The Books

The Mesabi Project is a series of novels tracing the history of iron mining on the Mesabi Range from the discovery of iron ore in the early 1890s, up through the development of taconite in the 1930s. The first novel, Mesabi Pioneers, focuses on the life of a Finnish immigrant, Arthur Maki, who worked for the Merritt brothers beginning in spring of 1891 shortly after ore was discovered at Mountain Iron. We follow Arthur as he forges a mining camp from the dense pine forests, and through his eyes witness the rise and fall of the Merritt family as they lose control of what would become the richest cache of iron ore in American history. The trilogy follows Arthur’s family and other immigrant families who come to the Range as distinct and isolated communities, with differing cultural values and beliefs, and who over the course of thirty or forty years–one generation, really–build a new cultural identity, one that values all the things that make each of them different, and uses those differences to create a sense of community that lasts to this day.