Monday, June 27, 2005

History of Nor'wester Lodge

Carl & Alis Brandt came to the Gunflint Trail in 1931 to start a sawmill. They soon realized that visitors to the area needed a place to stay. So Carl began building cabins while Alis cleaned cabins, washed laundry, and cooked meals for the many fisherman. They named their resort "Balsam Grove," a name which would stay with the resort through the next 35 years or so.

Built with native spruce and pine logs the lodge still stands today (an addition was later added). Several original diamond willow furniture pieces Carl made are found in the lodge along with furs from many of his trapping and hunting trips.

Today, more than 70 years later, this one-of-a-kind vacation destination on Poplar Lake on the Gunflint Trail remains family owned and operated. In 1968, when Carl and Alis´ son, Carl, and his wife, Luana took over the resort, they changed the name to Nor´Wester Lodge & Outfitters. The name may change and the owners may change, but the beatufiul setting and the spirit of remains.

From Nor'wester Lodge and Outfitters web site.

History of Old Northwoods Lodge

Old Northwoods Lodge sits on the site of the original Northwoods Lodge, one of the founding resorts on the Gunflnt Trail. In the early 1930s, Dr. Rempel, a Russian CCC Camp Director, owned and operated the Northwoods Lodge, a premier hunting and fishing destination for visitors from the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, and Chicago. For complete history go to Old Northwoods Lodge

Friday, June 24, 2005

Hungry Jack Lake History by Maryanne Norton, 1998

A well-known story is that of the naming of Hungry Jack Lake. By the fall and early winter of 1873/74, federal surveyors were working in the area. They camped on the shore of an unnamed lake. When food ran very low, two of the surveyors snowshoed into Grand Marais while guide Andrew Jackson (Jack) Scott remained. Two weeks later as they approached the camp, one surveyor called out, "Are you hungry, Jack?" The lake immediately was named Hungry Jack Lake, inspired by Jack Scott’s two weeks of hunger and thirst. For complete History go to Hungry Jack Lake.

Boundary Waters Chronology- Beginning 4.6 Billion Years Ago

The Boundary Waters Chronology by Stephen Wilbers begins at the formation of the Canadian
Shield and take you through pre-contact, post contact periods and on through the many political fights over the formation of the BWCA. Great overview reference! To view go to Boundary Waters Chronology.

The Finn Lake Logging Road-1956

Ted Young, Gunflint Trail- Fifty years ago next year, as a teenager and fishing guide working out of Rockwood Lodge, I headed out with a party of fisherman to Caribou Lake. Upon crossing the portage from Poplar to Lizz Lake I was shocked to find that a road had been built through the portage. For the full story go to Finn Lake Road.

History of the Gunflint Trail's Banadad Ski Trail

What is know today as the BWCAW'S longest groomed ski trail - the Banadad -- was developed many years ago from a network of old logging roads.

In 1953, The Finn Lake Timber Sale modeled after the earlier adjoining and to the south Davis Lake Timber Sale was begun. The Finn Lake Road was construct to access the sale. This road was to become the eastern end of the Banadad. The road began at the General Logging Company's abandoned railroad grade just east of Poplar Lake (now the Lima Grade) and proceeded due west about ten miles to Finn Lake passing just north of Moon Lake.

Timber harvested from the area was transported along this new road to the Gunflint Trail then down to Grand Marais. Some of the tall white pine from the sale were truck across an ice road over Poplar Lake to Sam Sepalla's saw mill located where Trail Center now stands.

The construction of the road and the subsequent logging was controlled by the Kimberly-Clark Company. While several small logging camps sprung up along the road, the company's largest camp was built just north of the old Moon Lake logging camp. According to Hank Larson who was logging in the area during this period: " l962 there were some eighteen to twenty-four men logging in the Finn Lake area. About twelve of them were shackers. Shackers is the term used to describe the men living in the camps."

During the early l960s another road was constructed from the Finn Lake Road north between Banadad and Rush Lakes across the Banadad Creek, continuing north for another quarter mile where it intersected with the Dawkin's and Birch Cliff Logging Roads. The Dawkins Road came in from the west and the Birch Cliff Road from the east. The Dawkin's road, also know as the Rib Lake road, began at the Gunflint Trail near the Loon Lake Public Landing. The Birch Cliff road connected with what was then the Winchell Lake fire trail beginning on the Gunflint Trail just east of Poplar Lake (now the access road to the Poplar Lake Public Landing).

In l964 with the passage of the Wilderness Act most of this area was place within the newly created Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCAW). The act prohibited logging in most of the area. Road construction and logging ceased, the men moved out and over the next twenty years the forest began to reclaim the logging roads.

Meanwhile the resorts on the Gunflint Trail began developing cross country ski trails. In l972 the first ski trails of what was to become the Upper Gunflint Trail system were constructed by Borderland Lodge. About the same time the owner of a now defunct resort on Hungry Jack Lake and Bearskin Lodge began developing ski trails. These trails were to develop into Bearskin and Golden Eagle Lodges' Central Gunflint Ski Trail System.

Following a bitter struggle pitting mostly city "preservationist" against "local" people from the area surrounding the BWCAW the l978 "BWCAW Act" was passed by Congress. While local residents were not happy with the legislation, they had manage to incorporate into the bill a provision that allowed for the grooming of ski trail within the BWCAW by snowmobiles.

By the early l980s Borderland (now called Moosehorn), Gunflint and Heston's Lodges in the Upper Gunflint area and Bearskin and Golden Eagle Lodges in the Central Gunflint had develop extensive ski trail systems. They were now interested in connect the two systems. Thus in l982 at the urging of the lodges, the U. S. Forest Service authorized the construction within the BWCAW of a ski trail between the Upper and Central Gunflint ski systems. The old Dawkins road, Birch Cliff and Finn Lake system was selected as the proposed route for this trail. During the summers of 1982 the accumulated forest growth was cut and cleared by crews from the Forest Service from the Dawkins, Birch Cliff and the eastern end of the Finn Lake Roads. Grooming by snowmobile of the this trail was authorized and the trail was opened for skiing that winter. The Subsequent year the Finn Lake Road and Banadad links were cleared and this route replaced the Birch Cliff section as the Banadad's eastern end.

The Upper and Central Ski system were now connected by a twenty-seven kilometer groomed ski trail through the wilderness. First called the Ski Thru Trail, Artery Trail or Tucker Lake Trail, depending upon whom you spoke to, the trail was officially named, by the Gunflint ski resorts, the Banadad in l984.

Many of the trail's early beginnings can still be seen. Skiing the Banadad from the east end about eight kilometers from the Lizz-Poplar Portage, the clearing where the Kimberly-Clark logging camp is still visible. However, all that remains of this once busy log camp is a dilapidated outhouse. Further along the trail at what is now called Moose Kill Hill is the junction where the Banadad link branches north off the Finn Lake Road. Another mile and one half further along the trail is the intersection (called Mid Trail Junction now) with the Dawkins and Birch Cliff roads. The Birch Cliff road (now called the Moose Trail) is primarily used to supply the two yurts located at Bedew Lake.

In an interview a few years ago logger Hank Larson described the beauty of the area. He particularly mentioned the rugged terrain and hills along the road near Banadad Lake. The two largest of these hills were named "Whoopee" One and Two by a party of passing skiers in l985.

Note-Banadad is the Ojibwa equivalent for lost.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Received Question About Early Native Americans in The Area

Received the following from a reader and former resident, "have always wondered who lived in the County (shore and inland) and Trail previous to the Ojibway coming into the area. The general history books say the Dakota or Lakota but when they get into details they talk about north/central Mn. Then I have heard the Assiniboine (Nakota), but again the details place them more towards Lake of the Woods. Then I have heard the Cree, but then the details I have seen seem to place them to the North. So for Cook County, It is a gray area. I hope you would consider opening up the History Blog to see if anybody has some information particular to our area. Betty Powell Skoog mentioned somewhere once that her family had told her about the Sioux wars or something so there may be stories out there."

Anyone have an answer? I sure would be interested.
Show Original Post

Dan Nelson responded-

I have this from a Thunder Bay source, "Opinions vary on this subject but the general view of historians is that the Ojibway came to this area about the same time or slightly before the European fur traders and displaced the Cree in the north and the Sioux in the regions further south. Hence the places with names like Sioux Lookout and Sioux Narrows. There are still many Cree in the far north and the Sioux moved west. A book entitled The Eagle of Thunder Cape, published in 1924 and reprinted in 2001 by the Thunder Bay Museum, recounts the oral tradition of the Ojibway of major battles between the Sioux and the Ojibway. This tradition holds that the Sioux and the Blackfoot joined forces to conquer the Ojibway and the Northern Cree. You might also check Andrew Warren's book on the Chippewa as it is usually accurate.Archaeologists, however, differ with this view. There evidence shows that the Terminal Woodland Algonkian pre-historic people, characterized by their distinctive pottery and burial mounds, occupied this area from 750 AD to about 1650 AD when the Ojibway moved in. One scholar has written that the Terminal Woodland Algonkian people were, in fact, the Ojibway but this view is somewhat radical as the evidence for Ojibway migration at the time of the early fur trade is quite convincing. Most archaeologists, however, believe that the Terminal Woodland people were completely destroyed by or absorbed into the invading Ojibway culture, and that the Sioux wars came later when the Sioux invaded the territory. This view is backed by archaeological evidence while the historical view is backed by oral testimony and the second-hand accounts of missionaries. I don't know whether the Sioux ever resided in Thunder Bay area."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Company History- Trail Center

History of Sam Seppala's saw mill operated on the Trail Center's site in the late 1930's and 40's as told by Glady's Seppala Truri. Great photos! One photo shows the orginal store.

Company History- Boundary Country Trekking

Company History

Shortly after moving from Chicago to their family owned property, Young's Island, on the Gunflint Trail in 1974, Barbara and Ted Young started several business ventures. These ventures were to grow into Boundary Country Trekking Ltd. (BCT). Their first venture, Mid Trail Services, provided maintenance and construction services to Gunflint Trail summer cabin owners. Ted's canoe guiding services, which he began many years before as a teenager, also continued during this time. For the complete company history go to BCT History.