Rooted in Iron and Ice

Innocent Years on the Mesabi
Author Gary W. Barfknecht jokes that his baby-boom boyhood home in Virginia, Minnesota, wasn’t exactly at the end of the world. But he could see it from there. With energetic style and sly wit, this son and grandson of miners paints a vivid, fascinating portrait of his daily life in the harsh, frigid, isolated strip of mineral wealth known as the Mesabi Iron Range. His entertaining, enlightening, compelling, sometimes poignant true stories and journal-type entries bring to life the unique challenges and pleasures of growing up in what he describes as essentially a small, insular foreign country, with its own culture, language, and one-of-a-kind terrain.

Gary W. Barfknecht of Petoskey, MI Gary W. Barfknecht, sixty-nine, was born and raised in Virginia, Minnesota, the “Queen City” of that state’s Mesabi Iron Range. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota in 1967 and a Master of Science degree from the University of Washington (Seattle) in 1969, Barfknecht came to Flint, Michigan, as a paint chemist with the E.I. DuPont & deNemours company. But after a year on the job, Barfknecht and the chemical giant reached the mutual conclusion that he was not suitable for corporate life, and Barfknecht set out on a freelance writing career. Over the next several years, his articles were featured in national publications. While freelancing, Barfknecht also managed a hockey pro shop at a Flint ice arena. That job led to a position as hockey commissioner. In 1977 Barfknecht postponed his writing efforts when he took over the directorship of almost all amateur hockey programs in Michigan’s fourth-largest county. He resumed his writing career in 1981 with the release of Michillaneous, a critically acclaimed, best-selling collection of Michigan trivia. In 1983 Barfknecht followed with Murder, Michigan, which described “the dark side of Michigan history.” Over the next eighteen years he followed with six more Michigan-themed, nonfiction books: Mich-Again’s Day, Michillaneous II, Ultimate Michigan Adventures, Unexplained Michigan Mysteries, The Michigan Book of Bests, and 39 Petoskey Walkabouts. As sole proprietor and managing editor of Friede Publications, Barfknecht also brought eighteen books by other Michigan authors into print. During the summer, Barfknecht resides with his wife, Ann, in Petoskey, Michigan. In winter, they relocate to Alexandria, Virginia, near their two daughters, husbands, and five grandchildren.

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