To build Iron Range economic hopes we must keep working

The steam cloud pouring out of the stack at Keewatin Taconite once again guides my daily commute from the wilds of Itasca County into Hibbing. For nearly two years, the eastern sky bore only the unforgiving blaze of the sun. Now fluffy white billows remind that hundreds of miners are back at work. Unfortunately, KeeTac’s… Read More →

Cheeseburgers, health care & rural identity: adventures in podcasting

At this point, the words “blog” and “podcast,” once trendy markers of an innovative agent of media disruption, have reached the point in their life cycle where the words themselves are pretty boring, perhaps even grating, on their own. But people read and listen to blogs and podcasts in great numbers, particularly if you count the… Read More →

Hibbing opens roads, some streets to ATV traffic

The Iron Range city of Hibbing is opening its roadways to all terrain vehicles (ATVs). Hibbing joins Itasca County and other Iron Range towns in considering and ultimately adopting looser regulations for the popular recreational vehicles. The Hibbing Daily Tribune reports on the ATV ordinance, passed in a March 22 council meeting. It opens up… Read More →

The Chinese engineer who mined an American life on Minnesota’s Iron Range

Wen Ping Pan was arguably the fastest man in China in 1912. Also among the nation’s best tennis players, he had his pick between competing in the Olympics against Jim Thorpe or playing in the esteemed Davis Cup tennis tournament. Ultimately, he did neither. Geopolitical change would radically alter this young man’s life, most of… Read More →

For peat’s sake: making the most of the moist

I grew up in the Sax-Zim peat bog in Northern Minnesota. This glorious 300 square mile swamp provides bountiful food and breeding ground for migratory birds the world over. It was also the site of my family’s ill-fated junkyard where, so far as I knew, all water swirled in rainbow hues. Growing up in a… Read More →

Boomtown Brewery to open in Hibbing at former Zimmy’s location

Amid tough times for small businesses on the Iron Range, one entrepreneurial couple bucks the trend. Eric and Jessica Lietz, owners of the iconic Whistling Bird Jamaican restaurant in Gilbert and Boomtown in Eveleth, will now open a brewery in Hibbing. The Boomtown Brewery will be located at the former Zimmy’s Bar and Restaurant in the… Read More →

Dylan talks hunting, fishing and Northern Minnesota in new interview

Like most who grew up on the Iron Range, Bob Dylan reminisces about hunting and fishing. He also insists there’s a profound difference between Northern and Southern Minnesota. Dylan, born in Duluth and raised in Hibbing, doesn’t give many interviews. When he does, they become their own art form. His answers, rarely direct, ebb and flow around some ambiguous concept,… Read More →

Making our community whole

Last Sunday, the Hibbing Daily Tribune reported that the Hibbing Food Shelf would close later this month. Among the reasons cited was a lack of community volunteers and funding, and the rising cost of food. This happened despite the growing number of people who need the temporary assistance of a food bank. Across Northern Minnesota,… Read More →

Hibbing J.C. Penney store to close

The Star Tribune reports that the Hibbing J.C. Penney store is among eight small town locations closing in Minnesota amid the company’s nationwide downsizing. Other locations include: Baxter, Fairmont, Faribault, Hutchinson, Red Wing, Thief River Falls and Winona. The inventory liquidation sales begin on April 17, according to the Star Tribune. The store will close June… Read More →

Art project to brighten Bob Dylan’s Iron Range hometown

After Bob Dylan received his Nobel Prize in Literature, something clicked in Dylan’s hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota. A group of community members formed the Hibbing Dylan Project, with the goal of celebrating the legacy of the folk troubadour’s Iron Range roots. As I’ve written, I was active in Dylan Days, which enjoyed a 14-year run in Hibbing…. Read More →