Welcome to MinnesotaBrown.com

Over the past month this blog has come to be the go-to source for information about the House District 5B Special Election. If you found the blog this way you might assume that all I do here is Range politics. Well, there’s more to it than that and I hope you consider following this blog beyond today’s election and aftermath.


MinnesotaBrown is a blog about place: specifically about the Iron Range, though generally about the idea of loving a place even though it frustrates you and has a limited functional economy. I write about modern life on the Iron Range and share this work with a community of online readers in and beyond northern Minnesota.

I was raised in a trailer house on a family-owned salvage yard south of Eveleth. I became a print journalist as the internet rose to significance. My genetic predisposition to the reuse of scrap allowed me to navigate the changes as newspapers went digital and began losing their journalistic edge. I rode the wave to online writing, public radio and teaching communication for a Range community college.

My book “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range” won a Northeastern Minnesota Book Award in 2009 and has led to speaking appearances all over the state. I continue my ongoing quest to tell the story of the Range in a way that matters to folks beyond the confines of the Taconite Tax Relief Area. Upcoming projects include fiction and a possible radio show/podcast.

My work appears regularly in places like the Hibbing Daily Tribune, KAXE-Northern Community Radio, MinnPost and Minnesota Public Radio. I am active in the occasional Iron Range political campaign and (Bob) Dylan Days in the singer/songwriter’s hometown of Hibbing. I help raise three boys in the woods of Itasca County on a hill overlooking a northern forest and a lake. At night I can see the lights of Nashwauk over the tree tops, the steam cloud over Keewatin Taconite and the dim glow of Hibbing on the horizon. Where I live and what I do allows me to observe this world and occasionally participate in its drama. It’s an honor and a responsibility I take seriously, with jokes.

You can subscribe to this site using the RSS feed through a reader, which is how I read most things on the internet now. You can also subscribe by e-mail. You can follow the blog on Facebook using Networked Blogs, a simple app that you can add to your Facebook account. And, of course, you can find out about blog updates and read some bonus commentary at my Twitter feed, @minnesotabrown.

The Sax-Zim bog at dawn along Highway 7.

Red dirt road at the edge of a taconite pit berm. 

 Soudan Underground Mine
 A mine dump as seen from a moving car on Highway 53/169 north of Virginia.


  1. Nice photos.


  2. Thanks, C.O.! Most of these are from the summers of 98 and 99 when I inspected youth work sites for the Office of Job Training. I really should present them in a collection somewhere — I’ve got all sorts of quirky landscapes and every water tower in St. Louis, Itasca, Lake, Cook, Carlton, Aitkin and Koochiching counties.

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