Iron Range readies for state’s tallest bridge

I’ve been covering the progress of the massive rerouting of Highways 53 and 135 on the east-central Mesabi Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. Though I’ve questioned the routing and expense of this quarter-billion dollar project, the massive 1,100-foot high bridge on Highway 53 now nears completion. And no matter your opinion, it’s a marvel. Officials… Read More →

Power plays go beyond hockey on the Mesabi Iron Range

This week the state hockey tournament takes place in St. Paul. This sporting spectacle doubles as a cultural celebration for the people of the North Star State. Once, the whole state bowed to the gods of hockey from our beloved blue collar Mesabi Iron Range. Today, however, the big suburban schools dominate the competition. The… Read More →

The night Ali lit the torch in Gilbert

I spent most of the summer of 1996 nocturnal. Even though I couldn’t tell you much about those days, the nights seemed hotter and more humid than average. This was Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range, a place where winter cold gets more press than the deceptive heat of summer. I was 16. It was my first summer with a driver’s license,… Read More →

Highway 53 bridge progress seen from the air

The Highway 53 bridge project between Eveleth and Virginia, Minnesota, continues to develop at a fast pace. Sure, the mine that required the major state highway to be rerouted, United Taconite, is still idled. And yes, this project involves snaking a new road around a man-made mountain, constructing the state’s tallest bridge across a mine pit,… Read More →

RAMS hires Dicklich as state lobbyist

The Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS) hired former executive director Ron Dicklich as its state lobbyist this past week, according to Bill Hanna in the Mesabi Daily News. You might recall RAMS at the center of a controversy last spring when State. Sen. David Tomassoni was hired to succeed Dicklich as executive direct despite… Read More →

Feds OK environmental review on Highway 53 project

Federal regulators have approved the environmental review for the Highway 53 relocation project on Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. The state seeks to move the existing road — a vital north-south artery for the whole region — to accommodate an old agreement with mining interests who wish to extract iron ore beneath the current road. The… Read More →

Highway 53 funding part of bonding bill deal

State leaders are announcing that a $373 million bonding bill will be part of the upcoming special legislative session, including $140 million in funding for the Highway 53 relocation/bridge project that fizzled out at the end of the regular session. From Patrick Condon in the Star Tribune: Dayton has yet to call a special session, which… Read More →

Timeless sound from Rich Mattson & the Northstars

When they performed in my Great Northern Radio Show in Ely last summer, I referred to Rich Mattson and Germaine Gemberling as “the First Couple of the Iron Range music scene.” The pair, based at Sparta Sound in a nearly abandoned mining location near Gilbert, is involved in so many projects and affiliated with so… Read More →

Local film festival to mark 10 years of ‘North Country’

The sixth annual first ever Duluth-Superior Film Festival opens today in downtown Duluth and runs through Sunday, June 7. Local films and those with a Minnesota connection will be screened for audiences at popular Duluth cultural sites including the Zinema Theater on Superior Street, Clyde Iron Works, The Red Star Lounge and Teatro Zuccone. The festival… Read More →

Iron Range musicians keep ghost town alive

It was a pleasant surprise to see a front page MinnPost feature on Rich Mattson and Germaine Gemberling of Sparta Sound over the weekend. This musical pair and their merry band are keeping the small mining location of Sparta alive with their church-turned-studio a stone’s throw from an active iron mine. From the Nov. 21… Read More →