A couple recent posts about wildlife on the Gunflint Trail from Steve Ramberg and Sue Prom got us thinking about the role wildlife’s played throughout Gunflint Trail history. The Gunflint Trail has always been a wild place where humans and wildlife often cross paths. Historically, wildlife have provided Gunflint Trail residents with a livelihood, food, and many, many good stories. In Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center’s own short history, we’ve had several encounters with moose, foxes, loons, turtles, and more. One of our favorite run-ins with wildlife came this past June when Mama Moose and her two calves decided to take an after lunch stroll on Chik-Wauk’s nature trails. (See above photo.)
Here are some of our favorite wildlife stories from the Gunflint Trail historical archives:
In Janna Webster’s Ki-osh-kons: people, places and stories of Seagull Lake, Webster described how Gunflint Trail doyenne and owner of several Gunflint Trail businesses, Eve Blankenburg could predict bear trouble, much to the dismay of her husband, Russell: “[Eve] was able to accurately predict when they would have bear trouble at the resort. She would occasionally announce, ‘We are going to have a bear tonight.’ It just about did Russell in that Eve could do this. Eve never did tell him that her clairvoyance was due to the fact that, without fail, they would get a visiting bear anytime she cooked a ham.”
Sue Kerfoot remembered in The Gunflint Lodge Cookbook, a hair-raising experience with wolves one winter during her early days on Gunflint Lake: “I was home alone with only our dog, Itzy, for companionship. My city fears of being alone at night were coming to the surface. Itzy was really restless. She kept getting up to look out the window. The fur would stand up on her neck. I let her out. Then she wanted in. Five minutes later it was out again. The outside flood light was on. I couldn’t see anything except deep shadows. Finally I stepped outside to see if I could hear anything. There was a pack of wolves very close to the house. Their howling sounded like it was right next to me. A chill went down my spine. I stepped back into the house and called Itzy in. For the next few minutes I sat inside and tried to convince myself that it was silly to be afraid. What could the wolves do to me? I was inside; they were outside.”
Wildlife of any size can create quite the impression. Paula Beattie remembers one incident while operating Moosehorn Lodge (now Cross River Lodge) in A Taste of the Gunflint Trail: “I was painting the kitchen when I heard a noise. I peeked around the corner into the dining room and saw nothing. I inched my way toward the living room. The noise of something wildly moving around was getting louder, and then I saw it: a DUCK! It was flying around the room crashing into windows, which is pretty much the whole front of the lodge. I was relieved, but then I had to get him out. “ Eventually, Beattie would get the duck out of the building, but it proved to be just the beginning of many wildlife encounters during her time on the Trail.
You can read more personal tales of wildlife encounters in the local resident book located in Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center’s reading corner.
What are some of your favorite Gunflint Trail wildlife stories?