Top MinnesotaBrown posts for 2012

Happy New Year from! As we conclude 2012 and approach the bounty of 2013, enjoy my annual roundup of the year’s top posts. This is a comprehensive list of the most popular and my personal favorite writing from the year. Which post made #1? Which northern Minnesota politician owns the northern Minnesota internet? Is that a trick question? If you read this blog, you’ll want to read this list. The results may surprise you.

My son Henry at Split Rock Lighthouse during a family trip this summer.



  1. Tall ships will return to Duluth harbor in 2013. It’s always good to start the new year with a plan. People want to know about the arrival of the tall ships in the port of Duluth this summer, which was announced early this year and brought a ton of search traffic here. So, I’m going to cover the sea carp out of tall ships, mateys. Ye asked for it.
  2. Animals escape, drown at Duluth zoo; Flood prompts state of emergency. For the longest time it was looking like this would be #1 this year, but the tall ships caught up near the end. You never want to end the year with the “Animals drown” post on top. The historic spring flood in northern Minnesota, which devastated Duluth, and the community’s subsequent response was probably the biggest story of the year.
  3. Swedish paper profiles complicated story of Bob Dylan in Hibbing. When reporter Kirstin Lundell and photographer Karin Grip visited Hibbing this fall, I had no idea that my link to their Swedish language story about Hibbing, the Range and Bob Dylan would lead to my #3 post of the year. Tack, Kristin och Karin! Jag är en stolt del svensk!
  4. LIVE BLOG: Primary night in northern Minnesota. The Aug. 14 MN-8 DFL primary ended up being closer than the heavily anticipated general election. I put some observers in the field and had my best night of election live-blogging ever. We had some intrigue with a legislative primary in HD-6B as well. Rick Nolan’s big night here foretold his success this fall as he defeated Chip Cravaack to return to Congress after 30 years in the private sector.
  5. Labor organizer Metsa to seek Rukavina seat. Rep.-elect Jason Metsa started his journey to St. Paul with this conversation here on the blog. I’ve found in the last few years that the “announcement” posts for any northern Minnesota candidate that get the most pre-election traffic compared to those of opponents have a perfect record of predicting the eventual outcome. True of Cravaack in 2010, Melin last year, Nolan and, now, Metsa. Congratulations, Jason!
  6. Iron Range Fourth of July 2012. My annual roundup of Iron Range Independence Day parades, street dances and fireworks displays is always a reader favorite.
  7. Range survives redistricting but western battle looms. After the new legislative and congressional district maps came out, we were awash in analysis. I broke it down and we got our first look at that doozy of a district in Minnesota’s 5th Senate District. The DFL swept SD5, HD5A and HD5B in this year’s election.
  8. Range Shrine Circus opens today in Hibbing. I share information on the circus and make a joke about the MN-8 DFL convention. At least these animals didn’t drown.
  9. Rukavina retires, marking end of an Iron Range era. Along with the congressional race, the top political story from the Range this year.
  10. Trampled by Turtles delivers big on Letterman show. You know who had a good year? The Duluth-based progressive bluegrass band Trampled by Turtles, to whom I linked generously as they made national TV appearances and release a fine new album. Now, to get them on my radio show.

This list includes posts written in 2012. Two older posts also cracked the top ten in traffic this year:

The nine circles of hell. You know, for fun” is still my #1 post of all time and was #1 again this year. It concerns me that the search traffic here is almost certainly from college students looking for things to include in reports, who then find my sarcastic comments about a book I never finished.

Second, as Asian carp continue to infiltrate the news (and our lakes and rivers), my “This is a post about carp” also had staying power in 2012. I excluded these from the top 10, though they’d both have otherwise made it.

I wrote more than 500 posts this year, matching my production the previous year. Traffic was up slightly and I made significant gains in followers on the blog’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. Join in, if you’ve missed out.

We did four episodes of the Great Northern Radio Show, the variety program I produce and host for Northern Community Radio, in 2012 — each broadcast live from unique theaters around northern Minnesota. You can hear the Bemidji show “A New Hope in the Headwaters” from the Chief Theater; the Brainerd show “Maybe About Trains” from Central Lakes Community College; the Eveleth show “Home on the Range” from the Boardman Auditorium at EGHS, and the Bigfork holiday show “Christmas on Edge” from the Edge Center for the Arts.

I’m also rather proud of this essay about the frogs that lived in the swamp near the Iron Range junkyard where I grew up. You might like the one I did about typewriters and our times.

In addition to the Primary Live Blog above, I live blogged the big one in November.

The year brought my first effort at multi-media reporting with a series of audio/video interviews with MN-8 DFL candidates. Perhaps you’d like to check out the interview of our incoming Congressman Rick Nolan. Efforts to interview Rep. Chip Cravaack were unsuccessful.

Diehards may wish to review my “MN8” archive. The best there might be “Tempest winds lean hard on North Country’s MN-8 race.”

My newspaper columns never seem to tear up the internet, but a few did well this year. I have written a continuous Sunday newspaper column for the Hibbing Daily Tribune since June of 2001, more than 11 years now. Here are my most popular columns, followed by some of my favorites:

  1. Dylan’s Minnesota story shows poetry in motion
  2. The Swedish Connection
  3. Love, like iron, stands up to pressure, time
  4. We support ourselves; we support each other
  5. The map is dead; long live the map
  6. A magnetic pull to the future

You might also like the pre-election “Iron Range political universe to change” and post-election “Atop hill of slime, a clear view of northern political landscape.” Also, “To those that would divide us, remember the Sneetches,” “The blurring line between (218) and (612),” “We don’t get it; any of it,” and “Death and taxes can’t be stopped; unfairness can.” Some deeper thoughts with “To age firmly like the mighty oak,” “Hill of Three Waters,” and “When the waters come.”I had some fun with “Better Venison with Wolfgang Buck,” “Autumn News from the North Country,” “Bugs of the Modern Democracy,” “This Old LEGO House,” and “A toilet story.” I traveled to Atlanta in October and documented the trip in “Separating the sacred from the sugar water.” 

Here are some blog posts I enjoyed writing this year, some of which were popular but didn’t crack the Top 10, and some of which were missed or ignored by most of my human readers.

Also, updates on Highway 53’s rerouting near Virginia and Eveleth, though you might prefer my dramatized version: Highway 53: Herbie rides the Range;

Stay tuned for another year of posts from my favorite place in the world. Who knows what and and who knows why? Glorious, it be.


  1. yes, this one is definitely your best post of the year! (just kidding) really, good work all around aaron! bravo! -maggie montgomery

  2. Congratulations on the well-deserved recognition.

  3. Thank you, Stan! And thanks Maggie, too! Very kind of you.

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