Iron Range DFL legislative primary pits Lislegard against Hainey

With so many races in the 2018 Minnesota primary, I’ve not spent much time analyzing the only legislative primary on the Mesabi Iron Range. It’s an interesting contest that will test some of my earlier theories about Iron Range politics in a new more volatile electoral environment. DFLers in House District 6B head to the… Read More →

Northern Lights brings Barber of Seville to Iron Range

Each summer the Northern Lights Music Festival brings a fully staged classical opera to stages across Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. This summer, festival founder Veda Zupancic and her company bring Rossini’s Italian comic opera “The Barber of Seville.” The festival also backs chamber orchestra, instrumental trios and kids programming across the region. Events kick off… Read More →

Summer 2018 brings color to Range communities

I drive through Nashwauk, Minnesota, most days. It’s a nice little town, but a little worn down. That’s not unusual for the cities of the western Mesabi Iron Range. These boom towns bloomed in a white pine wilderness a century ago, each at the mouth of a specific iron mine. Now that mining is more… Read More →

Open legislative seat spurs Iron Range DFL primary

We sense many disturbances in the 2018 Iron Range political force. (Apologies. It is May the Fourth after all). Setting aside the roaming Death Star of Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District race, the Mesabi Iron Range also stumbled into an open legislative seat in District 6B. Current State Rep. Jason Metsa is running for the aforementioned… Read More →

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 →

New film explores 1916-17 Northern MN labor uprisings

Filmmaker Gary Kaunonen of KCC-TV in International Falls just released a new documentary about a pivotal time in Northern Minnesota’s labor history. It’s called “Northern Minnesota’s Labor Wars.” The years 1916 and 1917 brought major labor uprisings in the mines of the Mesabi Iron Range and the lumber camps of the state’s far northern pine… Read More →

2017 Northern Lights Music Festival to feature Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’

The Northern Lights Music Festival will take place in Aurora and other Iron Range towns this July 2-23. The organization recently announced its lineup, including its featured opera production, Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin.” I wrote about the Northern Lights Music Festival in a 2014 column, exploring our region’s history as it relates to classical music: Every… Read More →

80th Laskiainen Finnish sliding festival this weekend

This weekend the Laskiainen Finnish Sliding Festival celebrates its 80th year in Palo, Minnesota. Laskiainen is an old Finnish tradition that made the leap to Northern Minnesota during the immigration of the early 20th Century. It’s a celebration of the fact that the days are getting longer, allowing people in northern climates to have more fun…. Read More →

Rethinking strength of Iron Range towns

The small working class towns of Minnesota’s iron ranges were founded for a profoundly simple purpose. Each village cut into the thick forests of Northern Minnesota to provide housing and supplies within walking distance of an iron mine. Few towns grew beyond that purpose. Dozens were were abandoned after a decade or two. As the… Read More →