In just a month, Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center will open its doors to start its fourth season of sharing the cultural and natural history of the Gunflint Trail with area residents and visitors. During 2013, Chik-Wauk will be open every day from Saturday, May 25 – Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. each day. Admission rates are $3 for adults, $2 for children ages 5-18, and GTHS members and children under five free.
In the month leading up to opening day, Chik-Wauk staff is busily preparing. We’re starting to receive gift shop orders and are excited to be offering a number of new items in our gift shop and bookstore. As always, we strive to keep a local focus in our shop, with many items coming from local artists and Minnesota companies.
We’re also putting the finishing touches on a temporary exhibit about the Boostrom family of Clearwater Lodge. The exhibit will be on display for this season only, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn about a fascinating Gunflint Trail pioneer family.
We’re piecing together a busy schedule of special events and naturalist programs this year. You can view our full naturalist program schedule for the season here. Many special events, including a chamber music concert fundraiser in August and, of course, the annual fish fry luncheon in June and Labor Day pie and ice cream social are planned as well. Check out all of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society special events, including a meeting schedule, here.
The Gunflint Trail Historical Society is working to raise the funds necessary to complete repairs on the historic Gunflint Trail entrance signs in front of the Grand Marais Public Library.
In 1938, members of local Civilian Conservation Corps camps installed two signs – a Voyageur holding a canoe labeled “Gunflint Trail” and a bear driving a motorboat – at the gateway to the 57-mile long Gunflint Trail (Cook County Road 12) in downtown Grand Marais, MN at the request to the Gunflint Trail Association and the Grand Marais Commercial Club. Local business owners wanted to help ensure that area visitors didn’t miss the turn off U.S. Highway 61 onto the Gunflint Trail where numerous resorts and wilderness adventures awaited them.
In the 75 years that the signs have sat atop stonewalls at the base of Grand Marais’s 2nd Avenue West, the signs have become an iconic part of the Grand Marais landscape, even though the signs no longer mark the official entrance to the Gunflint Trail. They are landmarks that speak to the days when the Gunflint Trail was just beginning to develop itself as a major tourism destination in Minnesota, where tourists from the Twin Cities, Chicago, and the greater Midwest flocked to enjoy canoeing, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor recreational opportunities. The signs also remind area residents of the region’s rich history with the Civilian Conservation Corps. From 1933 – 1942, 16 different CCC camps worked in Cook County, helping to fight forest fires, develop hiking trails and canoe routes, and sustain the local economy during the Great Depression.
These signs are important to residents and visitors alike and over the years the signs have been captured in countless photographs and postcards. Recently the signs have fallen into considerable disrepair from age and neglect. Lettering on the Voyageur’s canoe that was once bright red is now completely faded to a very pale pink. Much of the paint on the bear sign has completely chipped off. The concrete stands for both signs also need repairs.
In summer 2012, the Gunflint Trail Historical Society (GTHS) Board of Trustees decided to take responsibility for repairing these 75-year-old signs. The Board determined that repairing the signs was cohesive with the Historical Society’s overall mission to preserve the history of the Gunflint Trail for future generations. The GTHS received permission from the Grand Marais City Council to arrange and oversee repairs last autumn. The sign repair must be completed soon to prevent the signs from becoming a total loss.
There are just 7 days left in the public fundraising effort of this project and the GTHS is only $275 shy of their fundraising goal. It’s easy to donate to this project through the GTHS’s GiveMN page. We appreciate your help restoring this important piece of Gunflint Trail, Grand Marais, and Cook County history!
Ralph in 1958, shortly after buying Chik-Wauk
Ralph Griffis, last owner of Chik-Wauk Lodge, passed away on Saturday, February 9, 2013, in Harlingen, TX. He was 87.
A native Texan, Ralph bought Chik-Wauk with his wife in 1957. After the passage of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act in 1978, Ralph and Bea sold the property to the federal government in 1980. Through a special agreement with the U.S. Forest Service, they continued to spend their summers on the Gunflint Trail in the stone lodge building until the late 1990s.
Ralph, with Bea, on the Chik-Wauk grounds in the mid 1970s.
Although Ralph and Bea never had a chance to visit Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center after it opened in their beloved lodge building in July 2010, they enthusiastically supported the project and the work of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society in every way possible. Ralph provided the GTHS with countless photographs, artifacts, and stories for the museum and he helped ensure that the lodge building received recognition on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ralph and Bea at their 60th wedding anniversary celebration in 2009
Many museum visitors fondly remember the kindness of Ralph and Bea. Ralph is also remembered for his fishing prowess. Appropriately, Ralph’s ashes will be buried on the Chik-Wauk grounds this summer.
Ralph is survived by Bea, his wife of 64 years. Click here to view his full obituary or to sign the guestbook.
Do you have a stunning photograph you took on the Gunflint Trail? Submit it to Chik-Wauk’s first ever photo contest!
We are looking for striking digital images of life on the Gunflint Trail, both past and present. Your images must have been taken somewhere on the Gunflint Trail. Your images may show portraits of wildlife in natural habitat, plant life, natural landscapes, weather or people on the Gunflint Trail.
The winning image will be reproduced on a postcard available at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center’s gift shop during the 2013 season and the winner will receive 10 copies of the postcard. Contest open to all photographers and each individual may submit up to three (3) photos through our Flickr group or email.
Please read Photo Contest Guidelines in full before submitting your photos. Submission deadline is April 15, 2013. Winner and runners up will be announced on or by May 1, 2013.
Late winter always finds us wading through administrative tasks like rewriting manuals, finishing up next season’s temporary exhibit and figuring out ways to make Chik-Wauk run even better next season. It doesn’t make for very interesting blog posts, but it’s important stuff that Chik-Wauk’s success hinges on. As we write this, there’s a fresh 9 inches of fluffy snow stacked up in the Gunflint Trail forest and it’s a balmy -22F. There’s no mistaking that it’s January!
Other than commiserating about bitterly cold temperatures, we do have a couple items to share:
We’re hiring. As we head into our fourth (wow!) season, we’re looking to add to the Chik-Wauk team by hiring a museum and nature center operations assistant. This employee will be responsible for a variety of tasks, including museum docent, front desk cashier, and hosting two self-designed naturalist programs per week during the peak summer season. This full-time, seasonal position runs from mid-May until Labor Day. If you’re interested, a full job description and application are available on the Gunflint Trail Historical Society homepage, right under the “Current Newsletter” link. Application deadline is February 28, 2013. Please pass on this information to anyone you think might be interested.
Dave Battistel talk at Gunflint Lodge. Dave Battistel’s been researching the Port Arthur, Duluth, and Western railway for years now and is well-versed in the intricacies of this ill-fated railroad which traveled from modern day Thunder Bay to the Paulson Mine located just off of the Gunflint Trail. This summer, Dave gave an extremely popular talk about the railroad at Chik-Wauk and he’ll be presenting on the PAD&W again on February 9, 7:30 p.m., Gunflint Lodge Conference Center. If you’re in the neighborhood, it’s definitely worth taking time out of your evening to attend.
Bundle up and enjoy these winter days!!
We dipped into our photo archives this month to find some historic holiday greetings from the Gunflint Trail. Wherever the 2012 holiday season finds you, we wish you days filled with love, warmth, and happiness. Merry Christmas!
Stumped for holiday presents?
The Gunflint Trail history DVDs released this past spring are appropriate for all ages and always fit. Treat your loved ones to nearly four hours of historical footage, all focused on their beloved Gunflint Trail. You can use our DVD Mail Order Form to order your copies. To ensure delivery in time for Christmas, please place your orders by December 12.
Gift memberships to the Gunflint Trail Historical Society also make a great stocking stuffer. You receive the tax deduction and they receive free admission to Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center and other perks, including the GTHS newsletter and Chik-Wauk e-newsletter. All gift memberships purchased during December 2012 will be applied to a 2013-2014 membership, so your gift receipient will enjoy free admission to Chik-Wauk during the entire 2013 season. If someone on your gift list is already a GTHS member, honor them with an honorarium. Gift memberships and other contributions can be made through the Gunflint Trail Historical Society website.
For decades, the historic Gunflint Trail entrance signs have welcomed visitors to the Gunflint Trail. Located in downtown Grand Marais at the foot of 2nd Ave W. in front of the public library, these signs – a Voyageur holding a canoe labeled “Gunflint Trail” and a bear driving a motorboat – are an iconic part of the Grand Marais landscape. The two signs are located on stone walls, believed to have been built by the Works Progress Administration in 1938.
Interestingly enough, it’s been a long time since these entrance signs actually marked the official entrance to the Gunflint Trail. For years, the signs’ location was three blocks east of the actual entrance to the Gunflint Trail. In the early 2000s, the official entrance to the Gunflint Trail was moved to the east end of Grand Marais. Nevertheless, these signs are important Grand Marais landmarks and have been captured in countless tourist photographs and on postcards.
Time has taken its toll on the signs. Lettering on the Voyageur’s canoe that once was bright red has completely faded. Both signs are desperately in need of a new coat of paint and other repairs. The pictures below, taken in spring 2010, show how the signs have deteriorated.
The Gunflint Trail Historical Society has received permission from the Grand Marais City Council, which owns the signs, to undertake repairs. The GTHS has partnered with the Cook County Historical Society to complete this project. With assistance from the Grand Marais Street Department, the signs were removed from their stands this fall. Artist Yarrow Korf will repaint the signs over the winter. The refurbished signs will be reinstalled in Spring 2013.
The cost of this refurbishment project is approximately $5000.00. The Gunflint Trail Historical Society is asking those interested in the preserving these important pieces of Gunflint Trail and Grand Marais history to consider making a donation to help offset project expenses. Those interested in supporting this project can visit a special fundraising page or use the donation widget at the bottom of this post.
“These signs are a historic piece of Americana that we cannot allow to fall into a total loss,” said GTHS trustee John Schloot who is overseeing the project. “A few bucks today will keep them good for 10-20 years.”
Thank you for considering a donation. Your support keeps Gunflint Trail history alive!
The Gunflint Trail Historical Society and Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center will once again be partnering with GiveMN.org for the fourth annual Give to the Max Day on Thursday, November 15.
Individuals can use the GiveMN.org website year-round to locate and donate to Minnesot-based nonprofits. However, on Give to the Max Day (also called the Great Minnesota Give-Together) there are extra incentives to donate. On November 15, each hour, donors are entered into a drawing (known as the Golden Ticket) to win an additional $1000 for their nonprofit. In addition, cash prizes are awarded to nonprofits who earn the most dollars in donations that day. (First prize is $12,500!) All you have to do to get the Gunflint Trail Historical Society in the running for those prizes is to donate on November 15 in the Gunflint Trail Historical Society’s name.
In addition to the cash prizes offered by GiveMN.org on November 15, the Gunflint Trail Historical Society also has a matching grant on the table. Members of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society board of trustees have generously reached into their own pockets to offer a $1250 matching grant on November 15 only. That means all donations up to $1250 will be matched dollar for dollar!
Together, we hope to raise $2500 on November 15 to contribute to the Gunflint Trail Historical Society’s newly established endowment fund. This endowment fund has been started to ensure that the Gunflint Trail Historical Society and Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center continue to operate for many, many years to come.
Participating in “Give to the Max” day on behalf of the GTHS is easy. You’ll just head over to the Gunflint Trail Historical Society’s Give MN website and look for the “Make a Donation” box on the right-hand side of the page. The donation process is fast and secure: literally, a two-click procedure. You can pay with Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover and can also schedule weekly, monthly, or annual payments.
But why donate to the Gunflint Trail Historical Society on November 15?
- You get more bang for your buck with when you donate online. While grant funds can cost nonprofits 20 cents per $1 raised and direct mail campaigns as much as $1.25 (yowzers!), an online donation costs organizations like the GTHS just 7 cents per $1 raised.
- Any donation over $25.00 can be applied to a Gunflint Trail Historical Society membership. Let us know you’d like your gift applied to your membership dues by clicking “add a designation” in the “your donation” box on the second page of the donation process and type “GTHS membership.” If you’re considering give gift memberships during the upcoming holiday season, this would be a great time to purchase those memberships!
- Your donation promotes the preservation of Gunflint Trail history. Your gift helps the GTHS conduct oral history interviews, create archival space, reconstruct a historic cabin on Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center grounds, expand museum exhibits, and much more.
- Your donation helps the Gunflint Trail Historical Society ensure Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center remains an important educational and community facility on the Gunflint Trail, by helping the GTHS maintain nature trails, fund naturalist programming, and maintain the building and grounds.
- Your gift keeps the Gunflint Trail Historical Society growing and strong.
- Donations may be made anonymously, if you prefer.
- Your gift is tax-deductible. We will issue you a tax deductible receipt for your records.
We hope you’ll considering including the Gunflint Trail Historical Society in your charitable giving on November 15. We really appreciate your support: we wouldn’t be here today without you!
The days are shortening, the temperatures dropping and season 2012 at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center is rapidly drawing to a close. We’ve been kept busy with visitors as people head north to take in the spectacular fall colors. The colors seem to be peaking this weekend, so if you’re hope to catch the fall colors at their finest, plan to come see us soon!
The changing season is reflected in more than just the diminishing daylight and cooler temps. Our wild neighbors seem to be moving around quite a bit these days. As you can see from the picture of the Chik-Wauk “Happenings and Sightings” board above, visitors have been seeing plenty of wildlife during their visits: moose, bears, fox, and plenty of birds.
Winter must be coming because those birds (chickadees, white-throated sparrows, nuthatches, and juncos, primarily) have been flocking to our feeders in the last couple weeks. But it hasn’t just been birds benefiting from the Chik-Wauk feeders:
The Chik-Wauk End of the Season Gift Sale is now in full swing. Save 15% off all books, 20% off all T-shirts (get yourself outfitted for next spring!), 30% off all food items, and much more. Now is a great time to stock up on meaningful, locally made holiday presents while supporting your favorite “museum in the woods.”
One last note . . . we’re busily piecing together the 2013 temporary exhibit. The subject of this exhibit next season will be the Boostrom family, founders of Clearwater Lodge. Do you have a fun Charlie and Petra story you’d like to share? Please submit it to us so we can include it in the exhibit!