More smoke than fire: Election 2018 on the Iron Range

For much of 2018, we labored under the premise that Northern Minnesota’s 8th District might be the pivotal race in all of the nation. This would be the place that single-handedly decided whether Democrats or Republicans would control the U.S. House of Representatives. In visions of late night counting and recounting, the eyes of America… Read More →

Vote local; it matters most of all

Every day the children board the school bus. Begrudgingly, perhaps, but they go. We drive to work, quickly or slowly, depending on our enthusiasm and/or punctuality. People walk the streets, gathering in coffee shops and gas stations to jaw over the day’s news. At dusk, the parks and trails. By night we find the theaters,… Read More →

Unloading baggage aboard the Wienermobile

Thirty years ago I was in second grade at the old Forbes Elementary school on St. Louis County Highway 7. My family ran a junkyard out of a trailer house in Zim, Minnesota. That year I won the Weekly Reader National Invention contest. My winning invention was a set of seat belt covers. Colorful pictures… Read More →

Whirling West on a metal bird

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ~ Mark Twain, “The Innocents Abroad” I live in the woods of Northern… Read More →

Trivia battle offers game show thrills

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with game shows. On one hand, I like believing that I’m smarter than people on TV. That’s really the only bar to clear to stay happy in modern society. You just have to stay off those brainiac channels like PBS or Animal Planet. On the other hand, game shows… Read More →

Reading coded language of Iron Range landscape

The youngest parts of the Mesabi Iron Range are the century-old towns spotted along its back like so many pimples. The geology, the nature and even human occupation go back millennia. Nevertheless, most people who live here see “local history” as a mysterious narrative that begins suddenly during the Grover Cleveland Administration. It’s not hard… Read More →

Mapping new world, new climate

We learn in history class about the search for the fabled Northwest Passage. This coveted sea route between the East Indies and Europe promised untold riches to explorers and traders of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries. They searched the Great Lakes, cut inland through Lake Vermilion, forging West. Always these aquatic prospectors crashed headlong… Read More →

Real hope for rural broadband on the Iron Range

Growing up I always lived just outside the towns of the Iron Range. Back roads. Cracked pavement and dirt roads. My family ran small businesses. Some lasted a while. Some not so much. Such is the nature of small business. The ‘80s were bad. They were for a lot of people. School changed my life…. Read More →

Trade war rattles even sturdiest American trucks

Understanding trade policy can be overwhelming. Tariffs. Trade deficits. NAFTA. Currency wars. But pickup trucks offer explicit clarity on how trade policy hits people where they live. Take the popular Ford F-150. It’s the top selling truck in America. You can find a F-150 in almost any parking lot on Minnesota’s Iron Range. This is… Read More →

U.S. Steel balancing act offers economic warning

As the United Steelworkers union and U.S. Steel inch toward a strike, many on Minnesota’s Iron Range wonder why. The economy is good. Steel is selling for a high price. So, why is U.S. Steel playing hardball with its workers? The answer exposes some concerning facts not just in the steel industry, but across corporate… Read More →