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 →

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 →

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 →

A Day in the Life of Biwabik

The Mesabi Iron Range city of Biwabik is making a bid for Minnesota Monthly’s “Best Minnesota Town” next month. Videographer Kim Sampson assembled this short film “A Day in the Life of Biwabik” for the occasion. Several Iron Range photographers contributed their work to the project. I think it’s a rich, sweet visual depiction of… Read More →

Iron Range ore to play big role in #Harvey recovery

By now we are familiar with the widespread devastation of Hurricane Harvey and the following tropical storm and torrential rain. It’s the single biggest rain event in the history of the contiguous United States. We may yet only guess at the totality of the storm’s terrible effect on the people of Houston, their property, and… Read More →