MinnesotaBrown’s Top Posts for 2014

Northern lights mirrored on lake

Screen shot from a Curtis Lahr Go-Pro video taken underwater in the Tioga Mine Pit near Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

Screen shot from a Curtis Lahr Go-Pro video taken underwater in the Tioga Mine Pit near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The post sharing his video journey quickly became my most popular article in 2014.

Another year of posts are stacked in the virtual silo of the MinnesotaBrown.com electronic archives. The fact that few people ever read the archives when they visit a website is a sad reality of our modern information age. Much to know, little to remember.

As such, today I remember the year that was, the posts you liked, the posts I liked, and the significant turning points in Northern Minnesota news and culture. I’ll start that list in just a couple paragraphs.

This is a niche site, but I like to think it’s fun to read. We doubled page views this year, almost 400,000 in total. About 141,000 unique visitors stopped by in 2014, though that quickly boils down to a few thousand loyalists who come here on purpose on a regular basis. I appreciate you folks most of all. It’s just information, people. Sharing information, ideas and opinions with a goal of making this crazy world  a more tolerable place to live, whether that’s Planet Earth or our little corner of Northern Minnesota,

Today, I have only one request. Please sign up for my e-mail list. Most of you read this site through desktops or on social media. I don’t control what Facebook or Twitter does with my lists of followers, through. Many people who sign up on Facebook, for instance, rarely see my posts. So, I join many independent online other content producers in asking you to please sign up for my e-mail list. I won’t spam you or transfer your information outside this blog. I send one e-mail every night at 7 p.m. if, and only if, I had a post in the last 24 hours. You can unsubscribe yourself at any time.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

If you prefer to follow on Facebook or Twitter I’ll continue to share my work there as well.

Now, on to the lists:

Most Popular Posts (by page views)

  1. “Under the deep clear waters of the Tioga Pit”
    This was the most viral post I’ve ever done and I’m so glad it ended up as my top post. Indeed, this post was three times bigger than the next item on the list. It represents visually something I try to demonstrate every day here on MinnesotaBrown: That Northern Minnesota is a place full of mystery, history, beauty and ruin all at once. I merely discovered the video via a mutual friend; all due credit goes to Curtis Lahr who shot the stunning film below the Tioga Pit waters.
  2. My reviews of the TV miniseries ‘Fargo’
    I sort of cheated here. I took all the page views for my 10 individual episode reviews of “Fargo” on FX and combined them. Taken together, they are my second most popular feature of 2014. Had I kept them separate they would have taken up several of the top 20 spots. I loved this show. Producer Noah Hawley utterly destroyed my strong initial skepticism with a creative new storyline set amid the Coen Brothers dark Midwestern ambiance. I’ll continue these reviews for Season 2 later in the spring.
  3. “Northern Minnesota is colder than Mars this week”
    This post, which peaked early in the year, had been my top post of all time until just last month. I’m rather glad it fell a couple notches, because — while a lovely conversation starter during the “Polar Vortex” of 2014 — the post is essentially bullshit. I mean. I wish it weren’t. But it pretty much was. Yes, Northern Minnesota was colder than noontime equatorial Mars at several points last winter. But that usually happens every winter at least a few times. But CLICK CLICK CLICK GO!
  4. “Mesabi Daily News headline makes Letterman show”
    Something editor Bill Hanna wrote in his ongoing performance art project, the Mesabi Daily News, was noticed and mocked by David Letterman, one of his generation’s funniest comedians. Je approuve.
  5. “Iron Range Fourth of July”
    My annual listing of Iron Range-area Fourth of July parades, street dances and fireworks remains one of my most popular features.
  6. “Report: Evidence of Discrimination at Greenway High School”minnesotabrown.com/2014/12/report-evidence-discrimination-greenway-school.html
    A disturbing report of racially motivated bullying at a western Iron Range school spurred a huge discussion in the region. One young man is dead, driven to suicide. Are some things improving as a result of what happened? Yes. Was anyone ever held accountable for what happened? No. Not yet.
  7. “Business North: Grand Rapids Kmart to close”
    This is where we collectively realize there is a lot of depressing news on the Top 20 list. Don’t worry, it will only make us appreciate the good times even more. But yes, #7 is where an area Kmart ships its pants and dies.
  8. LIVE BLOG: Northern Minnesota Election Night”

    Nolanzilla vs. Mills Kong

    Nolanzilla vs. Mills Kong

    Watch the harrowing twists and turns as DFL incumbents sail to victory statewide, while Republicans snatch the State House of Representatives but fail to take out Rowdy Rick Nolan of the Fightin’ 8th. Also my best news graphic of the year.

  9. “The Good Ol’ Boy Litmus Test”
    A story out of Virginia, Minnesota, angried up my blood last month so I went on a hoot about the Good Ol’ Boys network on the Iron Range. If you liked this one, expect more like this in 2015. Them ol’ boys ain’t reacting well to the changing world around them.
  10. “Not Dark Yet, but iconic Zimmy’s restaurant in Hibbing closes”
    Sadly, this year saw one of my favorite places on the Iron Range close due to back taxes. My friends Linda and Bob, the owners, tried to crowdsource funds to reopen, but fell far short. But wait, it gets worse. After a difficult year of trying to keep that annual Hibbing arts event Dylan Days going without Zimmy’s, a combination of personal factors caused the Dylan Days committee, which includes me, to disband this year. The Duluth News Tribune‘s Christa Lawler wrote a story about this for today’s paper. The good news is our friends in Duluth will carry on the Duluth Dylan Fest, including elements of our Hibbing traditions.
  11. “Rick Nolan: Undefeated”
    My post-election analysis of the hotly contested Minnesota Eighth Congressional District Race was well read. It features the retro-chic data maps of Chris Saunders and details the year’s top political story in this neck of the woods.
  12. “In small Iron Range town, the eye of the tiger blinks shut”
    In which I lament the sad story of my high school alma mater’s football team forfeiting the season due to excessive injuries.
  13. “70 year mystery over the skies of Itasca County”
    This was, bar none, one of my favorite things I wrote this year. A bit of “found history” led me to a cast of characters still searching for what happened to a WWII B-29 over the skies of Northern Minnesota 70 years ago.
  14. “Remembering Mike Simonson”
    I remember my college news radio mentor Mike Simonson, who died suddenly this fall. I miss him. He’s with me when I write, especially if it’s the hard truth.
  15. Find Minnesota Fall Colors 2014
    People love them fall colors. Gotta drive around. Look at those. Wow.
  16. “Range mining giant Cliffs Natural Resources battles takeover today”
    I don’t write about corporate skullduggery very often — it’s not my world — but when Cliffs Natural Resources fell to a corporate takeover this year it was hard to avoid the potential implications here on the Mesabi Iron Range, where Cliffs runs half of the active taconite mines. This story is *not* done yet. What the “new” Cliffs does in 2015 could well be next year’s big story.
  17. “PolyMet hearings highlight our misdirected passion”
    Probably my signature column about the contentious debates at the Environmental Impact Statement hearings about the PolyMet nonferrous mining project in Northeastern Minnesota. I wrote a version of this piece several times in 2014, but this was the most popular one.
  18. “Climate change lands Hibbing on the front of the New York Times”
    Whenever the Grey Lady writes about Hibbing, people get excited. In this case, Hibbing was arbitrarily chosen to illustrate a point about climate change.
  19. “National Christmas tree cut this week in Northern Minnesota”
    This year’s national Christmas tree in Washington, D.C., was harvested from the Chippewa National Forest as a gift from the local Leech Lake Band of Ojibwa.
  20. “Iron Range town reopens ‘secret speakeasy tunnel‘”
    A creative reenactment in an underground tunnel in Bovey, Minnesota, allowed people to pretend there was a speakeasy tunnel down there. Historians quickly shot down the claim, as the building was built after prohibition and the big steel doors were to be used to prevent a flour mill from setting the town on fire. But people love to dress up and drink. Just try to stop them.
My favorite and most newsworthy posts
My favorite newspaper columns

Notable (mostly failed) attempts to produce “viral content”

Great Northern Radio Show

We did four more shows this year at Mesabi College in Virginia, Vermilion Community College in Ely, Armory Square in Park Rapids and the Northern Lights Casino in Walker. Find the podcasts at KAXE’s GNRS page. The next year brings us to North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park on March 7 and the Arrowhead Arts Center in Grand Marais on June 13. Another season of Northern Minnesota shows is in the works after that.

So, some cold hard reality here. This long list represents about 15-20 percent of the posts I wrote this year. Some interesting stuff is still back there to explore in the archives, if for any insane reason this isn’t enough.

Happy New Year! I’ll have some thoughts about the upcoming year in coming days.

Speak Your Mind


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