These photographs are from an ongoing project exploring the communities of the Mesabi Iron Range. The project began when the American steel industry, an industry with a history of boom and bust cycles, suffered its worst collapse. There are few photographs of despair and defeat. I quickly discovered that the people of the Mesabi Range are resilient, good humored and generous. In short, life goes on.
Although I have pursued other subjects I return to this one and always find fresh possibilities. From the beginning the scrappy, industrial beauty of this area comprised of forests, lakes, and mines captured my attention. There is an equally engaging beauty in the vigor and directness of people of the Iron Range.
My initial introduction to the Iron Range was a Fourth of July parade in Biwabik, Minnesota. My preconception of Rangers was that they were hardworking, durable north country people. That is certainly true but what I didn’t know was that they are dependably generous and embody an extraordinary joie de vivre. There is a very keen sense of history in the communities of the Mesabi Iron Range which describe themselves as having “built America”.