Hate and hope on the Iron Range

A century ago, Iron Rangers cheered, fretted and fought the rise of the Ku Klux Klan across the Mesabi. The hate and hope of this time remain with us today. Word of the Klan arrived much earlier. A hit movie, “The Birth of a Nation,’ played in Duluth and Iron Range theaters in 1915 and… Read More →

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 →

Racing for solutions in rural EMS crisis

A financial crisis threatens rural emergency medical services across the country, especially right here in our own back yard. Increased attention to the issue in recent months has yet to improve the situation. But, at last, more leaders at every level of government are beginning to act. Their efforts will determine whether regions like ours… Read More →

Rural EMS needs emergency policy solutions

Small towns and rural counties across the state face an emergency services crisis. Failure to solve the problem could leave rural people without timely access to advanced life support after accidents or medical incidents. On Nov. 25, I wrote about challenges facing the Nashwauk ambulance service in eastern Itasca County. In subsequent weeks, communities across… Read More →

Loss of Nashwauk ambulance would affect huge area

If you drop a wheel off the side of a county road, you realize how easy it would be to roll into the ditch. That chest pain you feel is probably just indigestion, but what if it was a heart attack? Cutting a fallen tree. Changing your car’s oil. Climbing a ladder to retrieve holiday… 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 →

The hard lessons behind those leases

The only proper response to a mistake is to learn from it. Last week, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommended that Cleveland Cliffs receive state mineral leases once held by Mesabi Metallics, a group loosely connected to the investors behind Essar Steel. The iron ore in question lies outside Nashwauk near the former site… Read More →

Iron Range 4th of July returns with gusto in 2021

Today I present one of my favorite annual features at MinnesotaBrown: the annual Fourth of July weekend lineup of Iron Range regional parades, street dances and fireworks displays. I’ve only been posting my newspaper columns this year as I finish my book. But I just had to come out of my book-writing cave to put… Read More →

Pressure, time, and the tricky business of hope

Pressure and time. That’s how minerals concentrate into ore formations beneath the earth. You might learn this in a geology class. But pressure and time also explain how humans extract those ores. Now we’re talking economics, the kind that affects our lives here on the Mesabi Iron Range. This spring brings an avalanche of news… Read More →

Legislature, mining & police

This year I’ll be offering occasional news analysis on WDSE’s Almanac North as part of the station’s “Voices of the Region” segment. My first segment was Jan. 8. If you missed it, here it is: I reviewed three topics. First, the legislature is in session now. Northeastern Minnesota lawmakers of both parties find themselves in… Read More →