Five northeastern Minnesota colleges merge

Today the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees approved the merger of five northeastern Minnesota community and technical colleges. The colleges include Hibbing Community College, Itasca Community College, Mesabi Range College, Rainy River Community College and Vermilion Community College. The new college will be called Minnesota North College with campuses in Ely, Eveleth,… Read More →

The death of stories, and their resurrection

I recently finished reading every single edition of the erstwhile Hibbing Daily Tribune and Mesaba Ore / Hibbing Daily News from the years 1913 to 1926. I’d guess that’s about 3,000 individual newspapers, eight to 24 pages apiece. Is that a humblebrag? Honestly, it seems really hard to tell. It might just be a call… Read More →

Power in the Wilderness podcast re-airs Mondays at 8a on KAXE

I’m nearing the finish line for my enormous book, “Power in the Wilderness,” about Victor Power and the action-packed world of early 20th Century Hibbing, Minnesota. It will be some time before the book is ready for you to read, however. Meantime you should check out the podcast of the same name that independent filmmaker… Read More →

Novak’s ‘Steel’ holds enormous weight

Good fiction tells truth that nonfiction struggles to spit out efficiently. As I’ve been toiling on a thick tome of Iron Range history, along comes a novel that cuts right to the point.  The story of the Iron Range isn’t just mining and immigrants, unions and politics. It’s an untold trauma that lingers for generations,… Read More →

Canine namesake highlights Power story in Hibbing

This week, the Hibbing Police Department announced the winning entry from a contest to name its newest K-9 dog. The dog will be named Dottie, in honor of one of Hibbing’s pioneering entrepreneurs, Dottie Power. Gina Forti, of Hibbing, submitted the suggestion. Dottie Power was one of the most successful merchants in early Hibbing history… Read More →

‘Hockeyland’ comes home

Northern Minnesota’s obsessive relationship with hockey has endured since the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. For some, the hockey lifestyle defines an entire 20-30 year period of life, perhaps longer as new generations continue the tradition.  Even those who don’t play hockey see their lives affected by the game. Classrooms empty during state tournaments. Local fast… Read More →

The bombs we carry

The police officers donned dark blue overcoats. Their bright brass buttons and badges glowed in the morning light. They gathered at the corner of Howard Street and Fifth Avenue. A captain barked orders, steam pouring from his mouth. Men stationed themselves at each exit of the luxurious new Androy Hotel.  The town was Hibbing, Minnesota…. Read More →

The poison in our standing water

Today, you can read my latest column for the Minnesota Reformer. The essay is entitled, “The poison in our standing water.” My work continues to transform as I ingest untold quantities of historical research for my book “Power in the Wilderness,” which I hope to finish quite soon. This piece analyzes Range history, Facebook’s power… Read More →

Flirting with fads

  In our consumeristic society this weekend becomes a sort of proving ground for material desires. We mark “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” not as official holidays, but as shared celebration of enormous corporations achieving their Q4 revenue expectations.  The stuff we buy and sell, however, changes a little each year. I remember Tickle-Me-Elmo being… Read More →

Elegy for the pack-sacker

In 1922, Claude Atkinson, editor of the erstwhile Hibbing Daily News and Mesaba Ore opined about a local pageant celebrating the mining history of the Mesabi Iron Range. Iron Range towns at that time seemed curiously young for such nostalgia. It would be the modern equivalent of a pageant celebrating a 30 year high school… Read More →