Making It: Recreation Revival
- [Woman] Production funding for "Making It Up North," is provided by the citizens of Minnesota, through the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. (air whooshing) - [Woman] In the pit with the water, the red rock, and then to see the colors of the sun as it rises, there's really nothing like that. (air whooshing) - [Man] It just makes my heart sing. (chuckles) - [Woman] Reactions are priceless.
(air whooshing) - [Man] To take an old iron ore pit and turn it into a great mountain bike trail system, is just great. (air whooshing) (bike wheel whirring) - [Woman] We're 30West Fitness and Recreation. So, we're just kind of putting our arms around that and trying to make it the best thing for Chisholm, and the Iron Range as we can. (air whooshing) - [Man] Chisholm's going through a revitalization period, so, and that's exciting, something to get behind.
- [Man] It's fun to see people breathing life into old buildings or businesses that are new, that haven't been here before and it's starting to happen, and it's happening in Chisholm. (upbeat music) - It's to me like a paradise, right on the Iron Range. (upbeat music) (upbeat rock music) (playful instrumental music) (indistinct chatter) - Hey everybody, it's Candace from 30West Fitness and Recreation. I am up here at the Redhead Mountain Bike Park.
I just wanna encourage you, if you are a woman and you love to ride, or you want to try it for the first time, please come. (indistinct chatter) It's gonna go down in history books, you guys. - Yes. - First women's group ride, at Redhead.
- I'm gonna do one more, on my camera. - You never know. Mountain biking is not something that we've had a lot of around here, so I think there are many women, who are interested in it, but they've never tried it, and they might be a little scared to go on their own. And so to have a group, might draw more people.
You get confidence, it builds community. And I mean, today we're gonna have people from the cities coming for this. And Deb, what is your timeline? - I mean, how long, - Oh, am fine! - do you want? Okay, cool! We'll start with the green, and see how we feel. - (indistinct chatter) - Sounds good? Hopefully you guys ate your Wheaties today. (laughs) - [Woman] Continental breakfast across the street.
(laughs) - The feeling of it, the look of it, (air whooshing) the red on your shoes and the red on your mountain bike tires, and the red on your legs. You cannot ride out here without getting some amount of red dirt on you. (air whooshing) We've done a hashtag, get a little in your blood, because you will. (laughs) There's, you know, figuratively, you'll get excited about it, but also physically you get it on your body. And there's kind of a cool appeal to that.
(air whooshing) - This is my first season mountain biking (indistinct) I'm from Idaho. - Oh! - Never mountain biked out there. - Whoa! Now you're like, - I know, - I wanna go back to do that.
- I love it, - Yeah. - I love it, I love it. - [Woman] It's addicting! - Yeah, it really is addicting, and, okay, how'd that go? (air whooshing) (indistinct chatter) - Pretty hilly one. (soft music) - There's no real mountains. I mean, you know, lots of trees and things like that, but we do have these man-made mountains, that comes from our iron mining past. And when I moved here from Idaho, that's one of the biggest thing I noticed.
They're obviously not high towering peaks, you know, with trees and things like that, but you do get eventually growth of trees on them. I think they're beautiful. I'm just excited to see how this will grow the mountain biking culture here, and support Chisholm, who knows what the future will hold.
Maybe we'll have, I keep saying, we're gonna have a women's (indistinct) bike gang, so we'll see how that goes, but, (laughs) that's my goal. (laughs) (upbeat music) (soft instrumental music) - Well, I think it brings a new audience to the iron range, and it also gives people a new quality of life, in their own back door and more to explore that they've never seen before. That's been hiding in this beautiful landscape. (soft instrumental music) Right here, we're right within kind of at the water level of the mine pit.
There's five mine pits that converged together. And from here, you can kind of see, from a vantage point that was never open to the public before. (soft instrumental music) See all the different geology in the landscapes, and where the water meets the iron ore, and the tree lines, it's really magnificent and beautiful here.
I'm Donna Johnson, I'm the Executive Director of The Minnesota Discovery Center, and we serve as the trailhead, to the redhead mountain bike trails. (soft instrumental music) So the Discovery Center, is, we're first and foremost a museum, the biggest museum North of the Twin Cities, and then when people go to ancestry.com, you're actually visiting our research center. We have, you know, the entire state of Minnesota's birth records, death records, naturalization papers, just a ton of information. (upbeat music) We do have a new exhibit on labor history which we won, you know, national awards for, and kind of put us, on the museum map.
But then we have a lot on immigration and schools, and what life was back in the location days and early times. (upbeat music) Right now we have the carnival of curiosities, kind of brought that archives out of our basement, up above for people to explore. (upbeat music) And we have Glen location, which you take the trolley over to an old mining town and could see what life was like. (air whooshing) - It was built on a mining. You know, they discovered iron ore here, hundreds of years ago, and they, the town grew from mining.
(dramatic music) There are three businesses in town that started in 1905, and it's a, the first national bank, which is owned by my brothers and I, and a couple other investors. Casey Drug is also right across the street here. They're from 1905, and then the third one is Rupp Furniture. Their third or fourth generation also started in 1905. So, those three businesses are all family owned, third or fourth generation, and still on main street. (air whooshing) I was born and raised here.
I moved to Duluth, worked there for 20 years and then I moved back and raising my family here now. (air whooshing) My name is Mark Wangensteen, I am a banker here at First National Bank of Chisholm. I can walk main street, and people tell me stories about my dad or my grandpa. You know, it's just the, it's enjoyable.
(air whooshing) I ride a lot and I go by the parking lot, just curiosity. And, you know, I count 15 to 20 cars at a time. And most of those people are from out of town and they're bringing outside money into our area. And, you know, I see a lot of the local businesses downtown here, the bars, the restaurants, the hotels, are all busy with people with bikes on the back.
(upbeat music) - I think what makes a small business in a small town work, is that we're so nimble on our feet. We're not some huge corporate structure. We're not getting the sales that somebody in Alabama thought should be on the shelf. I know these people on a personal level and you feel that you can trust that that business owner or that pharmacist or whomever cares about you.
Well, the story is of course, that everyone leaves, everyone leaves, they go to college and they leave. No one comes back and it's just not true. So, I'm Alida Casey, I work at Casey Drug as a pharmacist.
I am one of the fifth generation pharmacists. I've worked with my brother, and I'm, I have working there for about 10 years as a pharmacist, a lot longer before cleaning shelves as a kid. And now I live in town and work here and love it here. (air whooshing) Mountain biking is just must be gaining, gaining popularity as though, of course, with the redhead trail (indistinct) like I'm on the bandwagon, and I've really enjoyed going there myself. - I think it's very exciting.
I think for so long, we've had this really insular mindset, that's focused just on mining and the ups and downs, and you know, of course mining is our stronghold here, of course, but there's a lot more. (soft music) The iron range in general, people think of as this, you know, this dying mining towns that, you know, the mines are no longer existence. Well, you know, we have the opportunity to reclaim this, and make it something huge. (upbeat instrumental music) There are many people here in Chisholm, in the surrounding communities that have not experienced mountain biking, and so that will be something to learn.
But my hope is that people will see the opportunity, to really benefit from that, and that's not just from a business or an economic standpoint, but that they themselves would see, wow, I can enjoy the beauty of the area where I live. I can be active. I can feel better.
I can do it with other people. And just how it kind of strengthen so many things, you know, in their lives. My, that's my true hope that they'll embrace it. (air whooshing) - I can't tell you how many people this summer have said, "how lucky are you to live there." Growing up here, you don't hear that, that much, you go to school and you hear, oh, you're from the range! You know, and those things they're real, I mean, people do say that stuff, but I think people are recognizing, what, what a gift we have in the area surrounding us and people are taking advantage of that.
(upbeat music) - I grew up biking the pits, but they didn't look like they do now. (laughs) I think it was probably six or seven years ago. I heard the idea of that they wanted to build a single track mountain bike park behind iron world. I thought, wow! That's a wonderful idea.
(air whooshing) - We've got people in here who exercise every day. We've got people who are brand new to it, you know, and they can come in here and they can share it together. They're all at different levels.
(soft music) - Our desire is that people anywhere on their fitness journey, would feel welcome here. There's young students who like to come, and we have a member who's 95 years old. And he comes sometimes twice a day to walk on the treadmill.
(upbeat music) - Really our goal is to help people be active and to really enjoy being active. - It started really with Nick and Joel, the two guys at church league softball. - This building was for sale at the time. We were, we were out for dinner and my wife and I, and we happened to walk by and saw that someone was in here and the owner said, "you know, I've got it for sale, I've got some people interested in it," - Potentially it was gonna get sold to be a smoke shop, or a bachelor pad that they would just some guy was gonna put a bunch of motorcycles. I thought, this town deserves more.
(bright upbeat music) And we just thought, you know, what about a recreational facility? Something that Chisholm doesn't have. - And I grew up in Chisholm. I've always known about this building and thought it was kind of under utilized, at least in my day and age. - When we approached him with the idea of a gym and a recreation facility, he said, "that's what I want."
And here we are less than, you know, probably three years later, with a fully functioning gym, and we're excited about the recreational opportunities, and it just keeps growing. (upbeat music) - When they started building trails, we had meetings and we said, "hey we need to rearrange some of the priorities. And what would it look like if we had bike rentals." - None of the four of us have ever owned a business before. So there's a lot of learning that's taking place, but going back to the supportive community, people are so gracious with us as we learn these things, and hopefully that'll make new things in the future easier as we (chuckles) learn these little lessons.
(upbeat music) - I'm from the range, I grew up in Virginia. So, and I'd moved away for a while, (indistinct) cities, in Southern Minnesota, but I'm a physical therapist. - I work in a mine. I have been in the control room at Monarca Mine, for a few years. I have the power to start and stop, very, very large pieces of equipment and communicate with my crew, with managers, engineers, I'm kind of the go-between.
(upbeat music) - He went to school for recreation leadership, and redhead was never something back then, that was gonna happen, and so now seeing that we're living in Chisholm, we are business owners, he works in the mine, and now this wonderful opportunity, for him to really do something that he loves, we could have never imagined ever. (upbeat music) - You know, I remember times being here at five in the morning when Joel was off for full midnight shift and we're working on putting a light up in the entryway and times where we meet up here at 9:30 at night, even though Joel has gotta go to work at five in the morning, 'cause that's when the kids are down. - Yeah, there's gonna be stressful times and decisions that need to get made. But we're friends before we're business partners and we actively try to hang out.
We'll have nights where we say, okay, we're not talking anything business related tonight. Let's just be friends. (upbeat music) - We get along great. (child chuckling)
We trust each other. You know, we have different viewpoints, and we can agree to disagree, but it's a great partnership for sure. (air whooshing) (slams car door) - Guess where we are? (bright upbeat music) (indistinct chatter) At times it's, you know what, this isn't the priority of my life because my kids are, my family. You keep those things in line. Think they love to see that, you know what, we're just doing the best we can. There's four of us.
So, you know, when I'm having a baby and, you know, Ken and Joel, step up, if they're busy with something else, then Nick and I can step up, and that's what's great about it, not being all on one person's shoulders. So that's been huge. (upbeat music) We could have never imagined, ever.
(chuckles) And so it's a huge blessing. We just feel so blessed. We're so excited that we get to be here, really is kind of a dream come true. (laughs) (bright upbeat music) (bright instrumental music) - When COVID happened, we didn't have a bike fleet.
We had two trained mechanics and a bunch of tools. And so we had to get creative and we said, "hey, what would it look like, if we started tuning up bikes now?" (indistinct chatter) - So this redhead trail has been so interesting to see kind of flourish here. (instrumental music) You know, our skills with being able to promote recreation in area was just spot on. - Yeah, perfect world. We would have bike rentals onsite at the Discovery Center. That's all I could see for now.
(chuckles) - Obviously you can see, you know, we're doing the bikes here in the gym and we we're running out of space, which I think is a good problem to have. (soft music) - It's become even more than we realized, because we are being able to not only serve the community with fitness, but some other really great recreational opportunities and just different doors are opening all out of nowhere, which has been really fun to kind of see those doors open and go after them. Let's go! (indistinct chatter) Let's go! (air whooshing) - Next summer, in the spring, we will be working with 30West out of Chisholm, and they'll be taking over this side of our admissions building with mountain bike rentals and repair right here on site.
So, I'm really excited that people will be able to come here, rent a bike and go right straight onto the trail. (soft instrumental music) We're getting all this new traffic right into our parking lot that we can really capture them and bring them in our doors and show them who we are, and to also bring the museum more into the landscape, and that landscape in that trailhead, trails system, back into our museum and make it more of a cohesive connection. (soft instrumental music) We can educate through bike tours and then bike tours, we can do signage, and then they wanna come back and learn more. And it's that opportunity to enjoy and recreate and learn without even recognizing, I just learned about mining and I was riding a bike. (chuckles) People that have come back to the area, after they've been gone for 30 years said, "they would have never imagined this in their backyard." (air whooshing) - We are at the Redhead Mountain Bike Park, and just outside of Chisholm, Minnesota, behind the Minnesota Discovery Center.
(soft instrumental music) (air whooshing) - I almost get emotional about it when I see these families, these moms, these kids, and, you know, and everybody else coming out here, cars going in and out, the activity, that what it's gonna mean for downtown Chisholm and small businesses. It's, it just makes my heart sing. (chuckles) (air whooshing) - Tonight is, there's a group ride, at the new installed Redhead Mountain Bike Park, and it's not just important for us, but it's just continuing to bring awareness, that there's such an amazing resource up on the range. (upbeat instrumental music) - It's awesome, I mean, the views are unbelievable.
Just the flow, the technicality, the trails being out in the woods, the cliffs, the lakes. I just love it. I can't get enough, a ride down here. (upbeat instrumental music) - It helps get our name out there, and puts us back on the map. And then also we're kind of a pleasant surprise to writers, who don't really know who we are, to come and explore us too. (upbeat instrumental music) - My hope and prayer is that the locals really embrace it, because it's something that could change the town, and the mines won't be around forever.
(air whooshing) But, and I know tourism, isn't the ultimate answer. We need more business and industry on the range, but I think having amenities is the right start. (upbeat instrumental music) - It's a great place anyway, but to see what's ahead, I think it has a really bright future, and I'm very excited to be a part of it. As a business owner, as a mom, with my kids here growing up, there just really isn't to me, a better place to live. (upbeat instrumental music) And I think that people expand their thinking beyond, you know, we're a mining community, and we need a few nice spaces for ourselves, and they start realizing, we're a really fun little town, and we are right by all these trails, all this wilderness. And so you start thinking of how you can kind of leverage that and maximize that to drop people into your community.
(upbeat instrumental music) - If we start with basic amenities, like a fitness center, a recreation center, a mountain bike trail, I think it makes Chisholm a sweet place to live, in a time like this, and then it makes Chisholm an attractive place to move to, to raise your family. (upbeat instrumental music) (air whooshing) (upbeat instrumental music)