Monday, February 09, 2015

Walter Bunn Remembered

Remembering Walter Bunn on WTIP radio interview with Ted Young can be found at

Walter owner of Swanson's Lodge on Hungry Jack Lake.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

East Pope Old Post Office/Cabin

Gus  Lawrence purchased a summer home on East Pope Lake on
the Old Gunflint Trail.  Friends, neighbors and visitors to the Gunflint Trail know the cabin that once was the Old Post Office along County Road 92. 

Wooding owned it since buying from George Stapleton, then postmaster, in 1953.
This put “GUS” in that select group of early pioneers who enjoyed the
wilderness life along the Gunflint Trail, as it changed into what we see now.
He was one of the earlier persons on the Old Gunflint Trail.

 Lawrence was born to the late Stephen Frank and Katherine (Luszczek) Wooding, March 2, 1918, in Chicago, Illinois. Lawrence graduated from Farragut High School in Chicago, Illinois and received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from then Armour Institute of Technology, now Illinois Institute of Technology, in June1939.

 Lawrence served in the United States Army, 3198th Signal Service Battalion, Asiatic-Pacific Theater, from April 1943 to April 1946.
 Lawrence was most recently employed as an electrical engineer by Pathfinder Lamp Company, retiring in 1977.

 Lawrence was frequently an entrepreneur. He operated
Masco Powdered Hand Soap business after discharge from the Army. He also
Wheel Park, a portable roller-skating rink and raised chinchillas for

 Lawrence’s hobbies included a life long interest in photography; he was always taking photographs and sharing pictures. He also very much liked fishing and took great pride in teaching all his children and
many grandchildren how to fish. Boating and travel were some of the many activities he enjoyed.

 Lawrence passed away at 96 on December 11, 2014.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Port Authur, Duluth and Western Rail Road

If you are looking for information on the rail road from Port Arthur to the Paulson Mine go to

Monday, August 04, 2014

History of Bearskin Lodge

 Bearskin Lodge dates back to the 1920′s when Harley Jackson,  a local mail carrier, established it as “Camp Jackson.”  The Cook County News Herald reported in May, 1925, that “Harley Jackson is building a place on East Bearskin Lake and will have boats and canoes for rent to pleasure seekers and fishermen.”  Guests originally stayed in tents, but eventually Mr. Jackson built a lodge at the far west end of the lake.  Sometime in the 1930′s

A. J.Allen and his wife bought the lodge, and began calling it “Allen’s Camp Bearskin.”  According to guests who remember that era, for several years the Allens hosted an artists’ colony during the summer.  This is probably how the Allens became acquainted with Marjorie Stolp Smock, a well-known artist from that era, who painted the 1935  “Ye Map of Camp Bearskin” now hanging in our lodge.  Her children’s book, White Tail, King of the Forest, takes place at Bearskin and is a collector’s item now.  She also illustrated many of the “Dick and Jane” readers from the 1950′s.

We have quite a few guests who remember Ed and Myrtle Cavanaugh from their 28 years of owning Bearskin.  Ed apprently was a man of numerous talents, ranging from professional ice skater to tournament sharp shooter.   Myrt must have been a fantastic baker, as many people recall paddling towards Bearskin Lodge  and smelling her bread baking from far down the lake.

Barb and Dave Tuttle bought the resort in 1973, when they were just out of college. Dave had worked in the summer for Frank Rizzo, a Kentucky professor who owned the resort a few years. Barb and Dave owned Bearskin for almost 30 years, and  many of the decisions that define Bearskin as such a unique wilderness resort were choices made by Barb and Dave.  They replaced the old Jackson lodge in 1980 with a comfortable, woodsy lodge designed by Duluth architect David Salmela.  One of Mr. Salmela’s best known projects is the Gooseberry Falls Visitor’s Center, which shares some key design elements with the lodge at Bearskin.

Dave and Barb were cross country ski visionaries.  Dave started building ski trails through the deep woods at a time when there weren’t many ski trails anywhere in Minnesota.  Bearskin’s cross country trails became one of Minnesota’s foremost ski destinations.  Those trails have grown even more beautiful through the years.

When the McCloughan family bought Bearskin Lodge in 2007, we were fortunate to become part of business that has been a source of wonderful memories for generations of guests. We’ve met guests who biked here in 1933, who honeymooned here in the 1940′s, and who were toddlers here in the 1950′s.   Many of our guests are the 4th  generation in their family to make Bearskin Lodge a family tradition.

The McCloughan family takes our responsibility to maintain the legacy of Bearskin Lodge very seriously.  We understand what a large role this special place holds in the family history of many our guests, so we do our best to make every trip to Bearskin Lodge a source of happy memories.

Ye Map of Camp Bearskin, by Nell Stolp Smock circa 1933

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Old Gunflint Rail Road

Great current video of the path of the old Port Arthur Duluth and Western Rail Road around Gunflint Lake. The Rail Road was built to transport the iron ore from the Paulson mine to Port Arthur Canada.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Skeleton of Moose in Mine Shaft

Just re-visited an old mine located on a side road of the Gunflint Trail alongside of a portage between two lakes. The mine shaft is about twenty feet deep. The mine was dug some time between the 1870-80s in a futile search for silver or gold. Neither to my knowledge was ever found.
Moose skeleton in mine pit
Sorry not a good quality image
The last time I was there was on a July 4th weekend about fifty years ago and at that time there was still snow at the bottom of the pit. This time there was not any snow but at the bottom was a skeleton of moose. The poor animal must have fallen in and with no way to get out expired there.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Cook County Court House -100 Years Old

by Minnesota Local History on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 1:03pm ·
The following article was originally printed in "Overlook"  Spring 2012.  Reprinted with permission from Cook County Historical Society.

Brief Period when the new and old Cook County courthouses stood on the same site.

Cook County was officially created in 1874 by an act of state legislation. But official county business began in 1882 when Governor Hubbard appointed the first county commissioners, Samuel Howenstine, Hazael “Henry” Mayhew, and Chas. M. Wilson. Grand Marais had been chosen as the county seat, and the Mayhew’s trading post, on the Point, served as the meeting place for the commissioners (it was also  used by the doctor and as the post office). In 1888 the first official courthouse was built on land donated by Milwaukee’s Grand Marais Real Estate and Improvement Company. However, the county would soon outgrow that building, and by 1910, talks began about building a new courthouse on the same property.

There were several reasons why the  new courthouse was needed. The county’s population had exploded to over 1300 people, the existing structure was already in poor condition, more space was needed for both the Judge of Probate and the Superintendent of Schools, and the existing courtroom and jurors’ facilities were inadequate.

In February of 1910 the County Board appointed a committee to secure plans to build a $65,000 courthouse. A Cook County News Herald article around this time, entitled “Broke Jail,” reported that the old jail, built in 1901, was rotting under the windows so badly that a prisoner easily escaped. A new jail and even a sheriff’s residence would be included in the county’s developing plans for the property.


Duluth architects Kelly and Lignell were retained in April of that year to design the new building, and Northern Log Company began excavating the building site in July 1910. To protect the old courthouse from the blasting, all the windows were boarded up.

 In May 1911 the board decided to drop the sheriff’s residence and jail additions, choosing instead to repair the existing jail with concrete reinforcement. In June of that year, final plans for a Neo-Classical Revival Courthouse building were accepted from the architects. The new rectangular building would contain a flat roof and an overhanging cornice with block modillions. The front entrance would consist of six Ionic columns and five recessed bays. A June 22nd advertisement in the New Herald called for building proposals to complete the construction.

In July the Bowe-Burke Company was awarded the building contract with its low bid of $25,603. The total cost, including furnishings, was then targeted at $45,000. However, various project additions along the way, including better windows and a new vault, raised the total project cost to about $60,000.

 By August four walls were completed, and the roof was expected by October. In December of 1911 the building was enclosed and heated so that the interior work could continue throughout the winter. The News Herald reported, “The construction has been well looked after and Messrs. Bowe & Burke propose to make this a lasting monument of their best efforts. We will have a magnificent building.”

Before the end of 1912 the County Board passed a resolution to accept the work of the contractors for the completion of the new courthouse. In his book Law and Order in the Wilderness, Raff wrote of the new structure, “Those responsible for its construction deliberately intended that it project a clear impression of the dignity and strength, and respect for the permanent vitality of local government in Cook County.”


An under construction Cook County Courthouse nears completion. Finishing work would continue inside and out for some time. The grounds were finally completed in July of 1914 under the supervision of P. O. Wahlstrom. A fence was built around the whole block, while retaining walls were constructed on the south and west sides. Seeding and sod, as well as extended concrete sidewalks, all added to the grandeur.

And what became of the original 1888 courthouse? Fred Bramer’s bid of $210.50 allowed him, with the help of “Contractor Hedstrom,” to move the building down to Wisconsin Street where it served as a retail shop for “gents’ furnishings,” a pool hall, an ice cream parlor, a movie theater, and a bakery – all before eventually burning down in 1921.