L.L. Bean ‘Bootmobile’ headed to the Iron Range

Growing up in the rural environs just off the Mesabi iron formation, I became accustomed to the machinations of the bookmobile. Well, now Iron Range residents can expect a new arrival: the Bootmobile. L.L. Bean, purveyor of fine boots and outdoor clothing and accessories, turned a pickup truck into a giant boot. Now they tour… Read More →

Remembering Bill Ojala, radical conscience of the Iron Range

Bill Ojala, a former Iron Range legislator and later gadfly social justice activist, died last Saturday at the age of 92. John Lundy of the Duluth News Tribune penned a good obituary (“‘A true son of the Iron Range’: Lawyer, politician Bill Ojala dies at 92“) in yesterday’s paper. Ojala, descended from Finnish-American immigrants on… Read More →

Iron innovation most vital mining challenge for Mesabi Range

I know, there’s plenty we could talk about regarding controversial copper-nickel mining projects in Northern Minnesota. PolyMet has a draft permit to mine. Ely’s Twin Metals got a symbolic boost from the Trump Administration. Persistent and largely meaningless slap fights between mining advocates and skeptics color the pages of the local press. But the truth… Read More →

MinnesotaBrown’s Top Posts of 2017

Farewell, 2017! Another future year over and yet still no flying car in my garage. Nevertheless, the Minnesota Vikings are contenders and Donald Trump is President of the United States, so the past would still be baffled by our present. Let’s take a look back at the year that was on MinnesotaBrown.com. We cover news,… Read More →

Land deal gives Cliffs edge on Nashwauk mine

Earlier this month, Cleveland Cliffs announced that it acquired land associated with the former Essar Steel Minnesota mine project in Nashwauk. At the time, I and others wondered how significant this news would be. Well, the Mesabi Daily News reports that an anonymous source says Cliffs now controls a critical part of the project, including… Read More →

IRRRB boost for school project raises important issue

The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board is winding up its business for the year. As usual, the commissioner brings a number of projects to the docket. One provokes an important discussion about regional strategy regarding school consolidation. The IRRRB oversees a unique state agency, which is actually run by a commissioner appointed by the… Read More →

You could use a sauna right now

The Star Tribune’s Jenna Ross recently profiled the Ely Steam Sauna, a century-old public sauna in this Vermilion Iron Range city. It might seem counterintuitive for Minnesotans to go into a public steam room au natural. Or, for that matter, in the presence of those who most certainly are. We are known as a prudish lot. But… Read More →

Cleveland-Cliffs noses in with Nashwauk land buy

Earlier this year, Cleveland-Cliffs lost its bid to acquire the former Essar Steel Minnesota project in the Mesabi Iron Range town of Nashwauk, Minnesota to Chippewa Capital Partners. However, Business North reports that Cliffs is back on the scene today after buying land and mineral rights previously attached to that project. From that story: The… Read More →

Iron Range newspaper profiles early ‘silence breakers’

On Sunday, the Mesabi Daily News featured a major story about the #metoo movement with a special tie to Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. Penned by editor Jerry Burnes and reporter Leah Ryan, “One of the First Silence Breakers” includes an interview with Lois Jensen, the original Eveleth Mines sexual harassment case plaintiff. This story is… Read More →

‘Blue-Collar Battleground’ opens at Chisholm museum

Job creation. Job training. Worker shortage. Part time work. Stagnant wages. Higher productivity. Health care. Retirement savings. These words filter through our news like water down a pipe, presenting clear evidence that the “labor history” of America is hardly finished. Rather, we’re living in the continuation of an unresolved labor movement. This Thursday, Dec. 7,… Read More →