Power in the Wilderness - Episode 2: El Pulpo

Jul 13, 2020

Episode 2: El Pulpo 

What will Victor Power do next? Beaming, yet cautious after an “impossible” victory defending an immigrant miner against a murder charge for winning a pistol duel, Now “Fightin’ Vic” confronts the massive corporation that rules the small village of Hibbing, Minnesota.

We begin this episode in an unexpected place: Mexico. We end with explosions, animals attacking humans, and the rise of Victor Power.

First, we join a thrilling 1910 car chase in which Vic, his brother Walter, and a business partner evade a posse of gun-toting horsemen in a 40-horsepower Mitchell automobile along the border of Arizona and Mexico. Ambition drives them, almost to ruin, but in the process they learn something that other people from Hibbing don’t know yet. You can’t run away from El Pulpo -- the Octopus -- of U.S. Steel. 

Victor returns to law practice in Hibbing while settling down with his new wife in a middle class home on Mahoning Street. He begins to make friends and forge new business partnerships with the immigrant communities of the rapidly growing village. But the town grows weary under the control of U.S. Steel’s Oliver Iron Mining Company. We meet Dr. H.R. Weirick, the town’s mayor, who is also a firm believer in U.S. Steel’s philosophy of corporate power and paternalism. He consolidates power and makes it harder for opponents to oust him by cancelling the village caucuses.

Meantime, rocks rain down on Hibbing from above. Mine blasts draw closer and closer to the village, and nearly kill a woman who runs a boarding house near an ever-expanding mine pit. Lizzie Hukari-Liend marches into Vic Power’s office with a jaw-dropping request. She wants to sue the Oliver Iron Mining Company and other mining interests that destroyed her boarding house. Victor Power takes the case and fights the biggest political and legal battle of this young town’s history.

“Power in the Wilderness” is a production of KAXE/KBXE Northern Community Radio, an independent NPR affiliate and member of AMPERS. This episode is made possible in part by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and by Hank’s Woodworks of Hibbing, Minnesota. 


Hosted and Produced by Aaron Brown and Karl Jacob. Edited by Karl Jacob. Additional research by Tucker Nelson. Featuring guest R.J. Thiel. Thanks to William Ascarza. Featuring music by Lobo Loco, Ludwigs, Bubamara Brass Band, and Teddy and Marge.