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Gunflint Trail Welcome Signs

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.

Gunflint Trail Portage Sign

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!

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