Celebrating the dashed dreams that make Iron Range life

More Iron Range events this weekend, including Doc “Moonlight” Graham Days in Chisholm and Merritt Days in Mountain Iron. The Graham parade is Saturday at 11 a.m. in Chisholm. The Merritt parade is at 4 p.m. in Mountain Iron. Many other events are scheduled throughout the weekend in both cities.

Moonlight Graham days is named for Dr. Archibald Graham, the Chisholm doctor who served people honorably for 50 years, dying in 1965 as one of those celebrated community heroes whose legend fades with time. His name was resurrected, however, with the W.P. Kinsella novel “Shoeless Joe,” which was later made into the famous Kevin Costner film “Field of Dreams.”

Most in Chisholm never knew that Graham was a failed pro ballplayer who  played one inning in one Major League game for the New York Giants, never fielding a ball or coming to bat. Kinsella dug up Graham’s record from the archives and used his story as evidence that a failed dream can lead to a new and enriching life elsewhere.

Meantime, Merritt Days is named for the Merritt brothers, mining prospectors that opened up the Mesabi Range with their own ingenuity and grit. Their small operation, however, fell to the overwhelming capital power of John D. Rockefeller, whose control of the railroads and integration with the steel mills bested the Merritts. Their entrepreneurial spirit created the Iron Range but their failures paved the way for the control by outside powers and “the big man” that exists still today.

Anyway, parades celebrating heroic failures. That’s how we roll on the Iron Range and I actually kind of love it.

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