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North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

News & Information

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:

George Washington Pines - Field Trip with Gunflint Ranger

Gunflint District Ranger, Michael Crotteau will lead a "Field Day with the Public" to George Washington Pines to discuss what the Kimball Vegetation Management Project will mean to the area.
WTIP's CJ Heithoff talks with Michael on North Shore Morning.

Links to the Kimball Vegetation Project (called the Kimball AGOL) and an interactive map of the project area are below.


The Liberty in the Grand Marais Harbor, with lighthouse in the background

Historic Cook County: Shipwrecks in the Grand Marais Harbor?

Lake Superior is well known as a graveyard for many shipwrecks, but some people might be surprised to learn that at least two ships have the Grand Marais Harbor as their final resting place. Producer Martha Marnocha finds out more from diver and local shipwreck historian, Stephen Daniel.

This feature was produced by the Cook County Historical Society in collaboration with WTIP and the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
(Photo of the schooner Elgin courtesy of Great Lakes Marine Collection, Milwaukee Public Library/Wisconsin Marine Historical Society; photo of the steamer Liberty courtesy of the C. Patrick Labadie Collection, Superior, Wisconsin)


Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Superior Reviews by Lin Salisbury - Michael Ondaatje's "Warlight"

Superior Reviews by Lin Salisbury
Lin reviews Michael Ondaatje's book "Warlight" in this feature.



Superior National Forest Update - December 14, 2018

Superior National Forest Update - December 14, 2018

Hi, this is Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update.

At the moment, we’ve had a week of temperatures around the freezing mark and some lovely freezing drizzle and clouds.  That kind of weather has really cut into our snow cover and changed our thinking from checking that we have gas for the snowblower to crossing our fingers that there will be a white Christmas.  This is northern Minnesota, where we brag to our friends that we survive and enjoy being outdoors when it is twenty below – we shouldn’t have to be worrying about whether there should be snow for Christmas.  We should be worrying about whether we can shovel the driveway out in order to get to work – so we should all be thinking snow!

With snow cover dwindling, we need to remind snowmobilers that there need to be at least 4 inches of snow on the ground for cross country travel.  It also can be difficult to tell which roads are plowed and which are not.  As a general rule, snowmobiles are not allowed on plowed roads but are welcome to use roads which are not plowed in the winter.  Be careful because the low snow cover may result in cars and trucks using what is normally an unplowed road.  If you are driving a car or truck, beware.  What appears to be a clear road at the beginning may be full of snow at the other end – you may be better off sticking to the plowed roads.  Low snow cover is tempting people to extend the ATV season.  If you are going out on an ATV, be sure to have one of our motor vehicle use maps, available online and free at our offices.  The map will tell you where it is legal to operate your ATV, including seasonal designations for some routes.  The map is also available as a georeferenced PDF file you can use with the Avenza app on your phone.  You don’t need to be online once you’ve downloaded the map, and the app will give you your exact location on the map as you travel.  Or when you’ve stopped – don’t stare at your phone while driving!

Our ATV trail partners have helped make some routes clearer by putting up small reddish brown signs on designated ATV routes.  Unfortunately, some of these signs were removed by vandals, a senseless act which only adds to the confusion over vehicle use.  Remember when you are planning your trip that these and other signs on the ground are only guidance – the motor vehicle use map is the final word on what use is allowed where.

Watch for logging trucks on the Dumbbell River Road, the Wanless Road, Perent Lake Road, The Grade, Ball Club Road, North Devil Track Road, Carlton Pit Road, and the Schroeder-Tote Road.  On the Gunflint District, log trucks will be hauling on the Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, South Brule Road, Lima Grade, Otter Trail, and the Caribou Trail.  The Schroeder-Tote, Firebox, South Brule, and Lima Grade roads are all shared with snowmobile trails, so be cautious in those areas.  Watch for posted signs showing when the dual designation stops and snowmobiles aren’t allowed further. 

As we hopefully get more snow, winter recreation will become more fun.  If you are looking for conditions of ski trails or snowmobile trails, our website provides links to our trail partners who groom the trails or, in the case of snowmobiles, the Minnesota DNR website which keeps a table of trail conditions. 

We’re getting to the last minute for holiday greenery!  If you still don’t have a tree, you can purchase a permit at one of our offices to harvest your own.  Make sure you follow the rules on where and what you can harvest.  If you have a fourth grader in the family, they can join the Every Kid In A Park program and qualify for a free tree permit.  That program will also give you free admittance to national parks and forests across the country.  One of our neighbors with a fourth grader completed a family tour of all the famous western national parks this summer.  The fourth grader was proud that she was able to get her family into all those parks for free or reduced admission.

The Superior National Forest wants to wish all of you a happy holiday season, and here’s hoping for more of that white stuff! 

Until next time, this has been Renee Frahm with this week’s National Forest Update.


Pine Marten

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - December 14, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith    December 14, 2018    
Since our last WTIP gathering, Gunflint country has experience days of calm and peace. These Halcyon segments have found this territory in partial winter mode, absent one half of our winter character.                                                                                                                                                           
The upper Trail endured a good dose of cold for several days, but we’ve been devoid of snow. Don’t take me wrong, we have snow however barely a few flurries have been added.                   
To expand upon the cold feature of our atmospheric goings-on, some nights of well below zero in this neighborhood prompted real ice making on the Gunflint. After a sputtering try at freezing a week ago, she got right after it on the night/morning of December 6 & 7.                       
There was no messing around this time. By morning on the 7th, I could see from the house water was still by the shore, but had no idea hard water would consume the entire surface in just a few hours.                                                                                                                                                                                 

This “ice on” date is somewhat early as the average over the time we’ve lived here is nearer mid-month. My records go as far back as 1982 and the earliest freeze of Gunflint Lake since then was on November 26, 1996. So 2018 is some two weeks off any contemporary record.                                                                                                                                                                                          

By the way, a Gunflint Lake cousin, Seagull Lake froze on November 20th according to folks along those shores. It is funny how conditions and locale can vary so much in just ten or twelve miles.                                                                                                                                                                                      

The next night was about equally as cold around here, and the “old gal” uttered her first commentary of the season. It was a screech like always, but one has no way of knowing whether her outcry was in delight of a new coat or pain from an ill fit. Whatever the case, we can now start building depth for those ice anglers come January.                                                                                 

A day in the winter woods seems never to be without an animal adventure of some sort. A few days ago the Smith’s spotted one of our many “Pineys” (martens that is) bounding over the snow toward our place. We watched it making its way up on to our deck, and heading for the snack shack.                                                                                                                                                                      

As it was about to stick its head in the little box for a treasure, something up in the trees was spotted, spooking the furry critter. Checking skyward carefully for a few moments, one could see the martens’ “wheels a turning” when a decision was made to grab a bite and make a run for it. While grabbing the poultry part, another alarm from above startled the furry one. This caused a Nano-second memory lapse where it let go of its treat.                                                                                                                                                                                       

The first of two oddities popped right before our eyes. The morsel of fowl dropped barely centimeters from the jaws, and quick as lightning, the critter caught it, mid-air, mind you. Oh, it was so nimble and quick.                                                                                                                                                                              

In awe, wonder number two captured us. In a flash, Mr. Marten shot across the deck, took a leap to a nearby tree and literally flew down to the ground at what looked to be supersonic speed. On the ground, it screamed over the crusty snow into a brushy thicket and out of view.                                                                                                                                                                                         

This riveting scene then took on another twist. During this ground level sprint, we observed a flight of blue jays zooming not far above the martens’ pathway to cover, and they too were soon lost from view.                                                                                                                                                 
One can only surmise these jaybirds were the one’s kindling the marten’s first treetop alert. After all, how did it know this was not a hungry eagle or a craving owl overhead.                                                      

Thereon, thinking about all this commotion, I assumed the blues’ were following “Piney” in case this ration of fast food was dropped, whereby they might get a crack at it. They are pretty cagey about laying claim to possessions of others, the big bullies.                                                                                   

With exception of disappearing into the woods, this chapter of our natural world novel knows no end. The beat goes on, predator/prey, survival of the fittest, fastest and craftiest!                                                                          

For WTIP, this Wildersmith on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with a shout out for let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!   



Great Expectations School News - December 14, 2018

Great Expectations - School News with Addie and Emma.
December 14, 2018



Sawtooth Mountain Elementary - School News - December 13, 2018

Sawtooth Mountain Elementary - School News with Vanessa and Alex
December 13, 2018


Birch Grove in the West End

Small Town Lip Synch Challenge hits West End

In October 2018, a group of creative Cook County residents decided to launch a “Small Town Lip Sync Challenge,” similar to those produced by police departments across the United States. Instead of just the sheriff's office, the video hoped to bring in the whole city of Grand Marais. 

Headed up by Jaye White, over 100 Grand Marais community members joined forces to dance around the city, lip synching to the song Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. To see the Grand Marais Lip Synch Challenge, click here. 

As hoped, the video scored thousands of clicks on Facebook and views on YouTube.

But organizers didn’t stop there. At the end of the Grand Marais video, they issued a challenge to the townships on the west end of the county—Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder.

The West End of the county took up the challenge and created its own Small Town Lip Synch Challenge set to the song West End Kids by New Politics. Again, the community came together, with members of the West End fire departments, local businesses, the Birch Grove Community School and more, singing and dancing along. To see the West End Lip Synch Challenge, click here. 

WTIP’s Jane Alexander checked in with Jaye White, the mastermind of the Small Town Lip Synch Challenge to learn more about the West End video and about what might be ahead.



It's Christmas Bird Count time!

The 2018 Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count will be held on Saturday, December 15, with some birds being counted during "count week" -- three days before and three days after the actual count date. Both feeder watchers and walking/driving birders are once again needed for this year's count.

When the counting day work is complete, participants will gather at Voyageur Brewing Company to compile results. For more information, contact organizer Jeremy Ridlbauer at 218-370-0733 or email 

There is a decades old Christmas Bird Count in Cook County, as well as across the state. The first known Minnesota Christmas Bird Counts were conducted on Christmas Day 1905 in Minneapolis and Red Wing. During those last 109 years, the Christmas Bird Count has been conducted uninterrupted in the state and has grown to include almost 70 census circles and involved more than 28,000 participants. Each year more than 1,000 participants canvass the state to conduct the survey.

How does someone become a counter? WTIP volunteer talks to local Bird Count organizer Jeremy Ridlbauer to learn just that. 



Great Expectations School News - December 7, 2018

Great Expectations School News - with Grace and Spencer.
December 7, 2018