Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Totem Pole

Schools are staring and we don’t have as many children here.  Our big family are giving way to couples for the fall season.  Cabins are all full but not with as many people.  It is a little relaxing to slow down a bit.  We all need the break.  The weather is a little cooler which also helps.

I thought you might enjoy the story of our totem pole in the lodge.  It is one of those things that Bruce’s parents picked up to decorate the grounds and then we moved it inside.  So here it is:

This really ought to be called the “Wildwood Lodge Totem Pole.”  Before most of us were around thee used to be a resort on the west end of Seagull Lake called Wildwood Lodge.  It was started in 1931 by Andy and Sue Mayo.  They built the resort into a fine business.

In December of 1948, the folks on the Gunflint Trial decided to put out a tabloid called “Call of the Trail.”  It was four pages long and had stories about the various resorts and people living on the Gunflint trail at the time.  The section devoted to Seagull Lake contained the following article:

            “Wildwood Lodge is situated down at the west end of Sea Gull Lake about six miles by water from the Landing.  Last year the Mayos had a young man working for them who had a distinctive artistic frame of mind.  He worked during his spare hours on a full sized totem pole.  Completed it now is some twenty feet high, a mass of grotesque figures in brilliant colors and topped by a large carved bird with outstretched wings.  On each wing is painted a large door key.  The answer we like.  In the midst of our winter, this bird sits up there on his lofty perch and calls out, “KEY – KEY-KEYRYST IT’S COLD.”

In the early 1950’s Andy and Sue decided that they had had enough of running a resort.  Rather than sell the property they just stopped doing business.  After continuing to live at the resort for several more years, the Mayos sold to the Isaak Walton League in what would later become an expansion of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Since the Izaak Walton League bought only the land, the Mayos sold the contents and buildings separately.  Bob and Marge Cushman bought the main lodge, disassembled it, towed it down the lake and reassembled it for their main lodge at Sea Island Resort.  Bruce remembers going out to Wildwood by boat with his parents during the contents sale.  On a whim, Bill and Justine bought the totem pole.

The Kerfoots transported the totem pole by boat across Seagull Lake and then down to Gunflint.  After giving it a fresh coat of paint, the totem pole was erected between the trading post building and the parking lot.  Today that would be in the southwest corner of the parking lot.  A small flower garden filled with peonies and iris was right in front of it.  Until the trading post building was replaced in 2001, that totem pole was the center post of many pictures taken by guests and visitors.

After almost 60 years of life and numerous paintings, our grand old totem pole has been retired to an easier life.  The harsh winter winds and summer rain are too much for her now.  She got a new coat of paint and moved into the warm climate in the main lodg where we think she still has many years of life. 


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