If you are as familiar with the movie Field of Dreams then you know Doc Graham based on the character as portrayed by Burt Lancaster, wandering the streets of a small Minnesota town carrying his umbrella. “Son, if I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes,” he tells Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner. “Now that would have been a tragedy.” Just thinking about the later scene in the movie, when Graham leaves the field to save the little girl, gives me shivers.
Most people from Chisolm know that Archibald “Doc” “Moonlight” Graham was a real man, who worked as a doctor in Chisolm, MN, from 1919 until his 1959. He was a doctor for the Chisolm schools, and did a great deal of charity work in that small town during some of the hardest days on the Range. The town of Chisolm commemorates this great man every year with the Doc “Moonlight” Graham Days Festival which takes place in early August.
This is something that makes the Range such a special place. That a man like Doc Graham existed is one thing, but the fact that the little town of Chisolm continues to celebrate him, long after his death, is a remarkable statement about the way the Range cherishes its history and the people that came before.
Doc Graham appeared on the Range well after Arthur Maki and the Merritt brothers first came to the Mesabi Range. But you can read about their remarkable achievement—how they turned the tree-covered forests of northern Minnesota into America’s greatest source of iron ore—in my book, Mesabi Pioneers, out this fall. Look for pre-orders soon!