Science can solve mining risks, but only if we demand it

As a nerd who grew up on an Iron Range junkyard, I appreciate anything that combines groundbreaking science with homemade contraptions. That’s why I’m fascinated by a daisy chain of unobtrusive barrels floating in an old Erie Mining pit outside Babbitt, Minnesota. They may save our world. Jeff Hanson put them there. Hanson is an… Read More →

The soft focus of nostalgia

If the internet was a forest and we were a sleek-coated American mink, the trap set for us would surely be one of those “Remember when” click bait articles. We can’t lay off ‘em. And it really doesn’t matter how old you are. Sure, senior citizens keep their Christmas tree candles burning for the 1950s,… Read More →

Mosquito memory: the science of the swat

Everyone loves Mother Nature until they realize how many ways she extracts your blood involuntarily. We’ve evolved to be mindful of larger animals that can eat us whole. But while we’ve been worrying about bears and sharks, tiny little animals have been plotting to raid our sweat, blood and skin. It’s like Oceans 11, only… Read More →

Build steel bridges, not steel cages

We’ve outlived our immigrant ancestors. Imprints of hungrier times remain etched on our communities, but they are easy to ignore. The fight for workplace safety and fair pay. The demand for free public education. The streets and amenities built to last beyond the mines on the edge of town. The shared humanity of the many… Read More →

Hot times at the Great Northern Radio Show

We’ll be live with a summertime edition of the Great Northern Radio Show Saturday evening at 5 p.m. The show features music from the Holy Hootenanners and The Don’t Tell Darlings. Our all-star house band led by Katie Houg plans some great surprises. Beyond that, we do comedy and storytelling centered in Northern Minnesota but… Read More →

See all the trucks go by

Diesel fuel smells like home. It reminds me of the idling school bus and the pungent workshop at my family’s junkyard in 1986. Trucks leave deep treads on my memories. Big yellow mining trucks dot the landscape of the Mesabi Iron Range as they have for generations. I played with a Tonka Truck as a… Read More →

Growing opportunity in rocky economic soil

“He smiled and all his teeth were covered with tobacco stains He said, “It don’t do men no good to pray for peace and rain. Peace and rain is just a way to say prosperity, And buffalo chips is all it means to me. ~Tom T. Hall, “Faster Horses” We all say we want a… Read More →

History echoes through Iron Range politics

In 1887, the Merritt Brothers and a crew led by Capt. J.A. Nichols discovered rich hematite ore under 14 feet of mud near the future townsite of Mountain Iron. After three years of wading through stinking mosquito swamps, alternating with hellish winter conditions, these men turned hope of discovering the Mesabi Range into reality. Almost… Read More →

Great Northern Radio Show in Grand Rapids June 23

On Saturday, June 23 we’re bringing the Great Northern Radio Show back to the Reif Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. If you’ve followed this blog, you know that every few months I fire up this massive, sputtering contraption and have some fun with live radio somewhere in Northern Minnesota. And I’d love it if you… Read More →

Hibbing Tourist Senior Center deserves a break

In Austin, Minnesota, Hormel operates the world-famous SPAM Museum. Like Hibbing’s Hull Rust Mine View, there is no admission. They’re actually on their third museum, expanding in 2001 and again just two years ago. I’ve been there. If you want to know how random pork squeezings get turned into nebulous canned meat, they’ll tell you…. Read More →