Today in Alt-History: North Minnesota and South Minnesota

A couple weeks ago I came across this feature from the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader in South Dakota exploring an interesting intersection of American history. In the time before Minnesota statehood and the dissection of Dakota territory, there was serious talk of splitting Minnesota on an east-west border instead of using the Red River as a north-south… Read More →

Ancient mysteries on Minnesota’s Iron Range

Cindy Kujala at the Hometown Focus includes a buffet of interesting mysteries and factoids about Iron Range history in her column this week. Most of it is reprinted from a project compiled by the Iron Range Historical Society and University of Minnesota at Duluth. My favorite excerpt: There is a place where the Embarrass River… Read More →

‘The ore won’t burn up, won’t go out of fashion’

A friend of the blog recently sent me an old book: “Duluth and St. Louis County Minnesota: Their Story and People,” edited by Walter Van Brunt and published by The American Historical Society, 1921. The 1890s in northern Minnesota were historic for transfer of public lands to lumbermen. In process, lumbermen either discovered ore or… Read More →

WWII mystery over the skies of northern Minnesota

“I believe submarines Underneath deep blue seas Saw the flags: Japanese No one will believe me” ~ “Submarines,” by The Lumineers In 2014, history seems buried six feet under the bookshelves. Grandparents know a little more, doling out dusty recollections over the meat and potatoes of family gatherings. If there was a sculpture struck, a… Read More →

‘Lost Iron Range’ airs tonight on public television

I am sometimes asked to explain why I chose to stay in northern Minnesota instead of chasing some faster life under brighter lights of some big city. My answer is simple: I am a writer at heart; writers need stories; the Iron Range is teeming with past, present and future conflict; and the complete story… Read More →

The Empire Builder: James J. Hill be not forgotten

Amy Goetzman begins her recent story “James J. Hill and the day the railroads roiled Wall Street” in Minnpost this way: James J. Hill was responsible, perhaps more than any other one person, for the rise of Minnesota industry and agriculture, and its lasting international impact. His robust railroad empire drew the state’s arterial maps,… Read More →

William Jennings Bryan in Duluth

I played the narrator role of the “Stage Manager” in my high school junior year production of “Our Town.” I remember giving a line about how William Jennings Bryan once spoke in Grover’s Corners, a sign of some strange and isolated collision between this small town and the churn of national events. The Zenith City… Read More →

50 years later: Kennedy’s visit to Duluth, Ashland

It was 50 years ago today that President Kennedy walked out the doors of the Hotel Duluth in Duluth, Minnesota and flew off to another stop on his national tour. The day before he had landed and spoke in Ashland, Wisconsin at an airport that now bears his name before speaking and politicking in Duluth… Read More →

Dead guy wants me to stop talking about writing novel

I subscribe to the Wordserve Water Cooler, a community blog that shares posts by writers, editors and publishing types as a resource for aspiring and practicing writers. I’ll admit, I mainly subscribe as a daily reminder that I should be writing more important things than navel-gazing columns and comedy sketches about talking fruit. I feel… Read More →

Vaudeville throwback show slated for two-week Range run

The Lyric Opera House in Virginia, Minnesota.   The Lyric Center for the Arts in downtown Virginia, Minnesota, will be doing a Vaudeville throwback called “The Last Train to Winnipeg.” Set in Virginia of the 1920s, the show depicts a Vaudeville troop trying to catch the last train north. “The Last Train to Winnipeg” runs… Read More →