The cold, cold circle

Readers of my book, “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range,” might remember that I’m a fan of the myth and historical impact surrounding the Northwest Passage. Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range was just one of many regions that early European explorers believed might have been part of the fabled “sea route to the Orient.” The St. Louis River, Lake Vermilion and the mighty Mississippi, all of which originate in this area, enjoy the fame of having once been fervently traversed by spice-hungry mapmakers. Like many who wander the north woods, these explorers did not find their prize, but left behind clues of minerals and timber for future settlers. I know people who’ve drank beer while floating on inner tubes in all these local waterways. Progress!

The dream of a warm, year-round waterway that connected the Atlantic to the Pacific proved to be just a legend. However, there is a real Northwest Passage that runs through all those jagged little islands in northern Canada. Until recently, this passage was usually closed off by ice, but climate trends have opened it, quite possibly because of “global warming,” (quotes used not to dismiss the theory, but to reflect that “warming” isn’t always what happens in human influenced climate change).

One of my favorite blogs TYWKIWDBI (“Things you wouldn’t know if we didn’t blog it”) shared an image and description of a climatological rarity — the opening of the Northwest Passage and the lesser known Northeast Passage north of Russia. For the third time in recorded history you can sail around the world entirely within the Arctic. In keeping with my theme lately, I present this information not as being good or bad, just as being interesting.

Stan Rogers, “Northwest Passage”


  1. Speaking of the Northwest Passage, I just found this article today on the Australian Geographic website. Notices the thank yous in italics on the bottom. *that’s us*


  2. Thank you for the kind words about TYWKIWDBI.


  3. @AnnMarie, Very cool! You guys in Brevig could see quite the economic boom if those trade routes get going. 🙂
    @minnesotastan, Thank YOU for one of the coolest blogs on the internet. I’m geeking out that you commented here. Actually, it probably deserves some sort of higher level nerd term, given the subject matter and characters involved.

  4. I lurk here on an intermittent basis, but don’t typically write comments. As a sort of Minnesota expatriate, I’m always hungry for news and insights from the home state. The closest I ever get to Hibbing is Floodwood, when I drive from Madison to Walker by way of Duluth.

    Keep up the good work with your blog.


Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.