No. 1 Hard

Square in the middle of North Dakota is a town called Heaton. At this point, though, it may be an exaggeration to call it a town. It’s more of a boneyard with town-like aspects. The main street has an abandoned bank and gift shop, both with broken-out windows. A piece of a “B” rests on […]

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Local Legends

  I’ve always liked to talk to people, especially strangers. I also like to drive the roads outside the commercial net of the interstates, the state highways and neglected county roads that still take you right into towns that can feel either forsaken or impossibly wholesome, and sometimes both at the same time. On such […]

Playground of the Rich

The iron ore mine in Tower, Minnesota, closed in 1962. Now Tower’s major industry is Lake Vermilion, an island-studded jewel and one of the last outposts of private property before you arrive at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Outside Tower, there is a turn to Old Highway 169, and then another onto an old […]

All Fished Out!

Some of the landmarks have changed, but eight years ago, directions to the Rainbow Inn were easy: Stay on Highway 169, watch for Wigwam Bay and the Grain Belt beer sign. I found it, pulled in, and walked into the lodge. The light was comfortably dim, slanting in through the row of front windows. A […]

Now You See It…

Lynx number one was a hard-luck kitten. He was barely a year old, in March 2003, when he walked into a box-like trap near Isabella, deep in the Superior National Forest. Isabella is an old logging village bisected by Highway 1 as it slices inland from Lake Superior to Ely. Beyond the village is a […]