Please join Russell Hill & Jeffrey Smith’s Blog Tour for Mesabi Pioneers, from May 4-29.

02_Mesabi Pioneers CoverPublication Date: October 6, 2014
Lempi Publishing
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
238 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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In the early 1890s, a group of brothers discovered iron ore in the dense pine woods of northern Minnesota. Mesabi Pioneers tells the story of the immigrants who dug that ore out of the ground, who carved towns from trees, and who built new lives for themselves and their families.

Arthur Maki, a Finnish immigrant known for his carpentry skills, has been hired by the persuasive and poetic Leonidas “Lon” Merritt to join a crew of explorers in the forest. From this remote and formidable locale, Arthur must construct a camp and foster a community into which he can bring his wife and son.

The camp, which the Merritts call Mountain Iron, sits on what Lon believes to be a huge lode of iron ore. However, the rest of the world thinks the Merritts are crazy. While Arthur builds a camp with a Chippewa Indian everyone calls Charlie and a French-Chippewa fur trader named Richardson, the other members of the team explore the surrounding woods for more caches of iron. When a second lode is discovered at Biwabik, Arthur and the rest of the crew know the finding is real. And the iron mining world knows it, too.

As the mine gets deeper and mining operations expand, the camp crowds with a diversity of ethnic and cultural groups. Tragedy strikes in ways large and small. And it is from the ashes of destruction that Arthur finds the community he has been seeking.

Praise for Mesabi Pioneers

“…a refreshingly enjoyable read… Hill and Smith kindle complicated emotions, important questions and a driving curiosity about Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range…The novel give(s) us a remarkable point of view, a vision of the Iron Range before it was anything like our modern understanding of the place. The size of the forest, the difficulty of travel, the majesty of the Missabe hills before they were opened up and moved like chess pieces: we see all of this in fresh prose.” -Aaron Brown, Hibbing Daily Tribune and

“Hill and Smith pepper their story with some very good character development, plenty of sarcastic humor, and a good deal of research into a period never before explored in historical fiction. In their handling, the enterprising and occasionally cutthroat, bygone world of iron mining comes vividly alive. A strong debut installment.” -Charlotte Kirsch, Historical Novel Society

“A wonderful book. I’d recommend it to anyone.” -Scott Hall, KAXE, Northern Community Radio

“In Mesabi Pioneers, Jeffrey Smith has skillfully crafted a wonderful story that respects the historical facts while bringing the experience of these pioneers to life. This book is a steeped in the social history and physical geography of this region in Minnesota that played such a significant role in the economic rise of the United States. In a few words, this is good creative writing with an enjoyable style.” -James Dilisio, author Maryland Geography

“What a fascinating story, with finely drawn characters and compelling subject matter. The authors take us inside the hearts and souls of newly arrived immigrant pioneers, full of hope and promise, who accomplished extraordinary feats under dire circumstances; and the Native Americans who watched their homeland undergo such dramatic and irrevocable change. I highly recommend it.” -Kathryn Leigh Scott, actress and author, Down and Out in Beverly Heels

Watch the Book Trailer

Buy the Book

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Mesabi Project Website

About the Authors03_Jeffrey Smith Author

Jeffrey Smith began his love of letters at fourteen on a Smith-Corona electric typewriter borrowed from his father. He is a full-time writer, homemaker and stay-at-home parent in Berlin, Maryland. Also an accomplished distance runner, Jeffrey has completed 16 marathons, seven 24-hour relay races, and multiple ultra-runs, including several 100-mile races. He blogs about writing, running, and parenting at

For more information visit You can also follow Mesabi Pioneers on Facebook and Twitter.

Mesabi Pioneers Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 4
Blog Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, May 5
Guest Post at The Maiden’s Court

Monday, May 11
Review at Unshelfish

Thursday, May 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Monday, May 18
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Tuesday, May 19
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, May 20
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Thursday, May 21
Review at Broken Teepee

Monday, May 25
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Tuesday, May 26
Review at Book Nerd
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, May 28
Review at Just One More Chapter
Review at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Friday, May 29
Review at A Novel Kind of Bliss

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