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 →

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 →

The dislocated workers we choose to ignore

NEWS FLASH: Officials today announced the shutdown of a major taconite mine on the Mesabi Iron Range. More than 700 workers will lose their jobs in the midst of an uncertain future for their industry. Here on the Iron Range, stories like this get our attention. We’ve been through them before. Everyone knows what to… Read More →

Money in politics is the ax, we are the wood

We stand miles of hard road from knowing who will be the next representative from Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District. Recent history predicts a tight race, both in the contested DFL primary and in the general election. We also know that it will be one of the most closely watched races in the country. Indeed, control… Read More →

First game for boys creates memories, empties wallet

If there’s one thing I remember about my first Twins game, it was that my family couldn’t walk fast enough. The neighborhood around the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome seemed stranger to me than the twisted wrecks hauled into my family’s Northern Minnesota junkyard. Nevertheless, I kept a brisk pace, well ahead of my uncle and… Read More →

Spring brings a new world on foot

And suddenly the road is clear enough to walk. A little mud but less than usual. Spring came late to Northern Minnesota, but like the prodigal son we welcome it into our hearts. Last month’s winter lamentations hang like deflated balloons in faraway trees. Fresh spruce fingers reach beyond last year’s grasp. Small dumb flies… Read More →

Busting trusts in the 21st Century

When Hibbing mayor Victor Power took the stage at a Minneapolis Labor Day rally in 1915, he lambasted the powerful steel trust for its abuses of working people. Every person in the sprawling crowd knew he was talking about U.S. Steel. Then the world’s largest corporation, the massive reach of U.S. Steel controlled the wages… Read More →

A billion reasons why PolyMet debate misses the point

“Look here, now!” the North-Going Zax said, “I say! You are blocking my path. You are right in my way. I’m a North-Going Zax and I always go north. Get out of my way, now, and let me go forth!” “Who’s in whose way?” snapped the South-Going Zax. “I always go south, making south-going tracks…. Read More →