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Mary Casanova and the ghosts of Koochiching

By Amy Goetzman

Casanova_frozen coverFor three decades, Mary Casanova has lived in Ranier, one of Northern Minnesota’s most northernmost communities, situated on the edge of Rainy Lake. As a writer and storyteller, she’s naturally collected a wealth of information about the region, the 100-year-old house she lives in, and the area’s notable residents. One of these stories caught her attention and wouldn’t let go.

Twenty years ago, Casanova was reading Hiram Drache’s "Koochiching: Pioneering Along the Rainy River Frontier." In the book was a brief reference to a prostitute who had been found frozen to death in the snow. Her body was propped up in the corner of the room at a City Council meeting. The incident “caused quite a stir,” wrote Drache, but that was all he had to say about the woman. The rest of the story was up to Casanova to write.

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