Dylan monument at Hibbing HS to be revealed fall 2019

This fall the Hibbing Dylan Project plans to erect this tribute to famous Hibbing High School alumnus Bob Dylan in honor of his storied music career and 2016 Nobel Prize. (IMAGE: Hibbing Dylan Project)

Like an eddy in a fast-moving stream, Robert Zimmerman matriculated from Hibbing High School in 1959. Just three years later, under a new name of his own design, Bob Dylan began transforming the musical world from the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York.

Decades before I was born, Dylan lived in the same neighborhood as my great-grandparents and my teenage grandfather. Bob walked the same streets and hallways that I would years later. Every kid born or raised near Hibbing tells a version of this story.

Quite often, it’s a mystery tale. How did he come from here? Why did this happen? Did a mining town in the woods really produce one of the most influential musicians and songwriters of the 20th Century?

Yes, it did. And while the emergence of creative talent will always carry some aura of mystery, I’ve found many reasons why this place is as good an inspiration as any other.

For 13 years I was part of a small group that ran Dylan Days in the town of Hibbing. I spent most of my time telling curious people from around the world about the story of the Iron Range and Dylan’s time here. I spent the rest of my time convincing locals that, no, Bob Dylan doesn’t hate Hibbing.

The Iron Range attracted poor people from around the world and plunged them into the international workers movement, the American Dream, prohibition and a melting pot of languages and cultures. It was a stunning culture shock that produced diamonds and coal dust alike.

From this stew, the post-WWII era became the lush creative fruit on the vine. And Dylan — ever the crafty borrower of musical and lyrical traditions — ate his fill.

As is often the case, nature and nurture rubbed together until lighting struck clay.

After a good run, we decided to wrap up our little group when Zimmy’s closed. In its place rose the Hibbing Dylan Project. This volunteer-led group of Hibbingites wanted to make a permanent Dylan sculpture in town. Over the past several years the project has focused on a slightly different sculpture after feedback from Dylan’s family.

And the work is finally coming together.

On Dylan’s May 24 birthday, the Hibbing Dylan Project breaks ground for the permanent sculpture at Hibbing High School. This October, they’ll reveal a large brick and stone monolith featuring Dylan’s lyrics to the world.

The Hibbing Dylan Project describes the artwork thusly:

The Bob Dylan Tribute will be constructed along Bob Dylan Drive, the Seventh Avenue East side of Hibbing High School. It will feature a bronze chair, set against a steel backdrop etched with lyrics from Bob Dylan’s songs.

The street side of the wall will be constructed of the same brick and stone as the high school and will complement the building’s architecture.

The bronze chair that will  sit in the plaza’s center will face the school as an open invitation for students to dream, wonder and aspire to carry on the tradition Dylan started in Hibbing. Eventually, someone will have to fill that chair—who will carry on Dylan’s legacy?

This tribute will also serve as a small open-air stage and amphitheater for students and teachers to utilize. The Hibbing Dylan Project’s intention is to create an educational space for poetry readings, speeches, and choir and band performances.

You can learn more or contribute to the project here.


  1. Nice to see. Many kids, more than in most U.S. communities of it’s size, have walked the hallowed halls of Hibbing Bluejackets high school and gone on to achieve very successful careers. Not just in literature but in medicine, business, engineering, sports, non profits and yes, even politics. Most all are worth celebrating. 

    However, emphasizing the Nobel Award as evidence of their success is sorely misplaced. The word “Nobel” has rapidly diminished over the years. It means nothing.  

    With awards to celebrities such as Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and Yasser Arafat, not to mention Obama, the committee seems to have no desire to return to the integrity the prize once had. The Nobel Prize now carries the weight of a Saturday afternoon amateur talent show at a local karaoke bar. Far short of even The Voice or America’s Got Talent. (In the words of one well known economist, Karl Marx, “The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to socialism.” Viewed in that light, Obama deserved the Prize.)

    Bobby Zimmerman’s success is worth celebrating, but not by memorializing it when the Nobel literature committee has decided to NOT award the literature prize for a year to reevaluate the process by which the prizes are awarded.

    “The Swedish Academy wisely decided that the literature Nobel take a one-year hiatus to investigate the allegations of horrific sexual misconduct by the husband of a key member of the committee that awards the prize in literature.” – Brian Keating, The Smithsonian

    • Mika koskinen says

      Nobel literature prize is most important of all and Bob Dylan is most important writer, who ever lived this planet. We european people know that. Thats why.

    • Ron Janssen says

      Ranger47 seems badly confused and under the impression that there is only one Nobel Prize. Because the writer does not respect a few who have been awarded the prizes in many different fields does not at all equate with “It means nothing.” This person would do well to develop a more balanced view of reality and a bit of humility about his/her own judgements. As far as there being other distinguished graduates of Hibbing High School, I have no reason to doubt the writer’s claim, though, truthfully, Bob Dylan is the only figure that I am aware of who has put the Hibbing name on the map. I trust that the students of Hibbing High School are more critical thinkers than Ranger47 and capable of taking pride in what is a recognizable honor bestowed upon one of their fellow (past) students.

  2. Michael Blessing says

    Dylan’s words will be read and sung for centuries to come. Timeless. He is very worthy of what remains a very prestigious recognition- The Nobel!

  3. Mr. Echo says

    I totally agree with Ranger47. Honoring Bob Dylan by putting the focus on the Nobel price is just plain wrong. The Nobel price has been completely devalued in recent years by the decisions made by the Swedish Academy. The fact that Bob Dylan was awarded a Nobel price by a small group of people in Sweden, who just a few months later revealed themselves to be nothing but a bunch of horror clowns (see Swedish Academy scandal) does not say anything about Bob Dylan’s artistic achievements.

  4. Jerry Morsett says

    Just Bob’s unique style of phrasing and his amazing way of showing right from wrong into song a music and being able to do it in first, second, third person…..he makes u wonder why he is talking about that, who is he talking about, and from what perspective is he embracing it….makes him more worthy to human philosophy and literature, than any other past Nobel winners……he understands how to explain himself, defend himself, he has charisma that no one else has……there is a reason he has more books written about him than any other living artist….his consistency of wonder and absolute truth out weighs…..any other…….we should appreciate the greatest mind of the last 77 years

  5. Jeff gravening says

    Hibbing should put more time and interest in up grading the town like adding more business instead of worrying about a person who gives two shits about where he came from

  6. I think it is a wonderful thing to celebrate Bob Dylan. None of us really know what he thinks about Hibbing, but who cares- he is of and from this town and the HS memorial can serve as hope and inspiration for others who wish to explore beyond and chase their dreams! I say Thank You for doing this!!


  8. Gerry Mantel says

    Seems like a “weird” thing to do at a time when Hibbing’s Dylan Days went extinct, along with Zimmy’s.

    Are you sure this piece of “art” doesn’t belong in Ely?

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