‘Last Call for the Mitchell Yards’ tonight

Paul Seeba and band at Mitchell Yard.

Paul Seeba and band performs at the Mitchell Yards near Hibbing, Minnesota, during the documentary “Last Call for the Mitchell Yards.” The band includes Rodney Tahija, Robert Seeba, and Tim Kruchowski.

I’m excited to tell you about a new documentary you can see for the first time tonight on WDSE/WRPT PBS North. “Last Call for the Mitchell Yards” shares the story of the Mitchell Yards, an abandoned Iron Range railway station between Hibbing and Chisholm that once handled 80 percent of the iron ore used by the United States in World War II. You can see it locally on Channel 8 tonight during a special episode of Karen Sunderman’s “The Playlist” at 9 p.m.

The show is full of people I know and stories I love that I hope you get to know and love, too.

Dave Aho, owner of Mitchell Yard, standing in the Boiler Room for the documentary "Last Call for the Mitchell Yards."

Dave Aho, owner of Mitchell Yard, standing in the Boiler Room for the documentary “Last Call for the Mitchell Yards.”

Dave Aho has been working for several years to preserve and restore the decaying Mitchell Yards for historical interpretation and cultural activities. He explains his mission in this show, which showcases the expressive photography of Dan Turner and videography of director Steve Ash and Lance Haavisto. “Last Call for the Mitchell Yards” also features readings by Duluth poet Sheila Packa, whose stirring book of Iron Range poetry “Night Train, Red Dust” gave me such a thrill on a warm June night last year. The three poems she reads in this show are among my favorites from the book. The show also shares the music of singer/songwriter Paul Seeba, who was a past guest on my Great Northern Radio Show and just released an album called “Mitchell Yards” that he recorded at Rich Mattson’s Sparta Sound on the eastern Mesabi.

Karen Sunderman was kind enough to let me see a preview of this show. It’s just beautiful, well worth seeing for the sights, sounds and stories that show why the Iron Range matters so much to people like me, despite the constant economic and political frustrations of living here. If you miss the first run tonight, catch the replay or look for it online.

The press release is below:

HIBBING, MN- The historic Mitchell Yards inspire a new generation of photographers, poets, and musicians on the Iron Range. Listed in the top ten of Minnesota’s most endangered historic places, the old Engine House & Machine Shop stars in a special episode of The Playlist.  “Last Call for the Mitchell Yards” debuts Thursday, April 9, at 9pm on WDSE•WRPT’s on PBS North.

Owner Dave Aho is determined to protect and preserve the 1906 roundhouse. It was built by US Steel to service steam trains run by Duluth Missabe & Northern Railroad, and eventually the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range road. Aho views The Mitchell Yards as a testament to Minnesota’s mining history and a tribute to the miners & railroad workers vital to winning World War II.

Photographer Dan Turner captures remnants of the building’s past and purpose in haunting images. His passion for lost history and the stories behind disappearing buildings like the Mitchell Engine House blend in Substreet, his online blog where guerilla history and fine art photography meet.

Duluth, MN, poet Sheila Packa, a Biwabik native, readers from her "Night Train, Red Dust" during "Last Call for the Mitchell Yards."

Duluth, MN, poet Sheila Packa, a Biwabik native, readers from her “Night Train, Red Dust” during “Last Call for the Mitchell Yards.”

Biwabik native Sheila Packa tells the human story of Iron Range workers in award winning poetry.  Her latest book, Night Train & Red Dust, is an eloquent collection of memories and characters familiar to many on the Iron Range.

Inspired by the Mitchell Yards’ designation as one of Minnesota’s most endangered historic places, Hibbing native Paul Seeba memorializes the location in music. His song, Mitchell Yards, combines history and fiction. The musician & teacher has written a companion lesson plan for MN educators, exploring the link between steel production, the Iron Range and  World War II.

“Last Call for the Mitchell Yards” was created by Producer Karen Sunderman and Director Steve Ash, and shot on location by Ash and Lance Haavisto. The program includes historic images from the Minnesota Discovery Center, the Library of Congress and Substreet collections.

Encore broadcasts are Friday nights at 8pm on the 2nd Chance Channel and Sundays at 3:30pm on PBS North. Watch clips online at www.theplaylistonline.org.  Stay connected when you follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @playlistMN.


  1. BRUCE DENNY says

    I would love to talk to someone who could get me in a position to go through the “roundhouse”. My grandfather worked there as a steam engine mechanic for many years before it was shut down.

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