A Taste of Gunflint Trail History – Part 1
In 1915, Charlie & Petra Boostrom founded Clearwater Historic Lodge & Canoe Outfitters. This year we celebrate our centennial — 100 years of helping guests explore the beauty and tranquility of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. We’ve been sharing stories about the Boostrom’s and the early days of Clearwater Historic Lodge and the Gunflint Trail.
The following blog comes from an article reporting on the keynote address by long-time resident, author, and contributing columnist Justine Kerfoot to the Historical Society. This was published in the Cook County News-Herald on October 27, 1983.
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“Kerfoot spoke of road conditions in the 1920’s along the North Shore and the Gunflint Trail and how it was a full day trip in good weather from Duluth to Grand Marais, with the road following the contours of the shoreline closely, a quagmire in the road at Cross River and Stickney’s Store often meant getting a team of horses or a piece o f equipment to free an automobile, she said.
“The Gunflint Trail was originally a winter trail for trappers and Indians, from Gunflint Lake to Grand Marais, with the summer trail along the Pigeon River, she said. She recalled how the gravel rocky road wound up the hill from Grand Marais to the Little Devil Track River and then zig-zagged back and forth along section lines in Maple Hill, past the school and then back to ‘Grandma Hedstrom’s house.’ From that point north, there was a five-mile burned clear area up to the pines that piled up the snow to ten feet at times, she said. ‘A trip down the trail might be fine in the winter until that point, and then there was a lot of digging to do.
“When snowplowing was started it was only twice a year, once at Christmas and once in the spring, and it was sort of a game. If you had to go to town, you hoped that someone else was ahead of you, clearing the drifts and hills. Then on the way back, you hoped that they were ahead of you again.
“Turning to resort development, Kerfoot said that the first resort on the Gunflint Trail was on Greenwood Lake about 1920, operated by Gilbert Gilbertsen for hunting and fishing and later primarily for fishing. THere was a spur up to the Spaulding Mind and up to Clearwater Lake, where the Boostroms offered extended canoe trips. Gateway Lodge was started by two people from Wisconsin who hired eight or ten local trappers to guide bly-fishing trips. Justine said that she came to the area in 1924 and her family purchased the lodge at Gunflint Lake from Dora Blankenberg in 1928.”
(To be continued in Part 2)