A trip down the storied history of the Gunflint Trail

Ron HustvedtCross it off the list of “Places I drive by that I’d like to visit,” but keep it on the list of “Not enough time to do it justice: Must return soon.”

Located at the end of the Gunflint Trail, just a few paddles away from the Canadian border, the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center is a magnificently interesting place to visit. That’s especially true if you love the Gunflint Trail, the BWCA or the storied history of the people who have traversed the area over the past four centuries.

It is not a massive museum, but it does take some time to do it justice. My wife, two young children and I spent a very fast two hours there last week and are eager to return.

The museum covers the entire history of the area over four centuries but really focuses on the most recent 100 years. This is when the Gunflint Trail was made, expanded, and made famous. Stories of so many people along the trail are what we found the most interesting.

Those stories include entrepreneurs who started resorts, outfitter posts and other businesses along the trail over the years. It was especially interesting to read about our Gunflint Trail friends Dave and Nancy Seaton who run Hungry Jack Outfitters. To run a business in such a rugged area is one thing, but to raise a family in the midst of it all, not to mention thriving in other ways is an accomplishment few can achieve.

The history of the trail is very dynamic, even to this day, with numerous artifacts and accounts from events like the Ham Lake Fire and the Blowdown. I get the impression that the Chik-Wauk Museum is a “living museum” and will continue to expand its collections and update displays as the Gunflint changes.

Both of my kids, a 4-year-old and 2-year-old, were entranced by the place with numerous animal mounts, interactive displays and tons of children’s books. They even liked the 20-minute video on the Voyageurs produced by the Canadian Film Board back in 1964.

Complete details can be found online at www.chikwauk.com as well as on Twitter (@chikwaukmuseum) and Facebook.

In addition to all the displays inside, there are 50-acres worth of nature trails. Next time we’re in the area, we plan on stopping by for more of what Chik-Wauk has to offer both inside and outside.

Categories: Ron Hustvedt

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