Companies crowd to mine newly viable West Range iron ore

Last week, I met someone who knew my writing and he was shocked to see that I was “young.” I put “young” in quotation marks because it’s a relative term. I think in this case he was really saying that he was surprised that I wasn’t old, because he figured I would be.  It’s true,… Read More →

New podcast: Meeting Mesabi

Discover the Range, the Iron Range tourism agency, recently launched a new podcast called “Meeting Mesabi. I appear on the second episode. We recorded last summer at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm. Host Ceasar Ortega, fellow guest Jordan Metsa and I talked about the fascinating history of the Iron Range and how it shaped… Read More →

The Steelworkers strike back; Cleveland-Cliffs stands to gain

My latest essay for the Minnesota Reformer is out today: “Steelworkers strike back; Cleveland-Cliffs stands to gain.”  I’ve already written a few pieces about the proposed merger of U.S. Steel and Nippon and given some interviews on local TV. In both cases, I surmised that Nippon would face flak in taking over the Steel Corporation,… Read More →

A world that grew from stumps and slash

This weekend, I’m giving another lecture stemming from an unexpected twist in my book research. “A World That Grew From Stumps and Slash,” will be Saturday, Jan. 20, from 1-3 p.m. at the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The cost is regular park admission, but that means you can check out the museum… Read More →

Big ideas at TEDx Silver Lake

On Feb. 23, TEDx Silver Lake will take place at the Iron Trail Motors Event Center in Virginia, Minnesota. Based on the popular TED conferences, TEDx events welcome speakers to present interesting ideas that build community and grow knowledge. The theme for this event is “Crossing the Divide.”  I bring this up because I know… Read More →

MinnesotaBrown: Top Posts of 2023

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? That old philosophical query runs through my mind as I pose a new question: if a writer stops tracking his web traffic, does anyone read what he wrote? Of course, the answer is that I think so, but can’t… Read More →

The end of U.S. Steel and the triumph of the corporation

This morning we learned that Nippon Steel of Japan will purchase U.S. Steel for $14.9 billion as part of a deal approved by both companies’ boards over the weekend. My latest for the Minnesota Reformer explores the deal and its historic implications. U.S. Steel owns or has a stake in three mines on the Mesabi… Read More →

The power dynamics at the root of Iron Range history

Last week, I gave a talk about race and power in the immigrant dynamic of the Mesabi Iron Range. It was a challenging topic, but I like to think I approached it in a non-dogmatic way.  I realized after it was done that I didn’t finish one of the stories I started in the Q&A…. Read More →

Notions of race in an immigrant culture

In almost eight years of research, writing and editing on my current book, I’ve learned a few things. One is that our views of history are shaped by our preexisting knowledge of how it turns out. We become enamored with alternate outcomes or unusual events that seem to have shaped fate. However, the people of… Read More →

In da club, ya

Some might remember the night my friend and podcasting partner Karl Jacob and I co-hosted a Roaring ’20s 100th birthday party for the Hibbing High School auditorium last month. It was a lovely evening of storytelling, sketch comedy, jazz and old time music in one of the great cathedrals of Iron Range education. What you… Read More →