Author to share novel about 1916 Mesabi strike at MDC

Author Megan Marsnik wrote “Under Ground,” a novel that takes place in Biwabik amid the Mesabi Range Strike of 1916. (author photo)

Author Megan Marsnik will read from her novel “Under Ground” and discuss its setting amid the Mesabi Range Strike of 1916 Thursday, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m. at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm.

The Discovery Center currently features the exhibit “Enough! The 1916 Mesabi Range Strike.” This is an absolutely necessary viewing for anyone seeking to understand one of the most pivotal moments in Iron Range and American labor history.

“Under Ground” was featured as the summer serial fiction feature in the Minneapolis Star Tribune last year. The Hibbing Daily Tribune recently featured a story about Marsnik’s event this Thursday:

“I hope some teenagers come with their parents or grandparents,” Marsnik said. “Young people need to know how difficult the conditions were for immigrants on the Range. They need to know that their grandparents and great-grandparents were heroes, and in many ways, their ancestors shed blood so that workers across America could work with dignity.”

Marsnik is the granddaughter of Slovenian immigrants and the daughter of union activists. She was born and raised in Biwabik, settled primarily by Eastern European and Scandinavian immigrants.

Marsnik worked briefly at the Iron Range Research Center, where she conducted genealogical research and transcribed oral histories, particularly those of immigrant women.

“When I set out to write a novel, I knew it would take place on Minnesota’s Iron Range, the land that I love and will always consider home,” she said. “I began my love affair with Iron Range history when I was a teenager. I was fortunate to spend my summers working at Ironworld in the research center, where I had constant access to some of the most amazing stories in the world.” Part of her job at the research center was to transcribe oral histories that had been recorded on audio tape.

“I was transfixed, in particular, with stories about the 1916 strike, and the great sacrifices that had been made by the miners and by their wives,” Marsnik recalled. “There were romantic scandals, shootouts in broad daylight, chicanery, underground hideouts and heroic tales of sacrifice in almost every edition of the newspaper that year. The newspaper articles read like an action thriller.”

That has been my experience as well. The newspapers 100 years ago pulsated with drama. Meanwhile, the 1916 exhibit is riveting. Like Marsnik, I am inspired to write after reading these original sources. I’ll be announcing my own new book project as summer approaches.

Read more about Marsnik’s visit and plan to attend the Thursday evening event if you can.


  1. In the big scheme of things, the Range labor history is but a footnote. Very few things that are worthwhile in life are easy. That said, I’m sure glad God put this Iron Range ore in the ground to be mined. It’s enriched the lives of literally millions of people, dwarfing the number of lives it may have damaged.

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