Hey Jenna Fischer, here are specific things to know about the Iron Range

PHOTO: Elise Thompson, Flickr CC

As you may have noticed I’ve been blogging less to focus on my new book. So I wasn’t able to click-grab news about “The Office” star Jenna Fischer coming to the Iron Range to film a new hockey movie next month.

That’s a shame. One of the most popular posts I’ve ever published was when “Taxi” and “Back to the Future” star Christopher Lloyd filmed a movie on the Iron Range. It was second only to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie apparently breaking up on the tarmac of the International Falls airport.

I’m no social media expert but I’ve got to imagine Jenna Fischer will be a bigger deal than Christopher Lloyd. Just a hunch. But then again we had photos of Doc Brown at the Sawmill Inn taking selfies with waitresses. Hmm. Your move, Jenna Fischer.

When you write about the news, politics and culture of a remote place like the Mesabi Iron Range it’s hard to reach new audiences. I can write about the IRRRB, mining, and rural economic diversification until the sun explodes. None of it really matters until Danny Devito buys a sleeve of Mentos at the Lucky 7.

This is my lot in life. I accept it.

But like I said, I’m busy. I don’t have time to chase down Jenna Fischer or get into the good graces of the film’s publicity team. I’m rather content to just stay here in the woods. But there are a few notes I’d like to share for the benefit of Jenna Fischer. Maybe it will help her enjoy her time here even more.


The only paparazzi on the Iron Range are the security cameras as you walk into L&M Supply. So, if you go to L&M you’ll want to disguise yourself in gas station sunglasses, a camouflage hoodie, and blue jeans with some kind of rhinestones on the butt pockets. You will see others dressed this way. Do as they do. This will allow you to buy your bird seed and spark plugs in relative peace.

Dietary Needs

Maybe you like Cheetos and hot dogs from Wal-Mart. If so, you’re all set here. But if not, you will find a number of places to buy quality local, organic foods. For a standalone shop try the Natural Harvest Food Co-op in Virginia, Minnesota. Or, if you prefer, check out the special organic section at the Super One that most locals glower at with suspicion whenever they walk by.

Local History

If you’ve managed to get from the plane to your hotel without hearing about local Iron Range history you’ve really accomplished something. Soon you will be pinned in a corner by an old man or really intense woman who wants to make sure you understand mining. Yes, it’s true. We mine iron ore here and have for more than a century. The important thing to know is that this iron ore built America and that everything that happens in the mines is really important, for ever and always, and that those damn dirty hippies just don’t understand. Millennials. Whatever they’re called. Are you one of them hippie enviro millennials? You are not.


Related to above, eventually someone will try to tell you about taconite. Taconite is a form of iron ore that is crushed and turned into pellets that feed blast furnaces to become steel. You get to make a joke about how it looks like “Taco Nite” one time and after that it’s not cool. When they try to tell you how it’s made tell them you already know and that it’s very important.

Ex., “When I got here I thought “taconite” meant “Taco Night,” but then I learned that it’s an important industry that literally builds America every day. But seriously, I was expecting tacos.”


You know about the sport and I’m sure you’ve received all the direction you need. We only ask that you not re-open the wound of us having an NHL team called the Wild, which is all kinds of messed up from a grammatical standpoint. We’ve just gotten used to it. We know the North Stars was a much better name (and franchise). Stupid Norm Green. Also, don’t mention Norm Green.

Just for you

Fun personal connections: You’ll be filming your movie in St. Louis County, just like back home. People here love “The Office, but mostly because they find Michael Scott’s humor to be non-ironically hilarious. A lot of us DVRed your most recent show and were almost caught up when we heard it was cancelled. Damn shame. Though it was a waste of a good garage. Coulda’ parked like five snow machines and a side-by-side in there.

One final note, these tips are provided to Jenna Fischer, but they would work just as well for any Class A2 celebrity who might come here in the future.


  1. If she’s coming in January first stop better be L&M Supply to get some real clothes. That low cut sequined dress just isn’t going to cut it.

  2. You didn’t warn her to avoid Itasca “come on vacation, leave on probation” county. However, if she finds herself in the probation department, I recommend reading the Kootasca Community Action flyer hanging to the right of the receptionist window. Ironically, lol ironically hahaha that’s funny. Anyway, the flyer actually says “Taco Nite” on the map.

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