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History Speaks

Henry Mayhew in Grand Marais

History Speaks is an exploration and presentation of aspects of our region's past. Through shared stories with familiar voices, we delve into our region's rich history to help foster an appreciation and understanding of the community in which we find ourselves today. This series utilizes archival tape, documents and first-hand interviews to help paint a picture of events, places, and people important in our area's past.

Arts, cultural and history features on WTIP are made possible in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Check out other programs and features funded in part with support from the Heritage Fund.

What's On:
Artist's Point

History Speaks: Artist's Point

Artist's Point is a landmark in Grand Marais, a distinctive spit of land that extends into Lake Superior. The history and importance of the Point is explored in this edition of WTIP's series, History Speaks.


Billy Magee with Ernest Oberholtzer

History Speaks: Ernest Oberholtzer - Advocate for the Quetico-Superior

HistorySpeaks_Oberholtzer_20141231.mp327.07 MB

Ernest Oberholtzer was a quiet man who lived most of his life on an island in Rainy Lake. He is also responsible for the protection of much of the Quetico, the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. He was also an explorer, photographer, preservationist and spoke fluent Ojibwe. But Oberholtzer is not a well-known figure in the history of the Minnesota-Ontario border lakes region. His life and contributions to the protection of this pristine area - and the reasons for him being relatively little-known - are explored in this edition of WTIP's series, History Speaks.

(Photo courtesy of National Park Service)


Petra Boostrom stands in front of furs collected from her trapline.

History Speaks: The Gunflint Trail

HSGunflintTrail.mp328.52 MB

Turn off the beaten path and head up the Gunflint Trail for this edition of History Speaks from producer Ada Igoe. Meet some of the hardworking residents who worked and lived on the Gunflint Trail during the mid-twentieth century. You’ll be introduced to everyday life in this remote Cook County community, a place rich in natural beauty and solitude, if not modern convenience.

All photos courtesy of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society archives.


The Art Colony building today

History Speaks features the story of the Art Colony studio building

FifthThurs_HistorySpeaksArtColony_7P_THURS_082913.mp3108.98 MB

Listen to the latest edition of WTIP’s ongoing series, History Speaks, first broadcast on Thursday, August 29. In this edition we hear the story of the Grand Marais Art Colony studio building, which for five decades has served as a focal point for so many artists. We hear some of the voices of people who are associated with the Art Colony—including artists, students, and instructors.

“Doing Art on the Corner of 3rd Avenue West and 2nd Street: Recollections of 50 years in the Grand Marais Art Colony Studio”, History Speaks, only on WTIP North Shore Community Radio!


A crowd gathers in front of the U.S. Forest Service office in Grand Marais in April 1978 (Cook County Historical Society)

History Speaks: The Boundary Waters

Finalcut_Hist Spks_BWCAWAct_20130508.mp324.64 MB

Today, more than 200,000 people visit the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness each year. This unique natural area is widely appreciated, but for decades the Boundary Waters was the source of a contentious debate. In the years before the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act passed in 1978, tensions decades in the making finally boiled over. In this edition of WTIP North Shore Community Radio’s historical series “History Speaks,” producer Ada Igoe presents the voices of the 1970s Boundary Waters Canoe Area debate in Cook County.

Additional Resources:
Boundary Waters timelines (natural history and wilderness management versions)
Complete 1964 Wilderness Act
Complete 1978 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act
Chronology of BWCAW actions as related to the Minnesota government
BWCAW page from MN 150 Wiki

Boundary Waters timeline
U.S. Forest Service Boundary Waters page


Laura and her pet moose (Cook County Historical Society)

History Speaks: Laura Alice Hogeboom Harriman

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Laura Alice Hogeboom Harriman was a true pioneer; a woman in the wilderness. Hard and exhausting as life was for early settlers in Hovland, Minnesota, Laura thrived. Beloved by her family and her community, Laura was a true caretaker. In her time she delivered more than 50 babies, cared for the sick, worked at the school, was active in church, and was mother to a family of five daughters. In this edition of WTIP North Shore Community Radio’s historical series “History Speaks,” producer Barbara Jean Meyers shares Laura’s incredible story.


Dakota War (Courtesy of Minnesota History Center)

A Clash of Cultures: Understanding the Dakota War of 1862

a-clash-of-cultures-1862-part-1_broadcast.mp327.43 MB
a-clash-of-cultures-1862-part-2_broadcast.mp326.96 MB

On August 17, 1862 a group of four young Dakota men on a hunting expedition killed five settlers who lived along the Minnesota river in what is now southwest Minnesota...and a war began. This week marks the 50th anniversary of this historical conflict.  "A Clash of Cultures: Understanding the Dakota War of 1862" is a production of ampers-Diverse Radio for Minnesota Communities.


The restored Edisen Fishery on Isle Royale

History Speaks: Isle Royale National Park

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In this extended edition of History Speaks, we take a closer look at the creation of Isle Royale National Park and its effect on the people and culture of the island.

This documentary was narrated by Carah Thomas, with Lake Superior sounds by Peter Elvin and music by The Pines and Blind Pilot.

Photo courtesy of Joe Ross via Flickr.


Earl and Ethel Leng inside Leng's Fountain

History Speaks: Recollections of Leng’s Fountain

Finalcut_Lengs_20110817.mp362.69 MB

Leng’s Fountain was a cornerstone of the community for many years. It was a true old fashioned soda fountain. You could order phosphates, ice-cream or stop in for coffee and a paper. It was a place that brought people together. A place you could linger and mingle. Hear the story of Leng’s as told by former employees and members of the Leng family.

The trestle bridge on Gunflint Lake at the narrows

History Speaks: Rails, Mines, Madams, and Crooks

Finalcut_RailsMinesMadamsCrooks_20100914.mp324.43 MB

Did you know there was a rail line from Thunder Bay that traveled across the country’s border and went to a mine near the end of the Gunflint Trail? Listen as WTIP uncovers the story “Rails, Mines, Madams, and Crooks” as part of our ongoing History Speaks series. It’s a real life tale full of intrigue, mystery and wonder. Learn about the famous Madam Mag Matthews and her house of ill-repute located near Gunflint Lake, the Italian laborers that endured many hardships to build the rail line, and the crooked businessmen who secured funding for the project in some questionable ways. We’ll also take a look at the new Centennial Trail recently completed by the USFS  that helps preserve this important story.