Five NE Minnesota colleges move toward merger

On Wednesday, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees approved plans to merge five community and technical colleges in Northeastern Minnesota. After a two-year planning period the board will vote again on whether to go through with it. The new college organization, if approved, would be in operation by Fall 2022. These five… Read More →

There was a peaceful school called Rock Ridge

Tonight the Eveleth-Gilbert Golden Bears and Virginia-Mountain Iron-Buhl Blue Devils renewed their storied Iron Range high school hockey rivalry. But this game was less about the final score (Bears won 4-1) than about the announcement made on the ice between periods. Last year, voters from both school districts authorized the building of a new shared… Read More →

MinnesotaBrown’s Top Posts of 2019

We’re closing a momentous year and a momentous decade here at MinnesotaBrown. For most of you 2019 probably did not provide the most riveting year of material from yours truly. You saw 1-2 posts per week. Much less political coverage. Fewer posts about Northern Minnesota arts and culture. It would have appeared to you that… Read More →

Hey Jenna Fischer, here are specific things to know about the Iron Range

As you may have noticed I’ve been blogging less to focus on my new book. So I wasn’t able to click-grab news about “The Office” star Jenna Fischer coming to the Iron Range to film a new hockey movie next month. That’s a shame. One of the most popular posts I’ve ever published was when… Read More →

Cleveland Cliffs acquires AK Steel

Iron ore producer Cleveland Cliffs acquired AK Steel in a deal announced today. It’s a seismic transaction that could have long-term implications for the Mesabi Iron Range. Cliffs will use its stock to buy $1.1 billion worth of AK Steel stock, assuming about 68 percent ownership of the Ohio-based company. Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves will… Read More →

Enter to win ride in giant pink mining truck

Here’s a fun item while I continue work on my book. The Hibbing Tourist Senior Center, operators of the famous and newly re-established North Hibbing Mine View, are running a contest with a very unique prize. You can enter a drawing to ride in a Hibbing Taconite production truck as it leaves the mine and… Read More →

Zebra mussels in Range mine pit raise questions

Northern Minnesota has been standing sentinel against zebra mussels for a number of years. We worry our freshwater lakes could be overrun by this invasive species. Typically, however, we imagine the pests arriving on the hulls of traveling boats and trailers. That doesn’t seem to explain why they showed up in an Iron Range mine… Read More →

Emblematic of his era, Iron Range lawmaker Joe Begich dies

I met Joe Begich in the late 1990s, five years after he had retired from the state legislature. He was a senior statesman of sorts, an uncle at the Iron Range DFL reunion who could offer either useful context or long-winded tangents. Begich was, of course, a dedicated laborite and fierce Iron Range advocate. He… Read More →

Explaining the hot idle

If you’re a regular reader of MinnesotaBrown.com you’ve probably noticed far fewer posts that usual this summer. This is what I sometimes call a “hot idle.” The term refers to what the mines do when they halt production of iron ore but keep their equipment “hot” and ready for a quick restart. It’s usually something… Read More →

The power of getting together for the Iron Range Fourth of July week

Last week, Andrew Krueger at Minnesota Public Radio interviewed me about the Fourth of July tradition on the Iron Range. The piece aired last Saturday. Independence Day brings one of the most fun weeks on the Iron Range. I explain some of the origin story and cultural significance of this week’s activities in the interview…. Read More →