Although there are many arguments about the the geographical boundaries of Minnesota's Iron Range (I.E. - do you include Cotton?  Floodwood?  Canyon?), one can generally agree that the center-expressway would be represented by Highway 169 - say from Grand Rapids to Virginia.  There are plenty of communities on either side of that roadway, but it's easy to call that the main artery of the Iron Range.

For most of the path, 169 is a double-lane divided highway, skirting the towns along the way.  Except when it's not and it doesn't.  Most of the stretch between Coleraine and Pengilly is single lane, undivided highway.  It also meanders through the communities of Coleraine and Calumet.  To fully understand how and why is beyond the scope of this article.

What's news in May of 2014 is the announcement of an expansion of the Highway 160 Cross Range Expressway - set for 2016.  At the end of it all, that stretch between Marble and Pengilly will remain as it is - but at least there appears to be some progress being made.

To learn more about the plans and the project, click here.