Sax-Zim Bog is one of the top birdwatching areas in the Midwest, and attracts birdwatchers from around the world, especially in the winter, when such owl species as great gray owl, northern hawk-owl, and snowy owl can sometimes be easily found.
Named after two old towns located in the vicinity, Sax and Zim, the 200-square-mile (518-square-kilometer) area contains a mix of spruce, tamarack, and northern white cedar bogs. Additionally, lowland hardwood trees such as black ash, leatherleaf, and bog birch are common. There are also isolated sedge meadows and hayfields among the stands of trees.
Bog plants, rare elsewhere, are common in Sax-Zim Bog and include the carnivorous sundew and pitcher plants, and lady's slipper orchids.
Sax-Zim Bog is accessible by various county and township roads. Some of the land is privately owned, and some is owned by the state. There are also three federal Wildlife Management Areas in the bog. Visitors who wish to explore the bog should take care not to trespass on private land.
At the base of the Lower Falls on the Brule River you will see a long flight of stairsteps ascending and a small wooden sign which reads: "Devil's Kettle, 700 Yards." Although we had just come down a long series of steps to reach this point, we continued onward. In all there are more than 180 stairsteps along the way, so be forewarned.
Just as we were reaching the top of the steep wooden incline we met a man coming down. He told us he had been there for the past three hours, alone - transfixed. "It's awesome!" he exclaimed, "Just like something you'd expect to see out west in the Rockies." We took one look over the ledge, and agreed with him.
Here in a deep canyon the river splits around a mass of volcanic rock, then plunges 50 feet into a huge pothole, creating a seething, churning caldron. The sound is thunderous; the sight is breathtaking. The hike to reach this point is more than worth the effort.
This was the spot we ended our canoe trip at in 1993. We had a couple of leaders so I don't remember every lake we hit unfortunately, but the jest was Moose Lake to Mudro. After 4 days of the camping food, we all headed straight in for the soda and junk. If we hadn't been teenagers, I'm sure the ice cold beer would have been the drink of choice. :)
We visited this Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary one day in August of 1998. You drive along a long dirt/gravel road to where there are some observation decks.
These bears really are wild and there have been attacks in the past, but generally, they seemed well-behaved. They feed them and I guess that's how they know to gather there during parts of the year. It is kind of intimidating getting from your car to the deck and back as they are just wandering around and there are a few volunteers walking around with big walking sticks to try to keep them away from the visitors.
You can find a few more photos on my travelogue which includes this same info.
Two Harbors Lighthouse, overlooking Lake Superior, was built in 1892, to guide iron-ore freighters and other vessels to the busy loading docks nearby. It is the oldest operating light station on Minnesota's North Shore. The Coast Guard automated the station in 1981, and later turned it over to the Lake County Historical Society which operates a museum and a bed and breakfast in the building.
To reach Two Harbors Lighthouse take Highway 61 about 20 miles northeast of Duluth. At Two Harbors turn toward the lake on First Street, then right on First Avenue and left onto Third Street. A parking area at the end of Third Street provides access to the lighthouse. Unfortunately we arrived here after 5 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon and found the place closed for the day, but we were able to walk around the outside and take pictures.
Lake Itasca, a small glacial lake with a surface area of 1.8 square miles, is the centerpiece of Lake Itasca State Park. From this beautiful serene northwoods lake, 1,475 feet above sea level, the Mighty Mississippi River begins to flow on its winding way, 2,552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. At the spot where the river flows from the lake one can walk across the stream (very carefully) on stepping stones, as seen in the picture.
Itasca was established in 1891, as Minnesota's first state park. Within its 32,000 acres are more than 100 smaller lakes. The park also provides a multitude oh other recreational opportunities: camping, fishing, hiking, etc. But to us none of them could compare to stepping across North America's grandest river.
Itasca is in southwestern Clearwater County in Northern Minnesota. It is 30 miles southwest of Bemidji.
When we first saw the sign pointing to the Judge C. R. Magney State Park we thought, "What a dreadfully dull name for a park." But later we learned that the good Judge Magney, (1883-1962) Mayor of Duluth, District Judge, Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, was an avid outdoorsman, instrumental in creating this park and numerous others in Northern Minnesota. So I suppose he's due some recognition. The park, 14 miles north of Grand Maris, on U.S. Hwy. 61, is in the extreme northeastern corner of the state. It is certainly more exciting than its name.
We stopped here for a mid-morning two mile hike along the very scenic Brule River, to see the waterfalls, and boiling rapids which have carved unusual designs in the hard lava rock.
We sighted the first very impressive falls (pictured) from a high bluff, several minutes before the trail led us to the base of the cascade. Imagine our surprise when we arrived and, with cool spray baptizing us, learned that this was not even the major attraction. Our following tip will tell about our next stop up the trail - Devil's Kettle.
When we were touring Minnesota's North Shore we made a lunch stop in Grand Marias.Here we saw the diminutive Grand Marias Light. This four-legged steel structure, thirty-five feet above Lake Superior, marks the end of Grand Marias' primary breakwater. It warns mariners away from the low breakwater while guiding vessels into the town's harobr. This operating light was built in 1922, and replaced a larger tower that had stood on the shore since 1885. The light has a classic lens which can be seen from up to sixteen miles away.
Grand Marias is in the extreme northeastern corner of Minnesota, along Hwy. # 61.
This is one of those captivating little out-of-the-way places that we stumbled upon while en-route to somewhere else. Serendipity! It's the stuff that makes for great travel memories.
Camp Release was the name given to a military camp on the Minnesota prairie at the end of the US-Dakota conflict in 1862. While the American Civil War was raging, mostly back east, the United States was also at war here in another conflict with the Dakota Indians. Colonel Henry H. Sibley established a military camp on the banks of the Minnesota River, in an effort to subdue the Dakota uprising led by warrior Little Crow. As the conflict moved into its final weeks, attention focused on 269 captives, 107 whites and 162 of mixed blood being held by the Indians.
On Sep. 26, 1862, 241 of the captives were released, and 1,200 Dakota people surrendered. The remaining 28 captives were set free within the next few days. From that time the military camp was joyfully called "Camp Release."
This 51-foot granite moonument was errected in 1894, to commemorate the event. It is in southwestern Minnesota, just west of the small town of Montevideo, on U.S. 212.
This is America. Pumpkins growing fat and plump in anticipation of Halloween. Every kid loves a pumpkin patch--especially Linus from the cartoon series "Peanuts". The cartoonist Charles Schultz was born and raised in St. Paul. I suspect he had firsthand knowledge of Minnesota's pumpkin patches. Like Linus, I have yet to see the Great Pumpkin arise from the pumkin patch on Halloween night, but I'll keep a vigilant watch just in case.
Minneapolis has a twin city - St. Paul. There are some great restaurants over the river...all price ranges. The St. Paul Grill is a bit pricey, but one can get the best milkshakes in the world in that town - and real, old-fashioned breakfasts.
Garrison Keillor is well known to many radio fans. He appears live on the Prairie Home Companion..broadcast from a beautiful old opera house in downtown St. Paul.
Minnesota has always had wolfpacks patrolling its northern forests. A few decades ago the wolves were all but wiped out from the lower 48 states. Minnesota was the lone exception with its sparsely populated northern forests. Minnesota does not have free range livestock, so there was not the same type of wolf bounty hunting as plagued the western states.
Of course, wolves have now been reintroduced in many states and the Minnesota wolves are also doing better. However, to this day, there are many who see the wolf as a threat. Do you know that there are no confirmed reports of wolves attacking people in Minnesota.
One day I will get a clear photo of a wolf and post it here.
Visit www.wolf.org to learn about wolves and explore the possibility of a wolf centered eco-vacation.
The settlers of this state most often built their rural churches on the highest hilltop in the region. I'm not sure if it was an attempt to get closer to God or whether the Norskes not being all that good with directions, simply set their church on the highest hill so it would always be in sight and easy to find.
This photo is of the Vasa Lutheran Church in Vasa, Minnesota.
Pickwick Mill is in southeastern Minnesota in the tiny village of Pickwick, about 15 minutes south of Winona. It can be found by following the signs off Highways 14 & 61, for about two miles on County Road 7.
The operating stone mill is situated beside the very picturesque Lake LaBelle which offers trout fishing and a picnic site. For a small fee you can tour the mill where you will find 6 floors of original machinery, a 4' by 20' waterwheel, and operating millstones. There is also a gift shop.
Just below the mill is a small waterfall which is worth seeing while you are there.
Open weekends in May, Sept. and Oct.
Open Tues. thru Sat. in June, July, Aug.
Daily 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Route 4, Box 219
Winona, MN 55987
65 families in the area got together and built this memorial chapel at the Spring Creek Norwegian Lutheran Cemetery founded in 1906.
The granit marker's inscription says:
"For He is our peace..." Eph 2:14
This Memorial Chapel is dedicated to the memory of all the loved ones who have gone before us, to honor the pioneers who struggled to settle the land, a salute to the Veterens who served to protect it. Peace.