Thursday, May 04, 2006

A New Project

Those of us who are retired always seem to get involved in more than we planned. Everyone reasons that since we are retired, we have lots of time. Bruce and I have really fallen into that trap. This time the bait waved at us was in the form of a museum for the Gunflint Trail. If you know the Trail, you may remember Chik-Wauk Lodge on Saganaga Lake. It was bought out by the U. S. Forest Service in the late 1970's as part of the 1978 Boundary Waters legislation. Part of the deal was that the owners, Ralph and Bea Griffis, could live in the lodge building as many years as they wished. About 6 years ago, health reasons forced Ralph and Bea to stop coming up. The entire community was sorry to see them go.

Since that time the Forest Service has be trying to come up with a use for the building. One of their thoughts was a museum. So the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byways committee was approached. One thing led to another and now we have The Gunflint Trail Historical Society, an IRS 501(c)(3) corporation (non-profit). The society is seeking to turn Chik-Wauk into a museum.

The main building was built in 1934 as the result of a 1933 fire that destroyed a brand-new (the first guest had yet to enter) log lodge. Nunstedts (the original owners) were not going to have trouble with fire so they built a beautiful rock structure that is about 40' x 50'. We are now starting the process to get this building on the National Registry of Historic Places.

The resort sits on a tiny peninsula overlooking two small pristine bays just off the main Sag channel. Around the two bays is just about every type of terrain and vegetation found in the Boundary Waters. It is a wonderful site.

Over the fall and winter many people have been dreaming about what could be done at this location. The museum dedicated to the history of the people of the Gunflint Trail is a done deal. But everyone's dreams have expanded from that point outward. The plan is now to develope intrepretive trails, wildflower trails and bird watching areas. Not much has ever been organized for people interested in the wildflowers and birds of the Trail.

If you are interested in this project, contact me directly at my personal e-mail, suekerfoot@boreal.org. In addition to members for the historical society, we are really looking for people who can tell us stories of past days on the Trail. Pictures, old brochures, letters, maps, postcards, etc. are actively being sought out. There are a lot of people living out of the area who have a long history of coming to the Gunflint Trail and we would like their stories. If you like to frequent antique stores, spend a few minutes going through their old postcards for any from the Gunflint Trail. Ebay has them periodically but they are expensive.

Don't hesitate to contact me with any ideas that you may have about the project. It seems to be getting bigger every day and we need lots of help.

Sue Kerfoot

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