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North Shore Weekend


  • Saturday 7-10am
Host CJ Heithoff brings you this Saturday morning show, created at the request of WTIP listeners.  North Shore Weekend features three hours of community information, features, interviews, and music. It's truly a great way to start your weekend on the North Shore. Arts, cultural and history features on WTIP’s North Shore Weekend are made possible with funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.



What's On:

Wildersmith on the Gunflint November 17

WTIP News     November 17, 2017     Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith

As “old father time” would have it, we’ve passed the halfway mark of November.  While the days have whisked by, the day of the big gobbling bird is suddenly on the menu. Although we Americans should be giving thanks every day for our bounteous blessings, its striking many can only bundle thanks into one day a year.                                                                                                               
“Old man winter” has pulled in his horns in recent days. However, it didn’t begin until he had delivered some frosty reminders of things to come. During the cold snap, the Wildersmith neighborhood recorded our first below zero temps and a couple days where the mercury could rise only into the single digits.                                                                                                                                        
Talk about dedication or maybe craziness, during one of those single digit days last week, a boat of fisher people went by on the Gunflint Gal. To yours truly, one must have a serious addiction to angling to be wetting a hook in such bitter conditions and dangerously cold waters. Fishing through the ice is one thing, but the risk this time of year seems not worthy.                                         
The other element of the season has been sparse, as a few clippers have whistled through dropping only a skiff each time. Nevertheless, it was enough to freshen up the six to eight inches already layered throughout the territory until the recent meltdown.                                                                                           
An interesting article caught my attention recently in the November-December issue of MINNESOTA CONSERVATION VOLUNTEER. Author Mark Spoden relates to sounds in the cold stillness of the woods from a deer hunters point of view. As I have often talked about din in the winter forest, Spodens’ spin on trying to be noiseless while getting from the vehicle to the deer stand is abundantly humorous. In addition his commentary is thought provoking on the incidental clatter we take for granted, inadvertently made while trying to be quiet in a noise-filled world. I urge listeners to get a copy of MCV and enjoy this article. Regardless of one’s enthusiasm for hunting, the last paragraph says it all!                                                                                                                                  
 I can’t help but reflect joy in the pure beauty of driving down a back country road this time of year. Such white charm is never so taken for granted until on a return trip from the village, I perused through forty plus miles of man-made slop on the Trail with temps hanging around the freezing point. It’s amazing what a mess we humans can make out of such purity, all for the sake of drivers never having to slow down.  I can accept it has to be for safety benefit, but it is so grungy.                                                                                                                                           
Contrast was stark as I departed the public thoroughfare onto the privacy of the Mile O Pine. The gray/brown wintry sloppiness of human conveyance routine, suddenly gave way to another world.                                                                                                                                                                        
Roadway snow remained white as the day it fell. Except for the snow plowers’ blade and a few pair of tire tracks, the path less traveled showed nary a trace that anyone had passed. This un- tainted majesty of winter off the beaten Trail goes unmatched in the total scheme of natures’ seasonal bounty, including our autumn color show. To carry beautiful viewing a bit farther, snow in general covers up a lot of the worlds’ ugliness. How lucky are we backwoods beings!                                                                                                                                                                                        
The season of joy and giving got off to a rambunctious start last week with the “Join Together” membership drive here at WTIP. As always, energies were in high gear as staff and volunteers put together a well-oiled program seeking year-end financial support for this shining beacon in the north.                                                                                                                                                         
Once again, members, both renewing and new, stepped up with their pledges to help see WTIP through the winter ahead. Five and one-half days, of both frivolity and yet serious commitments, netted the WTIP Staff and family of listeners hope and happiness for a bright 2018. From everyone at the station, congratulations and thanks to ALL that made it possible. What a Family!                                                                                                                                                                
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as the symphony of cold stillness, reveals!



West End News November 16

West End News 11/16/2017
While I’m pretty familiar with the onset of winter in the West End, having grown up here, this year I’m experiencing my first winter season with a toddler in tow. Our adventurous 18 month old is pretty used to spending lots of time outside, but is still adjusting to the boots and hat routine, not to mention walking through snow that comes up to her thighs already. Moving through deep snow in 6 layers of puffy clothing has certainly slowed her, and therefore me, down quite a bit. This has actually been a welcome change. While standing around the woods we’ve seen flocks of grosbeaks, many a chickadee, one friendly pine-marten, and several snowshoe hares. The hares are mostly sporting white bellies and ears, with some brown spots remaining along their backs.
While the shore is relatively snow-free at this point, there is about a foot on the ground most places over the hill. So if you want to get a jump on some Christmas photos, head on up. Many inland lakes have frozen over at this point, with rumors of some wild ice in a few places. Many lakes, though, are still too thin to travel on.
If all the snow is leaving you and your little with some excess energy to burn, you can head on over to the Clair Nelson Center in Finland for their Toddler Playtime. On Tuesdays from 2-4 in the afternoon their doors are open to parents, toddlers and older siblings for an unstructured playdate.
Snow and ice also means I’m spending much more of my time stoking our wood boiler to keep the house nice and toasty. While I busily build the biggest hottest fire I can in the center of our log home, my mind often wanders to the good work of our local volunteer fire departments. We are so very fortunate to have such dedicated individuals who serve on our fire, ems and rescue squads.
 One easy way to support these fine folks is to attend the annual Lutsen Fireman’s Ball. This event is a fabulous excuse to get dressed up, enjoy a three course dinner, up-bid your neighbor in the great silent auction, and dance the night away with Big Wave Dave and the Ripples. And it’s all for a good cause! The Ball will be on December 2nd this year and there are still a few tickets available. Tickets are only available until this Sunday, November 19, so if you’re interested, now is the time! You can get a ticket by emailing Danielle Fortin. Her email is That’s Danielle at
One last minute reminder that Birch Grove’s annual benefit silent-auction event is happening on Friday, November 17th  starting at 5pm at Papa Charlies. See you there!
For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.


Short-tailed shrew

North Woods Naturalist: Red-toothed shrews

The Incredible Shrinking Shrew. No, it’s not the title of a Sci-Fi movie. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about a winter survival tactic of red-toothed shrews.


Albert Bally in WWI uniform

Albert Bally's WWI Letters Home

On April 7, 1917, the United States responded to three years of uncertainty and aggression by declaring war on Germany. The U.S. was now a part of World War I. One month later, at age 20, Albert Bally left his college studies in Milwaukee to enlist in the U.S. Army. His letters home to Grand Marais over the next two years follow the highlights of America's World War I experience, from mobilizing an army of millions of men, to combat in the trenches, to the American occupation of Germany after Armistice Day in November of 1918. With directness and sometimes humor, Al's letters illuminate the challenges of communication and the suspense faced by American families who waited weeks for every precious letter to make it home.

WTIP's Sterling Anderson reads a sample of Albert Bally’s World War I letters each Friday at 9:45 a.m. on North Shore Morning. 

The most recently aired segment can be found at the bottom of this page.

Links to archived segments are provided below:

Part one, originally aired July 28.

Part two, originally aired August 4.

Part three, originally aired August 11.

Part four, originally aired August 18.

Part five, originally aired August 25.

Part six, originally aired September 1.

Part seven, originally aired September 8.

Part eight, originally aired September 15.

Part nine, originally aired September 22.

Part ten, originally aired September 29.

Part 11, originally aired October 6

Part 12, originally aired October 13

Part 13, originally aired October 20

Part 14, originally aired October 27

Part 15, originally aired November 3

Part 16, originally aired November 10


Albert Bally was born in Bayfield, Wisconsin on August 10, 1896, the youngest child of Sam and Nancy Bally. Shortly thereafter, the Ballys moved to Grand Marais, where Sam opened a blacksmithing business. Al and his brother, Bill, and his sister, Blanche, grew up in Grand Marais, where they were some of the first high school graduates. Al began a degree in electrical engineering, but put his education on hold to volunteer for the U.S. Army when the United States entered the war. He served in France, Luxembourg, and Germany, and was wounded in October of 1918, before returning home in May of 1919. He achieved the rank of Corporal and served the entire war with Company C of the 107th Signal Battalion in the 32nd Division, a unit that received acclaim for its extensive combat experience.  

After returning to the U.S., Al finished his degree in electrical engineering and graduated at the top of his class, married Mary Landergott of Milwaukee, and took jobs in St. Louis and Chicago. Shortly thereafter, Al and Mary moved back to Grand Marais, where he took over his father's blacksmithing business. He remained in Grand Marais the rest of his life and was an active citizen in public affairs. Albert Bally passed away December 11, 1990, and is buried in the Maple Hill Cemetery.  

Albert Bally is profiled in the Cook County History Museum's new exhibit, On the Line: A Military History of Cook County. His entire collection of letters is transcribed and available to read in the exhibit, along with many of his photographs and some of his belongings from his service in Europe.

Photo courtesy of Cook County Historical Society archives.



Wildersmith on the Gunflint November 10, 2017

WTIP News     November 10, 2017     Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith

Here we are smack dab into November, and the character of month eleven seems right on schedule. Border country has experienced a little bit of everything weather-wise. Since we last gathered on WTIP, about the only climatic element which we’ve seen little of is sunshine.                                                          

Over the last week it’s snowed some, melted some, rained some and snowed some more. As I scribe this weeks’ news, the gales of November are slamming waves against the granite shores of Gunflint Lake and frigid temps have taken over. There’s plenty of bite in the frosty air.                                                                                                                                                                         
Clouds over head caused this territory to miss the “freezing-over” moon of last weekend, but the spirit of “his lunar highness” has been gaining momentum in recent days. With exception of the bigger bodies of water, lakes are iced over along the Trail, and wetland ponds are locked up for the winter. Yes, the “freezing-over” moon is doing just that!                              

The great Minnesota deer hunting season kicked off last weekend, and reports from hunters around the Gunflint Lake area are disappointing. Few if any tracks have been observed let alone the real thing. One hunter stated, the only tracks in the snow have been those of the Gunflint/ Loon Lake wolf pack. It’s for certain the wolves are so in command they have forced the deer population into near extinction in the upper Trail. This venison happening has occurred by both consumption and herd migration toward the North Shore highlands above Grand Marais. Though few and far between, there are a handful of the white tailed critters around, so perhaps this next week will see a little luck for those sitting in the woods.                                                        

Around Wildersmith, the fisher is becoming an everyday kind of guy/gal. One night it will make enough clatter while rummaging around to wake me up, then on other darkness sojourns it just leaves imprints in the snow as an attendance check-in. To date there hasn’t been too much animal protein as an attraction, but nevertheless, it has a greedy appetite for sunflower seeds.                                                                                                                                                                
A fellow down the road reported another chapter in the wildland predator/prey saga. This time he spotted a pine marten loitering around the yard. Apparently hungry, “old Marty” had its eye on a squirrel who’d been munching around his feed tray.                                                                                 

To make a long story short as possible, the marten got after the red rodent chasing it up a tall spruce tree. Cornering lunch potential at the tree top with no means of escape, a leap to the branch of a nearby tree found the marten having nabbed a squirrel dinner. With a meal secured, it was next seen scrambling down the timber and then scampered off into the forest.                                                                                                                                                                                        
As the snow has been thawing some, then re-freezing to a crusty state to make natural seed sources scarce, avian traffic has become a blur in recent days. Most notable seed tray visitors have been those blue bullies of the airways. At times we have a “blue wave” of jays swarming the feed tray. Since we’ve seen almost no blue in the skies of late, they do offer a bit of azure brilliance, but scare the daylights out of all the little winged fellows.                                                                      
More sadness has befallen the family of Jean Foster who I mentioned as passing away in last weeks’ column. Just six days following her death on October 25th, husband Robert Foster died in Hospice on November 1st. The two resided in West Des Moines, Iowa, but spent summers on Gunflint Lake for decades. Life takes many turns as it has in the case of Jean and Bob where ironically, their times together continue in another heavenly place. Peace and sympathies to their daughters and granddaughter from the Gunflint Trail friends and neighbors.           

Word is out on a Bluegrass Concert Saturday (the 11TH) up this way. The event will be held in the Conference Center at Gunflint Lodge beginning at 7:30. Featured artists are Bluegrass Hall of Famer, Dick Kimmel and Pamela Longtine.  For ticket information call, Gunflint Lodge 388-2294 or go to their website, https://www.                                                                                                                                                                              
The WTIP fall/winter membership drive is in full swing. My “Join Together” pitch from last week is now a reality. WTIP needs you!                                                                                                        

Please don’t forget your end-of-the-year giving couldn’t go to a more worthwhile community non-profit venture. Show your support with a pledge by calling 387-1070 or toll free at 1-800-473-9847; or click and join online at; or stop by the studios at 1712 West Highway 61 and commit to help in person. Thanks in advance for caring, from the Wildersmith two!                                                                                                                                                                                       

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Trail, where every day is great, as told by winds through the pines!



Superior National Forest Update November 10, 2017

Hi.  I’m Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Assistant, with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior.  With the change of season, we’re changing this program to air only every other week until spring.  Here’s what’s happening these next two weeks.

Winter is definitely here, especially inland, up over the hill.  Snow may have melted along the shore, but you don’t have to get too far from Lake Superior until you hit the white stuff.  While the trails aren’t groomed, people have already been skiing at Pincushion.  This is the time of year though that snowmobiles can really do some damage to that base layer of snow which gives us good trails all winter.  On trails, take it easy so you don’t dig through the snow to the ground, or wait until trails are packed by a groomer.  Cross country snowmobile travel isn’t allowed until there is four inches or more of snow on the ground, and snowmobiles are never allowed on plowed roads. 

Lakes are beginning to ice in, but none of them are really safe to be on yet.  Most large lakes are still open, but at least Sawbill is iced over.  Some roads are iced over too - it’s time to remember all you forgot about winter driving over the past several months.  Slow down, be cautious, and give yourself time to relearn how your vehicle handles and brakes on snow and ice.  There are fewer people out on the roads in the winter, so leave an itinerary of where you are going with someone.  That way, if you do run off the road, someone will eventually come looking for you.
Truck traffic is using the same roadways as last week.  Hauling on Gunflint is taking place on the following roads: Firebox, Blueberry, Greenwood, Shoe Lake, South Brule, Lima Grade, Ball Club, Devil Track, Forest Road 1385 and the Gunflint Trail.  Tofte logging traffic will be on the Pancore, Sawbill Trail, Dumbbell River Road, Wanless Road, Lake County 7 and 705, the 4 Mile Grade, The Grade, Perent Lake Road, Trappers Lake Road, Temperance River Road, and the Six Hundred Road. 

There are plenty of hunters out in the woods during deer season.  Whether or not you are hunting, stay safe and wear orange when you are in the woods.  You and your pet!  Respect no trespassing signs on private land, and remember that some private roads may be closed to motor use, even if they cross public land.  Use your Motor Vehicle Use Map to find out what roads are open to what use in the winter.  If you don’t like paper, but love technology, you can download these maps and use an app that shows your exact location on the map.  Remember, take those deer stands down after season, and no permanent stands are to be left on National Forest lands.

Along with our activities, our birds are shifting to winter.  Flocks of snow buntings along the roadsides create beautiful displays of black and white wings when they take off, but are unfortunately easy to hit with vehicles.  There are still lots of migrating hawks, particularly rough legged hawks, which can be seen perched by the side of Highway 61.  Redpolls and pine grosbeaks are back for winter at feeders, but since there are still a few bears up and about, you should still be taking in those feeders at night.

We are looking for some citizen science input on lynx.  Winter snow makes these secretive cats easier to find because of their tracks.  If you find lynx tracks, take a picture with your phone.  Put a glove or coin or something else near the track in the photo to show how large it is.  If your phone notes the GPS coordinates with the photo, that’s great, otherwise note the area you where you found tracks, and let us know. 

It is time to quit complaining about the end of fall and start enjoying our Minnesota winter.   Those last minute fall chores that never happened because of the snowfall, well, you’ll just have to figure them out next spring. Until next time, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest update.



West End News November 2

West End News 11/2/2017
A big thank you to all the volunteers who made this year’s Birch Grove Halloween carnival such a success. The rooms and hallways were packed full of costumed kids playing games, doing crafts, and even building bat houses thanks to the US Forest Service. I hadn’t been to the carnival since I was a costumed kid, and it was fun to see that it really is just as big and fun as I remember it.
There’s no rest for these industrious volunteers though, as the annual Birch Grove benefit at Papa Charlies is coming right up! The event will be on Friday, November 17th. There is a lasagna dinner and silent auction that will run from 5 to 8pm. Music by Mysterious Ways will be happening from 7:30 to 9:30. This event isn’t limited to Birch Grove families, everyone is welcome to come check out the great silent auction items and enjoy some socializing with your neighbors.
I must tell you that the rumors are true, we do in fact have quite the blanket of white fluffy snow up here in the woods. We got almost 7 inches overnight last week and have had about another inch since then. I’d say we were about 95% ready for the snow, the canoes are in storage and the water drained from our summer buildings. Of course, there were a few odd ladders and other things that did get buried. We’d been telling ourselves that we’d finish the last round up of outdoor things once this first snowfall inevitably melts. After waiting a week and closely watching the forecast though, we resorted to winter jackets and shovels. The lakes are not yet frozen, of course, so we have a somewhat unique window where there is open water but very wintery woods. The trees are covered in white and the water is a dark grey. It’s beautiful, but not particularly inviting.
All this snow, and the passing of Halloween, has got me in the mood for the holidays. Don’t hold it against me, but I’m ready for twinkly lights, cookies, caroles, the whole bit! Lucky for me, I can get some Christmas shopping in at the Clair Nelson Community Center in Finland this weekend. The Finland Community Bazaar will be on Saturday, November 4th from 10am to 3pm. The Bazaar features many local vendors and crafters, as well as food and music.
Speaking of Finland, we had a lovely couple from the actual country visit the outfitter recently. They were staying on the shore for a portion of their US vacation. I of course asked if they had heard of Finland, Minnesota. In fact, they had! They had visited the town just the day before, purely because they saw the name on a map and had to see it for themselves. They said they very much enjoyed their visit and got a real kick out of all the, quote unquote, “Finnish” wording used around town. They reported that while the spelling and grammar were creative, they were able to understand the meaning most of the time.
For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.



Albert Bally's WWI Letters Home

Albert Bally - Letter Home WWI  #15