Iron Range readies for state’s tallest bridge

I’ve been covering the progress of the massive rerouting of Highways 53 and 135 on the east-central Mesabi Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. Though I’ve questioned the routing and expense of this quarter-billion dollar project, the massive 1,100-foot high bridge on Highway 53 now nears completion. And no matter your opinion, it’s a marvel. Officials… Read More →

Iron Range Fourth of July 2017

It’s time for another Iron Range Fourth of July in Northern Minnesota. Regardless of economic or political winds, the region always unites for its uniquely exuberant observation of Independence Day, which lasts several days (up to a month) as celebrated in local custom. Below is MinnesotaBrown’s 2017 Iron Range Fourth of July listing for parades, fireworks displays and street… Read More →

Cliffs announces iron plant in Toledo

Last week, Cliffs Natural Resources announced it would invest $700 million in a new iron briquette plant in Toledo, Ohio. This will be the company’s first entrance into the electric arc furnace market. That means Cliffs will finally produce the value-added iron products modern steelmakers require. They will no longer be limited to varieties of… Read More →

Lyric Center seeks to spark downtown Virginia revival

This Friday, June 16, the Lyric Center for the Arts in downtown Virginia, Minnesota, will hold a silent film festival to raise money for its long range restoration plans. The event will feature brews from Castle Danger brewery in Northern Minnesota and a wide range of classic silent films like the ones that would have… Read More →

New company reaches deal with state over former Essar project

Today, Chippewa Capital Partners is expected to get its final green light from a bankruptcy court in Delaware. This allows the partnership to take over the former Essar Steel Minnesota iron ore mine near Nashwauk. But the company also celebrates equally good news right here in Minnesota. Gov. Mark Dayton and the state Department of Natural… Read More →

A college journalist and the last interview of Gus Hall

Last week, I was the keynote speaker for the June meeting of the Finnish Americans and Friends club in Hibbing. I wish I could say it was because they were super impressed with my 1/8 Finnish heritage. Alas, that was not so. Rather, they wanted to know about an interview I conducted when I was… Read More →

Minnesota marks ‘Get Outdoors Day’ with free state park access

Looking for a cheap road trip? Or maybe you live near a state park you’ve always wanted to check out. If so, tomorrow is your day. This Saturday, June 10, 2017 all 75 Minnesota state parks will offer free admission in celebration of National “Get Outdoors” Day. In addition, many of the parks scheduled special… Read More →

Iron Range marks World Sauna Day ‘Sssssss’aturday

Saturday is World Sauna Day, an international holiday to celebrate the relaxing spiritual steam bath invented in the Nordic nation of Finland. This year, Finland also celebrates 100 years of independence from Russia and Sweden. Both holidays find their place on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range, where large concentrations of Finnish immigrants, including some of my ancestors, arrived during the economic… Read More →

‘Underground Optimist’ celebrates Ely

Last weekend, a new magazine appeared in Ely, Minnesota. Titled “Underground Optimist,” the publication is the creation of three Ely residents who want people in the area to see what’s going well in far northern St. Louis County. Kara Polyner, Greg Cramer and Rachel Colber all moved to Ely for love of a small community with a lot… Read More →

There be titanium dioxide in them thar’ hills

If you’ve never heard of titanium dioxide, you’d qualify as normal. But you’ve probably used white paint, eaten red candy, or applied sunscreen before. All of those products use titanium dioxide. So do plastics and some electronics. The stuff sells at $3,200 per metric ton. Today, researchers release a report showing that the Iron Range region could… Read More →