the anniversary of the charge of the First Minnesota Volunteers on the second day of the… Read More →

Cold war bombs in the bogs of Northern MN

I came across a fascinating piece of Northern Minnesota history in this Doug Easthouse article “Bombing the Big Bog” in the Minnesota DNR publication, Minnesota Conservation Volunteer. Northern Minnesota gets a lot of attention for its timber and minerals, but it’s also home to many thousand of acres of rich peat bogs. Some of these… Read More →

History’s human forge

Throngs of civilians gather inside the ramparts of Fort Snelling in St. Paul. The heat, nearly 100 degrees, oppresses all movement. Ladies fan themselves while the men soak stiff collars with sweat. Cooks fry and boil a feast over open flames; the smell hangs heavy in the air. At once a light breeze blows in… Read More →

Debunking many immigrant family legends

Every year I read the names at the Hibbing Community College graduation ceremony. That means I’ve become unusually accustomed to pronouncing names that originate from areas all over Europe. In recent years, an influx of students from Africa have added new challenges to my elocution. I am from a land of immigrants but walk around… Read More →

‘Mr. Power’s undaunted fighting spirit’

There isn’t much in Iron Range newspapers these days that can rightly be called “refreshing,” but something in this Sunday’s Hibbing Daily Tribune surely fit the bill. Too bad it was a story originally published 100 years ago. Jack Lynch, my former colleague and neighbor from my Hibbing Tribune days, always does a good job finding… Read More →

The distant barons of Duluth and the Iron Range

As readers here know, we in Northern Minnesota are living in a time of speculation and bewilderment over the machinations of distant industrial powers. The regional economy of the Iron Range is dangling on a bouncing string pulled by unseen actors. But this is nothing new. Same now as it ever was. Zenith City Online, a… Read More →

Tempest winds lean hard on a century

Today, April 14 or what’s left of it, is “Ruination Day.” Described fittingly by the Gillian Welch song, Ruination Day marks the date that President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated (1865), the date the Titanic struck an iceberg (1912) and the date a dust storm consumed much of the high plains amid the aptly named Dust Bowl (1935). Not coincidentally, it was… Read More →

Amelia Earhart on the Iron Range

Almost 80 years ago, on Oct. 4, 1935, the famed pilot Amelia Earhart spoke to citizens in Hibbing, Minnesota, about advances in human flight and previewed some of her upcoming adventures. During her stop on the Iron Range she reassured a nervous crowd about air travel, dismissed the prevalence of air sickness, and explained why she thought… Read More →

‘Mesabi Pioneers’ spins fiction amid rich history

Ever since humans first crawled from the primordial ooze they have made futile attempts to write novels, ultimately abandoning these crude failures inside file cabinets crafted from the bones of long-extinct beasts. So it was in the beginning, so it shall be in the end. I’ve got a botched literary bun in the stone-cold oven… Read More →

Today in Alt-History: North Minnesota and South Minnesota

A couple weeks ago I came across this feature from the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader in South Dakota exploring an interesting intersection of American history. In the time before Minnesota statehood and the dissection of Dakota territory, there was serious talk of splitting Minnesota on an east-west border instead of using the Red River as a north-south… Read More →