“Iron Will” movie video with Duluth annotations

The adventure drama Iron Will premiered on Jan. 14, 1994. Much of the film was shot in Duluth and areas near Duluth from Jan. 11 to April 1, 1993. The annotations below are a guide to spotting familiar people and locations.

This is a first-draft of the timeline. Additional information will be added later through crowdsourcing, so if you know about something that isn’t listed but should be, or have better details or amusing anecdotes related to the movie, mention any of that in the comments or send an email to paul @ perfectduluthday.com.

Iron Will Timeline with Annotations
0:02:40 Little train-stop “village” custom-built near bottom of Spirit Mountain
0:03:14 First appearance of Duluthian Paige Litfin, who auditioned for and won the part of Becky, Will’s girlfriend
0:04:54 Interior scene at Soo Line Depot in Superior (modern-day home of Thirsty Pagan Brewing)
0:27:34 Greysolon Plaza
0:28:41 First appearance of Don Kienholz, drinking a beer at right
0:30:21 Late, great Duluth artist Peter Weizenegger in crowd on hotel’s floor level
0:30:58 First appearance of Duluth East High School alum (class of 1969) Michael Laskin in role of Simon Lambert, next to Kevin Spacey
0:31:56 Llyod Shold is seen joking with Spacey
0:33:17 Weizenegger appears again in the balcony (blooper alert) along with Duluth theater notable Brian Matuszak
0:37:05 Must be a local train
0:39:00 East Second Street in front of Old Central High School
0:42:09 Superior’s Dale R. Botten as “press corp” extra on left; also appears in other scenes
0:43:00 Duluthian Chuck Frederick’s first significant appearance in film (more follow) seen leaning in behind Kevin Spacey (also in background are Duluthians Jack Setterlund and Bruce Ojard, smoking cigars)
0:49:10 Exterior scene at Soo Line Depot
0:49:47 Better look at Jack Setterlund (middle) and Bruce Ojard (right)
1:07:01 Bruce Ojard is photographer at left
1:20:38 Shot in Cotton, about 35 miles north of Duluth
1:21:07 Late Duluthian Sheldon Aubut on wagon, yells “Atta boy, son! Whole town’s waitin’ on ya!”
1:36:12 A North Shore river; not sure which one
1:40:45 Duluth Mayor Gary Doty appears in the background in the upper right corner

Local People Mentioned in Credits
Man: Sheldon Aubet
Casting Assistant: Jim Willmore
Extra Location Casting: Midwest Connections, Inc., Riki McManus
Key Production Assistant: Chris Bacigalupo
Production Assistant: Jim Neumann
Wilderness Consultant: Mark “Sparky” Stensaas

… and numerous Duluth-area entities are mentioned in the producer’s list of thank yous.

Other Local People Who Are in There Somewhere
Carl Knudson (reporter from the Superior Evening Telegram, now deceased)
Llyod Shold (who died just after the movie came to theaters)
John Kolar (of Kolar Toyota fame)
Don Kienholz
Tanni Poole
Tom Martin
Bruce Bodin
Doug Davis
Jay Cole

Additional Notes

  • In the film the race is run between Winnipeg and Saint Paul, but no scenes were shot in those cities.
  • Other than Duluth and the Arrowhead Region, additional shooting locations were in Brookston, Minn. and Montana.
  • Trains in the film were from the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, including the Duluth and Northern Minnesota Steam Locomotive No. 14 and Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway Business Car Northland. Perhaps those details will be specified in the timeline in the future, after an expert chimes in.
  • All the train engines shown in the film were portrayed by the Duluth & Northern Minnesota Railroad No. 14 engine — the same steam engine the Depot still uses for tourist excursions. The film crew changed the front nameplates on it to look like (at least) two different engines.
  • One of the dog teams and an actor fell into the St. Louis River at Jay Cooke State Park during shooting but were unharmed, just a little soggy.
  • On the first day of shooting the cameras froze. A different kind of oil is needed in frigid temperatures to keep those cameras from freezing.
  • Along with Duluth Mayor Gary Doty, mayors of the surrounding communities, including Two Harbors, Proctor, Cloquet and Superior Mayor Herb Bergson were present at the shooting.
  • Mackenzie Astin, a self-described “young punk from L.A.” loved the experience of dogsledding and thought Duluth was “beautiful” and the people were “so kind and so generous.




about 5 years ago

0:03:14 First appearance of Duluthian Paige Litfin, who auditioned for and won the part of Becky, Will's girlfriend


about 5 years ago

0:28:41 First appearance of Don Kienholz (drinking beer on right)

0:31:56 Llyod Shold is seen joking with actor Kevin Spacey

Jacob Jacobson

about 5 years ago

Duke Skorich, the only news anchorman to have worked his way out of a job at nearly every television station employing him. I remember him from KDAL in the 1970s. He was fun to work with, but a bit of a hot head. Typical Iron Ranger.

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