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 →

Koochiching County at the crossroads

Last Thursday, I was part of a panel for a “Policy and a Pint” forum about Northern Minnesota employment issues. The Citizen’s League and MPR’s The Current sponsored the event. One of the big themes to emerge from the dialogue was the idea that Northern Minnesota needs to attract people. Returning young professionals, yes, but… Read More →

Itasca County shark? A mystery unsolved

Itasca County boasts plenty of critters that could eat you. Bears. Mosquitos. Turkey buzzards. But until now no one’s ever worried about a shark. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported May 17 about a father and son duo who fished a tiger shark jaw out of the Mississippi River near Grand Rapids. Tiger sharks can only survive… Read More →

Cliffs now producing ‘mustang’ flux pellets at Eveleth

After nine months of winter construction, today Cliffs Natural Resources started its new “mustang” pellet line at United Taconite in Eveleth. The $75 million investment will produce special order flux pellets. The “mustang” pellet is a iron ore product specially formulated for a particular method of making steel. It’s more like a traditional taconite pellet than higher… Read More →

The heat seeking missile of generational change

This week I’ll be taking part in Policy and a Pint, a discussion series sponsored by the Citizen’s League and MPR’s The Current. The event, titled “Talent Within the Range,” runs from 6-8 p.m. Thursday at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm. (Tickets are free; sign up here). In honor of the occasion, I’ll be visiting… Read More →

U.S. Steel CEO Longhi to retire; Burritt takes over

One of the Mesabi Iron Range’s largest mining companies will be under new leadership next month. Mario Longhi, CEO of U.S. Steel, will retire June 1. Company chief operations officer David Burritt will take the helm. U.S. Steel is an integrated steelmaker, meaning that the company mines its own ores, produces steel in blast furnaces, and finishes… Read More →