One of the projects of the new Gunflint Trail Historical Society is to collect oral histories from the oldtimers in the area. So today Linda Hendrickson and I went off to interview a couple of men connected with Chik-Wauk Lodge. Carl Nunstedt was the son of Chik-Wauk founder, Ed Nunstedt and the brother of Art Nunstedt who also owned the lodge. Norbert Mayer was the stepson of Art Nunstedt.
After setting up the video camera and tape recorder, Linda and I started the interview. I should explain that while these interviews are always interesting and fun, you rarely learn earth-shaking facts. What you get are tiny tidbits of information that enhance things you already know. So what did we learn today?
Linda had a lot of questions regarding the main lodge at Chik-Wauk. She is working with the Forest Service to get the lodge on the National Registry of Historic Places. So we learned that the roof shingles on the lodge had originally been red. All the rock in the building was gathered from the shore of Saganaga Lake. This included the amythest on the fireplace. The rock porch on the lodge was left over from the log lodge that burned.
We learned a little more about the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camps on the Gunflint Trail. I never realized that the Seagull Camp was located where the Seagull Guard Station of the Forest Service is presently located. I know that those who were based there considered it the most remote CCC camp in the country. They also published a newsletter called "The Gunflint Trailer."
We learned a little more about the extention of the Gunflint Trail from Seagull Lake to Saganaga Lake. Art Nunstedt and Russell Blankenburg wanted the road to get to Saganaga because they both had property that they wanted to develop on Sag. The Forest Service would not give them an easement to cross government land. So Russell bought up small parcels of private land to build the road on. Art was in charge of the actual building. He hired a crew who used corduroy logging and gravel to cross the wet areas. The road went from Seagull Resort (now the Blankenburg Public Landing) to the entrance to Chik-Wauk's road (now off the Moose Pond Road). Russell extended the road from that point to this property and built Saganaga Fishing Camp. The name was changed to End of the Trail Lodge by Al Hedstrom, a later owner. Now we know this piece of land as the "guides' landing" on Saganaga because all the fishing guides park their vehicles and trailers there. Some remnants from End of the Trail Lodge are the beautiful lilac bushes that bloom each spring.
Norbert also loaned us a bunch of pictures to copy from the early days of the Trail. It is fun to see pictures of these two men when they were younger. They have so many stories to share with us that time flies by. After two hours it was time to say goodbye. When we listen to our tapes, I am sure that even more questions will come to mind. But today we learned a few more pieces of the history of this wonderful part of the country.