Last weekend, the first snow of the season came down and stuck in the Gunflint Trail area. As temps dip lower and lower and the snow continues to swirl outside, it seems like a good time to spend the dark evenings pouring over some Gunflint Trial history. But with Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center closed for the season, what’s a person to do? Luckily, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Gunflint Trail history until Chik-Wauk reopens in the spring.
The local community radio station, WTIP, in Grand Marais often produces historical features pertinent to the Gunflint Trail. If you’re in the mood to sit back and enjoy Gunflint Trail history, you can check out either the History Speaks (the latest feature is about the history of Gunflint City, the Paulson Mine, and Port Arthur, Duluth, and Western Railroad) or the Legacy of the CCC features.
The Gunflint Trail’s youtube channel offers a bunch of snippets on Gunflint Trail life including this history piece.
The A Taste of the Gunflint Trail cookbook remains the “go to” resource for Gunflint Trail history.
Not only does the cookbook provide a great comprehensive history of the development of the Gunflint Trail road and businesses, the cookbook includes plenty of tasty recipes. If you have successful hunters returning home this time of year, you might try out Trout Lake Lodge’s Venison with Gingersnap Gravy.
Up here on the Trail, the GTHS and Chik-Wauk are busily transcribing a bunch of oral history interviews, thanks to a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grant. The information in these interviews with Gunflint Trail ol’ timers will be used to develop future exhibits at the museum and will also be available to researchers. We’re pleased to be expanding our own historical offerings during these quiet winter months.
Chik-Wauk may have closed its doors for the season nearly a month ago, but don’t be fooled into thinking nothing has been happening behind Chik-Wauk’s closed gate. A group of volunteers set aside time on the last two weekends of October to construct a boardwalk across the lowland area near Chik-Wauk’s driveway.
The boardwalk begins at the southeast end of Chik-Wauk’s main parking area (right next to the small outbuilding you might have noticed near the Amikwiish Way hiking trail head) and winds its way through the woods before cutting across a low area next to an inlet of Saganaga Lake. The boardwalk connects with the pre-existing Rubaboo Road hiking trail. A platform in the middle of the boardwalk offers a spot where hikers can take in the view. The boardwalk is ADA accessible – wide enough for a wheelchair, with easy access onto the boardwalk right off of the driveway and with places to turn around a wheelchair. Some of the funding used for this project came from the Taste of the Gunflint Trail event earlier this fall.
You might notice that only the straight stretches of the boardwalk have been completed so far. The “finesse” work will be completed soon: at least in time for you to take a spin on the new boardwalk when Chik-Wauk reopens in May 2011!
Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center may be closed for the season, but there’s still plenty going on in the woods around the museum this time of year.
The snow definitely isn’t here to stay yet at the end of the Gunflint Trail, but a few mornings this last week dawned especially frosty. Many sources have predicted a snowy winter for northern Minnesota. While it doesn’t appear that the Gunflint Trail will have an especially early winter in 2010, there are plenty signs that winter’s well on its way.
One indicator of winter are the snow buntings. Anyone driving down the Gunflint Trail these days is sure to stir up flocks and flocks of snow buntings. These ground dwelling arctic birds migrate south every autumn. We might not have seen a lot of snow yet this year, but a flock of snow buntings taking to the air is certainly reminiscent of a blizzard!
Another winter bird has arrived. The beautifully colored pine grosbeaks seem to appear just as we’re losing the last of our autumn leaves. They’re a lovely splash of color in the otherwise bleak time before the snow falls.
The days are growing short and darkness is setting in. In these last fleeting autumn days, it’s time to put up the bird feeders and wait for the snow and cold to come in earnest. We know it’s coming.