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North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

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News and information, interviews, weather, upcoming events, music, school news, and many special features. North Shore Morning includes our popular trivia question - Pop Quiz! The North Shore Morning program is the place to connect with the people, culture and events of our region!

 


What's On:
Former Cook County Sheriff, John Lyght

West End News: September 1

I was surprised to hear that Tom Spence, from Schroeder, has resigned as the West End representative to the board of directors of North Shore Health, also known until recently, as North Shore Hospital and Care Center.
 
I encourage any West End resident that has an interest, to apply to fill out Tom’s term of service. We are blessed with excellent health care facilities here in Cook County, with North Shore Health covering inpatient services and the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic providing a wide array of outpatient services. The governance of both of these organizations has a long history of excellence and is critically important to the well being of the whole county. Contact hospital adminstrator Kimber Wraalstad if you are interested in serving.
 
Over 100 former residents of the Taconite Harbor housing development gathered last week in a reunion organized by the Schroeder Area Historical Society. I wish the reunion hadn’t fallen on such a busy weekend, so I could have attended. Nevertheless, it was fun to hear all the familiar names from my youth. Sadly, two of my best friends from Tac Harbor, Floyd and Roger Maxfield, have already passed on. 
 
The decision to close and dismantle Taconite Harbor was made right after my dad, Frank Hansen, became the county commissioner for the West End. He fought hard to convince the company, LTV Mining, to reconsider removing the houses from Taconite Harbor. He even arranged a meeting with the President of LTV, but his efforts, and the best efforts of many other politicians and community members, came to nothing. He always felt the company had a hidden agenda when it came to closing down the housing site. Indeed, their stated goal of using the area to store bulk materials never came to pass. I guess we’ll never know now, but the good memories of the good people who lived there are still very much alive.
 
The Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a nice historical piece last week about former Cook County Sheriff, John Lyght. It was, of course, a complimentary piece about a remarkable man. As with most of John’s press over the years, the article emphasized John’s niche in history as the first African American sheriff in Minnesota. John, and indeed most county residents, never really paid much attention to that particular accomplishment. Instead, most of us who knew John well, remember him for his honesty, good humor and no nonsense air of authority. He was truly a peace officer, using his judgment and common sense to keep Cook County a peaceful community. Some of his methods were unconventional, but the proof of his success was in his popularity with the voters.
 
Everyone who had more than a passing acquaintance with John, has a story of some remarkable deed, usually involving John’s ability to quietly command respect in any situation. He was truly a West End original and will be remembered after most of us have been long forgotten.
 
Speaking of West End originals, a memorial service to celebrate the life of Rob McCampbell will be held at Pancore Lake on Saturday, September 17, at 11 am. Rob was a well known man-about-town in the West End. He had a keen wit and was a good friend to many, many people. To find his celebration, drive 12 miles up the Sawbill Trail, turn right on the Pancore Lake Road, go 3.5 miles and turn right on Erickson Trail. Knowing Rob as well as I did, I’m sure his memorial will include a lot of laughter along with the tears.
 
The interesting characters of the West End, both past and present, are a big part of what makes it such an interesting place to live.
 
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.
 

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: August 26

My, oh my, August along the Gunflint has almost slipped away, barely noticed. Seeing September 2016 on the horizon is hard to comprehend. But it is what it is, so bring on month nine.  

With the last big summer season weekend just seven days away, vacation activities are fading fast and another school year has our attention. If this isn’t stirring enough interest, I see tinges of orange on maple leaves, and the berries of mountain ash and high bush cranberries are exchanging tints of green for fall-like decorations. 

Amidst this autumnal advancement, except for one day of clouds and rain during the previous week, the upper Gunflint has been sparkling. In fact, when beginning this commentary last Sunday evening, our neighborhood had been so “cool” windows around the house remained closed all day for the first time in many weeks. That in mind, the moose and I are in “hog heaven” hoping for more of the air conditioning. 

After ten days of working nine to five on the timber frame project, I’m back in the retirement saddle. It was a splendid, but challenging experience with fourteen other Gunflint Community volunteers and three other great new acquaintances from outside the county.                                                                            
Some interesting statistics were recorded by one of our group showing the enormity of our undertaking. To mention a few: of the eighteen volunteers, the average age was just shy of sixty-eight years; in terms of time spent, the group contributed 1440 hours and adding in 160 instructor hours, the project consumed 1600 total hours; also a good number of us commuted on a daily basis, spinning the odometer for some 8000 miles.   To top all of this off, there were few “sugar plums dancing in our heads” as several night time moments found us awake in the wee hours hoping for the next day's complicated cut, to be finished as designed. One of many interesting comments made during our shaping episodes included “my head is about ready to explode” when transferring blue print dimensions to actual cut lines on a raw piece of wood.  

Getting to the crux of this project, our sawdust/wood chiseling team crafted a total of 103 white pine timbers ranging in length from sixteen to twenty-eight feet. Being either eight by eight or eight by ten inches, they were monsters to move about.

Our vocabulary focused on the joinery jargon of shaping corner posts, king posts, tie beams, bents, knee braces, rafters, purlins and a ridge beam, all components of the 24 by 36 foot structure. Uncountable saw cuts, mortises, tenons and chamfers produced bushels of shavings and sawdust.  

In the end, we made it! No fatalities, one serious chisel drop accounting for ten stitches, and only four band-aids, all sandwiched in with comforting smiles, supportive tips and encouragement from teammates, and two splendid North House Folk School instructors. A job well done will be determined when all the puzzle pieces are joined together next summer.  

Another Trail topic over the past week fostered a bit of humorous entertainment for some passers-by, while understandably, raising the dander of others.   

 It all began as a situation where an apparent remodeling effort found someone with a used commode on their hands. Perhaps, either trying to elicit a laugh, or just being ill-informed as to the legality of dumping such a unit, it was set up along the Trail.  

The porcelain throne sat roadside for a few days before signage was added entitled “Rest Area.” As we wood chippers drove by on a daily basis, we found that the lid would be up one day and down the next. So others were obviously getting involved in whatever comedic relief was intended. A roll of TP being posted alongside must have been the tipping point.

With an implied image of this being a new Gunflint Trail rest area things were headed in a downward flush. One can only imagine what could have been next, and complaints were on the rise, so I found out via our district County Commissioner. This apparently led the county highway department to terminate the trickery. The obvious, non-compliant facility has since been removed, and things are back to normal with scenic Trail flora being the point of attention once again.   

This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great and some are even better!
 

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Superior National Forest Update: August 26

Hi.  This is Nancy Larson, district ranger on the Gunflint Ranger District, with the Superior National Forest Update -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Forest. For the week of August 26th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
Summer is winding down.  The flowers on the fireweed are slowly creeping their way up the stalk, and the countdown has begun.  When the blooms reach the top of the plant, summer is officially over.  The State Fair started this weekend, and so the local traffic here in the north country should be lighter than it has been.  This makes right now a great time to get out into the woods - after the summer rush, but before the start of the autumn leaf season.  Before you go out, you may think about starting to dig into the winter clothes.  Even though there are plenty of hot days left, there have been a few evenings cool enough to have to find where the polar fleece jacket got hung up last spring.
One sign of the end of summer is that we at the Forest Service have to start saying good-bye to our seasonal workers.  We’ve had a lot of help this year from crews in the Faces of Tomorrow and Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa programs, so thanks to them.  This is the last week of our summer naturalist programs as well, and our seasonal naturalist staff will be moving on, though one naturalist won’t be moving far as he has taking a teaching position in Silver Bay.  All of our sesaonals have worked hard this year, clearing debris from snow down and blow down events, helping with wildlife surveys, marking timber sales, patrolling the wilderness, and staffing our fire crew.  Thanks to all of our seasonal help, and good luck to them in their next adventures.
As you are out and about, you may run into trucks hauling gravel from Richey Lake Road to the Toohey Lake Campground this week and next.  They are coming from the Sawbill Trail area so are travelling most of the Grade west of Sawbill.
In the same area, log trucks can be expected on The Grade and Lake County 7 and 705.  You’ll also see them on Cook County 33 and the Sawbill Landing Road.
On the Gunflint side of things, harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, and Powers Lake Road.  Log hauling will be taking place on these roads, so please use caution when driving or recreating in these areas.
Enjoy these last weeks of summer and, this has been Nancy Larson with the National Forest Update.

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Historic Ranger Dwelling, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the U. S. Forest Service Tofte District compound

West End News: August 25

The U.S. Forest Service is holding a public open house at the historic Ranger’s Dwelling on the Tofte Ranger District compound on Sunday, August 28, from 11 am until 1 pm.

The Ranger’s Dwelling was a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was part of the "New Deal" during the recovery from the Great Depression of the early 1930s. Recently, the beautiful log cabin has been undergoing extensive rehabilitation lead by the Superior National Forest and largely staffed by volunteers.

The open house also will serve as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, which has been responsible for saving and preserving so many historically significant buildings across our region. In addition to a guided tour of the cabin, there will be historical displays and historic photos of the West End.

The Civilian Conservation Corps was particularly active in Cook County during its existence from 1933 until 1942. It provided conservation jobs for unemployed men between the ages of 17 and 28. The goal was to provide immediate jobs, teach work skills, improve health and improve employability. The secondary goal was to complete long-term conservation projects and increase appreciation for the great outdoors and natural resources.

With the benefit of now considerable hindsight, it is clear that the CCC was one of most successful government relief programs ever. It provided work and dignity to 3 million young men who would have suffered without the program.

Up until about 20 years ago, we used to get a lot of former CCC members stopping in at Sawbill to reminisce about their days at the Sawbill CCC camp. Their praise for the program and the positive impact it had on their lives was universal. In fact, many respected Cook County families are the descendents of CCC workers who stayed on and made their lives in the area.

The CCC also ran separate programs for veterans and Native Americans, helping them to weather the Great Depression. Seventy percent of all the new enrollees in the CCC entered service either malnourished, poorly clothed, or both.

The scope of work done by the CCC is staggering. Enrollees planted 3 billion trees, some of which we now enjoy as mature forests right here in the West End. They constructed trails, portages, lodges and related facilities in more than 800 parks across the country. They built roads, did erosion control and upgraded most of America’s state parks. Many CCC projects, like the Tofte District Ranger Dwelling, are still in active use and benefiting America after all these years.

Many people, including me, are calling for a revival of the CCC, especially in times of economic downturn. It is truly a win, win, win concept in terms of human dignity, return on investment and national service. If Congress ever decides to start doing their jobs again, this would be a great place for them to start.

I should mention the existing Conservation Corps of Minnesota, which is a similar, if much more modest, program targeted at youth. This is a great program and another example of something that government can do exceptionally well.

This is the time of year when the tourism workers around the West End really kick it into high gear. Not only has this been a busy summer, but the seasonal workers who attend college are all leaving, so the remaining folks have to take up the slack. This means a lot of short-handedness at local resorts, retail and restaurants, so be patient and kind with the harried and overworked staffs. November will eventually arrive and we will all be able to draw a collective breath.

For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.

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Schoodic Point

Gus' Wild Side: An encounter at Schoodic Point

Acadia National Park is located along the coast of Maine. Gus worked at Acadia as a Park Ranger, and remembers a special story told by a visitor to this beautiful spot.

Gus’ Wild Side is a regular feature on WTIP. Gus writes about our connections to Nature as he explores wildness from the High Arctic to his own backyard along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

(Photo courtesy of Kim Carpenter on Flickr)

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A Year in the Wilderness: August 22 - Four boys and fall

Cook County adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a year in the wilderness. On a regular basis they’ll be sharing some of their experiences traveling the BWCAW.

(Photo courtesy of Dave and Amy's Facebook page)

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Northern Sky: August 20 - September 2

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota, where she authors the Minnesota Starwatch column.

Venus and Jupiter are seen low in the west; Mars will put on a show of speed. The "summer triangle" will appear in the south. The Milky Way stretches from northeast to southwest across the evening sky.

(Photo courtesy of Philippe Put on Flickr)

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Superior National Forest Update: August 19

Hi. This is Joe Mundell, timber sales administrator on the Gunflint Ranger District, with the Superior National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Forest. For the week of August 19, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

It has been a hot and stormy summer so far. A lot of people are turning to the lakes for relief from the heat, and nothing feels as good as the cold water of one of our northern lakes on a hot day. Many of our popular swimming holes have rocks that people like to jump from. If you choose to do this, please be extra careful this season. As water levels change with the recent rains, the depth of your landing area will change. Many people think that because the lake level is high, diving areas must be safe. In reality, high water levels may hide rocks that are otherwise visible. Always scout out the area you plan to jump into before you jump - in other words, look before you leap.

This time of year is good for cycling, and our back roads beckon to many mountain bikers. The paved roads often have cyclists who may be burdened with full packs and trailers. Either way, few of our roads have wide shoulders, and most bicycles are traveling in the same lanes as motor vehicles. Slow down and use caution when passing bicycles, and remember they have a right to occupy a lane. Cyclists should also remember that they share the road with motor vehicles, and use hand signals to show their intentions. When available, cyclists should always use bike lanes and bike trails instead of heavily traveled roads like Highway 61.

Moose viewing seems to be picking up, and with it come moose induced traffic jams. If you stop to watch or photograph a moose, make sure your car is off the roadway. In places where there are many people pulled off to watch, limit your time so others can pull in as well. Don’t approach moose. Getting too near a moose, particularly one with a calf, can cause it to become aggressive. Use a zoom lens and binoculars instead of walking closer.

Unlike out West, our fire situation is pretty calm. The forest is well watered, and there has been little fire activity out in the woods. Even in these conditions, you still need to make sure your campfires are dead out before you leave them, and you should stay aware of the fire danger level that Smokey points out at the ranger station and DNR office signs.

There is some logging activity, mostly in the same places as last week, and you’ll have to watch for trucks hauling in these areas. In the Tofte District, there is activity on The Grade between the Sawbill Trail and Baker Lake, Sawbill Landing road near Silver Island, and County Rd 7 near Harriet Lake. On Gunflint, harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, and Powers Lake Road. Please use caution when driving or recreating in these areas.

 Stay cool in the heat, and until next week, this has been Joe Mundell with the National Forest Update.

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Gunflint Volunteers at the Woodchippers Hall

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: August 19

The Gunflint Trail is alive with summer visitors as we head into week four of month eight. As luck would have it “Mother Nature” has provided some sparkling conditions over the past seven. Pleasant days with comfortable temps have been complemented by a couple night time rains yielding slightly over one and one-third inches here in this neighborhood.

Fall continues to nudge along as I’ve been watching on daily runs to Grand Marais for the timber framing class of which several Gunflint neighbors are participating. Speaking of this undertaking, it’s an energizing project that will end this coming Sunday.

It’s definitely been a lifestyle change for many of us as we put our retirement on vacation to go back to work each day from nine to five. I didn’t realize how much I’ve come to enjoy leisurely mornings until they went away.

Although the learning curve has been quite high for those of us with little to no experience, we are learning more each day and gaining comfort with reading prints and using tools of the art. As we hone out the components for this neat project, it might well be this is a crafty gang at the “wood chippers hall” and by “hall” I mean the red building at North House Folk School. One can view the mighty sawdust makers as they gathered for work one morning by hitting the website, WTIP.org and clicking on the Wildersmith column.

The annual mid-Trail homeowners summer celebration is into the books for another year following last week's flea market, gift boutique and auction. A big crowd turned out at the fire hall number one and when all was said and done, those folks raised $13,000 on behalf of the Trail Historical Society and our volunteer fire department.

By the way the ever-popular mid-Trail stitchers 2016 quilt raffle found Samantha Payne of White Bear Lake with the lucky ticket as the event came to a close. Congrats and thanks to Chair Judy Edlund and her wonderful group of volunteers for putting together another swell afternoon on the Gunflint Trail.

As if Judy Edlund didn’t have enough to do with this past event, she is looking for Trail pastry artisans to step up with the donation of a pie for our Labor Day weekend pie and ice cream social on the grounds at Chik-Wauk. The sweet treats will be served on Sunday, September 4, from noon until 4:00pm. Anyone wishing to donate a pie should contact Judy at 388-4400.

As we passed the full Ojibwe “blueberry moon” in the wee hours of Thursday morning, the fervor for blueberry heaven continues. Although many easily accessible patches have been picked over, those willing to go the extra mile into rough back country are finding buckets of the blue/purple gems.

The “Woods, Winds and Strings” concert held last Sunday was a melodious whisper through our Gunflint pines. Another sell-out crowd enjoyed many renowned musicians from our “tip of the arrowhead” talent pool. Thanks go out to organizer Susan Scherer, many of the usual Trail volunteers, all performers and of course a fine audience.

Up at the Chik-Wauk Nature Center this weekend, wildlife enthusiasts will want to be there for a program on the ever-changing Canadian Lynx population in the upper Trail territory. Making the presentation at 2:00pm will be USFS wildlife specialist David Grosshuesch.

A final note comes from one of our local resort owners. Last Monday while guiding a guest on Gunflint Lake near Campers Island, the scent of smoke was detected from nearby shore. Investigation found an unattended, still-burning campfire with brush placed on top of the flaming fire ring. Adding insult to an impending disaster, trash remains and plastic had been included in the blaze which is a recognized no-no for wilderness users.

Obviously Gunflint Trail residents dodged a bullet thanks to a good friend being in the right place at the right time. This carelessness is in-excusable regardless of whether the perpetrator was a visitor or a local. Campfires must be “dead/cold” out before departing any wilderness site!!!!

This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where all days are great and some are even better!!!

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Some of Ontario's finest junior cross country skiers, relaxing at the Tofte General Store after a 20 mile roller skiing workout

West End News: August 18

Earlier this week, I was on the town run from Sawbill to Tofte. I had been driving on the brand new pavement for a couple of miles, when I was pleased and surprised to see two cross-country skiers on roller skis coming toward me. As they drew near, I could see that they were extremely fit and skilled young skiers. Their technique was flawless and they were flying down the road.

As I continued toward town, I was thinking that roller skiing is a great new use for the flawless new pavement. As I crested the next hill, here were two more skiers, equally fit and skilled, also cruising along at top-speed. Behind them came four more, then six, then a pack of 20 and then more than I could count. They were all young, fit and fast. Just before I got to Tofte, I saw a van covered with skiing stickers, so I stopped to get the lowdown.

It turned out to be an elite junior training program from the Lappi Nordic Centre near Thunder Bay. It was a joint training camp, so it included members of the Nordic Loppet Club of Minneapolis. There were 57 teenaged skiers, including one Junior Olympian, and a handful of coaches and assistants. The group stayed in Lutsen and Grand Marais for the long weekend, before moving over to Marquette, Michigan, for more training.

The coach I talked to said that he had chosen the Sawbill Trail for its two miles of almost continuous upslope, but when he scouted it two weeks ago, he was disappointed to see the black top ended at the top of the hill. Imagine his surprise when he came back last week to find 8 more miles of perfect asphalt. Many of the skiers took full advantage, skiing the entire 20 mile round trip. Both coaches and skiers were enthusiastic about the terrain, asphalt and relative lack of traffic. I must say, they were very polite and careful not to interfere with traffic. They told me that they would be back for future training camps, adding a small, unexpected economic boost from the brand new paving job.

The skiers I talked to had never skied the fabulous Sugarbush Trail system, although they had been biking on the single-track mountain bike trails and were enthusiastic about that system. Maybe it’s time for the West End to start thinking about a Nordic training center of our own?

I’d like to put in a plug for the Facebook group called “North Shore Tribe.” It seems to be mostly current and past North Shore residents who post contemporary and historical photos. The historical photos usually trigger a bunch of mini-memoirs from the older members of the group. It’s not only entertaining, but also a good historical record of everyday life on the North Shore over the last 60 years or so. It’s a public group, so anyone can see it – just search North Shore Tribe on Facebook.

Mark your calendars now for the 20th anniversary celebration at the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum in Tofte. The weekend of September 3rd will include a lot of fishy fun on the museum plaza to celebrate the museum’s opening just 20 short years ago. There will be songs, storytelling around a campfire, kids games, fishcakes, fish recipes, fish sales, and tours of the museum and outdoor exhibits. Call 663-7050 for more details and times.

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