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 →

Cliffs offer to buy U.S. Steel portends shakeup in Iron Range mining

Today, I have a news analysis piece running in the Minnesota Reformer: “Cliffs offer to buy U.S. Steel holds huge implications for the Iron Range.” On Sunday, the two biggest iron ore and steelmaking companies on the Iron Range signaled discussions that could lead to a consequential sale. U.S. Steel announced it was fielding offers… Read More →

Why no Fourth of July schedule?

Longtime readers know that for the past several years I’ve prepared a concise listing of Iron Range Fourth of July parades, street dances and fireworks displays. It was routinely among the most popular posts I produced each year as thousands read and shared the schedule with friends and families. I’ve decided not to produce this… Read More →

Curtain opens on new era of Iron Range performances

You may have seen my column from last weekend, “Final Goodman show marks new era on Iron Range.” I marked the end of an era with the closure of the Goodman Auditorium and the dedication of the new Rock Ridge school. On Tuesday, I appeared on Minnesota Public Radio’s “Minnesota Now” with Cathy Wurzer to… Read More →

Notes from the basement

The world seems awash with news and events I’d have blogged about in recent years. Mining industry scuttlebutt. Duluth fighter jets shooting down UFOs. Fortunately, some other writers are on the job, including Jerry Burnes and Leah Ryan of the new Iron Range Today. It was no surprise that former State Sen. Tom Bakk signed… Read More →

MinnesotaBrown’s Top Posts of 2022

↔ Another year has come and gone, and what reason — what good reason — could I give you to look back at my written work of 2022? Are we not awash in such tripe? Is there no end to the vainglory that impels the propagation of a “website” run by a “newspaper columnist”?  Well,… Read More →

Tensions over potential mine closure boil over days before election

I wrote several different versions of a post yesterday after news broke and then unbroke regarding the potential closure of Hibbing Taconite. Fortunately, I was too busy to post any of them before newer information came in. So today I wrote a piece for the Minnesota Reformer analyzing the complex economic and political storm brewing… Read More →

New disc golf course in Balsam Township

Please indulge a proud dad moment. Our oldest son Henry Brown was featured on WDIO News last night for his Eagle Scout project. Raising almost $7,000 in cash and in-kind donations, with the help of 24 volunteers, Henry built a nine-hole disc golf course at Balsam Community Park near our home in the woods. He… Read More →