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      Have any forum members been going to the BWCA since the '40s or '50s?     
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Canoearoo
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06/17/2018 08:01PM
Have any forum members been going to the BWCA since the 1940s or 1950s? Or earlier? I was thinking today there are quite a few 'seasoned' members on BWCA.com and maybe someone has been going since then. If so, can you compare your trip in the '40s to today?
 
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Savage Voyageur
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06/17/2018 11:25PM
Not even close for me, 1979 was the first trip I went on.

I’m thinking canvas canoes, canvas open tents with wood poles you had to cut, army cots, army surplus wool blankets to sleep with, cast iron fry pans, cans of beans and can beer. Maybe by the 1950s you would be in a zippered canvas tent, just don’t poke the tent when it’s raining outside, because it will leak. All fresh food was cooked on the fire, percolating coffee pots, bacon, eggs, pancakes. Axes the size that would make Paul Bunyan proud. Having the lakes all to yourself, huge Walleye and Pike. Those must have been some fun trips back then.
Canoearoo
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06/17/2018 11:42PM
My mom grew up on a farm dirt poor in the 1940/50 with no electricity or running water in northern MN . The stories she tells are amazing and it had me wondering about the BWCA around the same time.
andym
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06/18/2018 12:40AM
Try reading a copy of Dorothy Molter’s biography The Root Beer Lady .

Things were definitely rougher in many ways but there were also established resorts with buildings. And no motor restrictions. But you had to portage motors!
The Great Outdoors
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06/18/2018 05:03AM
Canoearoo: "Has any forum members been going to the BWCA since the 1940s or 1950s? Or earlier? I was thinking today there are quite a few 'seasoned' members on bwca.com and maybe someone has been going since then? If so, can you compair your trip in the 40's to today? "
There was no "BWCAW" in the 40's or 50's, it was created by the "Wilderness Act of 1964"
Earlier than that, the area known as the BWCAW today had cabins, resorts, and logging camps scattered throughout.
06/18/2018 06:10AM
My dad did a couple trips around '51. His buddy and him we're so close our families got together more than close relatives it seemed. One of his boys came on some of my earlier trips with me. We stopped at Dorothy's on a chilly rainy morning and told her our dads had been there way back then. She pulled out her little log book or whatever and found their names and what they'd bought that day. Thought that was cool...
missmolly
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06/18/2018 06:25AM
Given the number of posters at bwca.com who are 118 years old (birth dates of 1900), I'm assuming many visited the area in the 1940s. Probably the 1920s too. Maybe even the teens!
brantlars
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06/18/2018 06:27AM
My neighbor used to go up there in the 50's. He is 84. He told me they took a flat bottom boat with an airplane motor over the ice to Dorothy's cabin on Knife. The first thing they did was drain the oil from the engine and take it inside so it would start in the morning. He has lots of good stories like that. Its really fun to hear them and look at the old maps.
billconner
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06/18/2018 06:41AM
Read "A Guides Tale" by Gerald R. Patterson.
Canoearoo
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06/18/2018 08:51AM
I've read some of the books, there is something cool about hearing stories that aren't published.

"Given the number of posters at bwca.com who are 118 years old (birth dates of 1900), I'm assuming many visited the area in the 1940s. Probably the 1920s too. Maybe even the teens"

Hahaha! I thought of this too!
nofish
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06/18/2018 10:12AM
Anyone that went as kids in the 1940's and 50' would be in their 70s and 80s now. Not sure how many 80 year old users we have here.
Canoearoo
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06/18/2018 10:13AM
The Great Outdoors: There was no "BWCAW" in the 40's or 50's, it was created by the "Wilderness Act of 1964"
"


Yes I know that. I should have phrased it.. in the area that is now the BWCA but before it was the BWCA.
Canoearoo
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06/18/2018 10:15AM
nofish: "Anyone that went as kids in the 1940's and 50' would be in their 70s and 80s now. Not sure how many 80 year old users we have here. "
I know, but on another website there used to be people of that age bracket who still shared their wisdom. They couldn't go to the BW anymore but they could still surf the net and share stories. But that was well over 10 years ago now. I was hoping for some stories before the stories are lost.

My mother and grandmother were once out picking berries in the woods near their farm because there was nothing else to eat at the time. They were picking all day when a black bear who was also picking looked up right next to them. My grandmother screamed and hit the bear on the nose with her basket and the bear stood, then turned around and took off.
Canoearoo
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06/18/2018 10:21AM
Thanks to who ever fixed the title of my post.. my phone wouldn't let me make it that long.
Canoearoo
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06/18/2018 10:21AM
brantlars: "My neighbor used to go up there in the 50's. He is 84. He told me they took a flat bottom boat with an airplane motor over the ice to Dorothy's cabin on Knife. The first thing they did was drain the oil from the engine and take it inside so it would start in the morning. He has lots of good stories like that. Its really fun to hear them and look at the old maps."

This is what I'm talking about.. that is so cool
jcavenagh
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06/18/2018 11:00AM
I was under the impression that the general area has been known as the "boundary waters" or the "boundary lakes" for a long time. I understand it hasn't been the BWCA for all that long, but the term boundary waters has been used as it indicates that the lakes run along the US/Canadian boundary.
Have I been wrong all these years?
Pinetree
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06/18/2018 11:13AM
Anybody on board who traveled even mid 50's is getting up there. Time flies. I started about 1968.
OtherBob
member (41)member
 
06/18/2018 12:02PM
A canoe partner went up to the Q every year as a youngster in the early 50s. He, Mom, Dad, and a couple of sibs would stay about 3 weeks on the same island campsite as in previous years. They had a stash in the woods of fire grates, tent poles, and an 18 inch wash machine lid used as a griddle. The stuff might still be up there, he said, but he can't remember which lake.

They would motor in with a 2 hp kicker until half the gas was gone. Then they cached the motor and fuel tank, and paddled the rest of the way.

Mom would bake bread, biscuits, and pies in a reflector oven. Dad and the kids would fish, swim, gather berries, and cut firewood. He remembers a ton of tales about this annual adventure, everything except which lake it was on.
riverrunner
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06/18/2018 12:12PM
Pinetree: "Anybody on board who traveled even mid 50's is getting up there. Time flies. I started about 1968."

My first trip was in 68 also
The Great Outdoors
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06/18/2018 12:13PM
jcavenagh: "I was under the impression that the general area has been known as the "boundary waters" or the "boundary lakes" for a long time. I understand it hasn't been the BWCA for all that long, but the term boundary waters has been used as it indicates that the lakes run along the US/Canadian boundary.
Have I been wrong all these years?"

They previously referred to it as the "Roadless Area" in many of the old brochures.
Carver
Guest Paddler
 
06/18/2018 12:28PM
I first went into the B-dub in the mid fifties. Canvas and army surplus sleeping bags on the ground. You would cut out both ends of empty tin cans, flatten them and place them in the fire, then the next day, drop them in the middle of the lake. You were required to leave camp wood for the next campers for you did not want to be regarded as a Cheechaco. Left the BWCA for good after two friends were forced out in the seventies plus I don't care for all the regulations and permits. There is no shortage of great camping just out side of the wilderness area. I have been back four times, three on fires, one on the 1999 blow down for two weeks and every time with a chainsaw.
Canoearoo
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06/18/2018 12:43PM
OtherBob: "A canoe partner went up to the Q every year as a youngster in the early 50s. He, Mom, Dad, and a couple of sibs would stay about 3 weeks on the same island campsite as in previous years. They had a stash in the woods of fire grates, tent poles, and an 18 inch wash machine lid used as a griddle. The stuff might still be up there, he said, but he can't remember which lake.


They would motor in with a 2 hp kicker until half the gas was gone. Then they cached the motor and fuel tank, and paddled the rest of the way.


Mom would bake bread, biscuits, and pies in a reflector oven. Dad and the kids would fish, swim, gather berries, and cut firewood. He remembers a ton of tales about this annual adventure, everything except which lake it was on. "


So cool! Thanks OtherBob
bruleman
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06/18/2018 01:00PM
Canoearoo: "Have any forum members been going to the BWCA since the 1940s or 1950s? Or earlier? I was thinking today there are quite a few 'seasoned' members on BWCA.com and maybe someone has been going since then. If so, can you compare your trip in the '40s to today? "

My dad and I began going to Brule Lake in 1957. There were flying restrictions at that time, because the owner of the Brule Island Camp had to moor his airplane across the lake from the camp. It looks to me like it was officially designated the BWCA in 1958. The restrictions became effective in 1964 with the Wilderness Act.

The built up roads were under construction during those early times. Travelling was difficult in an ordinary passenger car. It took two hours to travel the last 7 miles off the Sawbill Trail to Brule, through beaver ponds and over the boulders, on this old logging road. Even the weather was different than today. I recall seeing piles of snow back in the forest in early June. You could count on at least , a brief shower almost every day. We regularly caught our limit of walleyes in the evening on Echo or Cone Bay.

We camped on Brule in early June, after 1964 and saw only one other person the entire week, he was a commercial fisherman. Grand Marais was occupied by a few other visiting fisherman. The highway from Duluth ran along the Lakeshore and was sparsely travelled, in comparison to today. Prices for almost everything were much more reasonable. You could hardly refer to it as a tourist area, but do recall that seniors would travel there and stay along the Lakeshore during the Fall.

Does anyone recall Lee's Boat Landing. I believe that Cascade Lake was his business location and he stored boats throughout the area. You filled out a form and put your payment in envelope dropped in a locked box. I don't recall any thefts or vandalism back in that day. If the authorities were informed of any, they would have caught you before getting back to the Superior Lakeshore.

We drank cone top beers and ate with the camp manager and his wife. The Brule Island Camp was a very unique place. The supplies were hauled in on a pontoon. They smoked the northern pike and heated the cabins with drum barrel wood burners. Eventually, there was a camp sauna and you could exit there and dive right into the lake.

There were just the two camps on the Lake, the other was owned by the Ruan Trucking company, located directly south of Cone Bay, in the main body of the Lake. Both camps were lost in the 1964 Wilderness Act.

I have many fond memories of vacationing in the BWCA, over sixty years and would return today, without hesitation.
Canoearoo
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06/18/2018 02:28PM
Wonderful bruleman . That's a great story, thank you for sharing.

Thanks Carver. My dad has some interesting stories on how old cars were taken care of in the 50's on the farm. Times were sure different back then.
jdevries
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06/18/2018 02:28PM
riverrunner: "Pinetree: "Anybody on board who traveled even mid 50's is getting up there. Time flies. I started about 1968."
My first trip was in 68 also"

...and mine. I was all of 3 or 4 years old at the time.

JD
campcrafter
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06/18/2018 02:52PM
These 1942 Guide Notes from Region X Canoe Base ( Charles Sommers ) give a little insight to tripping in the Quetico-Superior back then.

Hod Ludlow 1942 Guide Notes

Blue Skies!
cc
thebotanyguy
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06/18/2018 03:04PM
I have not, but my father-in-law and mother-in-law were guides at Camp Widjiwagan in the 1950's. There is a youtube video from back then, and you can see my father-in-law from time to time - he is the bearded young man with an orange hat.

Youtube link
Canoearoo
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06/18/2018 03:43PM
Thank you campcrafter and thebotanyguy I will look into both of these
Podunk
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06/18/2018 04:22PM
campcrafter: "These 1942 Guide Notes from Region X Canoe Base ( Charles Sommers ) give a little insight to tripping in the Quetico-Superior back then.


Hod Ludlow 1942 Guide Notes

Blue Skies!
cc"

Interesting and a good read.
prettypaddle
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06/19/2018 05:49AM
In the 1920s my husband’s grandfather worked as a guide for Wilderness Outfitters. All I remember at the moment was that he was pals with Sig Olson, in the winter time he ran booze in from Canada during prohibition, and he and his wife honeymooned in what’s now the BW.

He worked in the mine for one day and never went back. Went to college, became a professor, and would spend every summer with his family back in Ely. Consequently, my father-in-law didn’t grow up in Ely, but spent a great deal of time there. I’ve seen pictures from the 40s and 50s of them fishing or hanging out at the lake (my father-in-law’s aunt bought some land on White Iron in the 40s, built a cabin, and lived there during the summer when she wasn’t teaching at the elementary school in Ely).

That property is still in the family and my in-laws still spend their summers on the lake. We’re headed up to visit in a couple of weeks so I’ll have to ask for some more stories about back in the day.
missmolly
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06/19/2018 06:03AM
prettypaddle: "In the 1920s my husband’s grandfather worked as a guide for Wilderness Outfitters. All I remember at the moment was that he was pals with Sig Olson, in the winter time he ran booze in from Canada during prohibition, and he and his wife honeymooned in what’s now the BW.


He worked in the mine for one day and never went back. Went to college, became a professor, and would spend every summer with his family back in Ely. Consequently, my father-in-law didn’t grow up in Ely, but spent a great deal of time there. I’ve seen pictures from the 40s and 50s of them fishing or hanging out at the lake (my father-in-law’s aunt bought some land on White Iron in the 40s, built a cabin, and lived there during the summer when she wasn’t teaching at the elementary school in Ely).


That property is still in the family and my in-laws still spend their summers on the lake. We’re headed up to visit in a couple of weeks so I’ll have to ask for some more stories about back in the day.
"


Man, you've got serious history up there!
Canoearoo
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06/19/2018 08:45AM
prettypaddle: "That property is still in the family and my in-laws still spend their summers on the lake. We’re headed up to visit in a couple of weeks so I’ll have to ask for some more stories about back in the day.
"

Yes please ask. These stories Need to be heard. My grandfather wrote a family book before he died. It's a treasure. My great grandmother told stories of crossing the Prairie as a little girl riding in a covered wagon. What a strong generation.
prettypaddle
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06/19/2018 02:01PM
Canoearoo: "prettypaddle: "That property is still in the family and my in-laws still spend their summers on the lake. We’re headed up to visit in a couple of weeks so I’ll have to ask for some more stories about back in the day.
"

Yes please ask. These stories Need to be heard. My grandfather wrote a family book before he died. It's a treasure. My great grandmother told stories of crossing the Prairie as a little girl riding in a covered wagon. What a strong generation. "


That is a treasure!
campcrafter
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06/21/2018 10:35AM
There is also this 1950 film from Sommers Explorer Canoe Base
A Canoe Expedition, Explorer Scout Trail Skills Series


Plus these two from Sommers circa 1969 and 1981

Les Voyageurs

By Pack and Paddle

Blue Skies!
cc
Dances with Sheep
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06/21/2018 12:28PM
nofish: "Anyone that went as kids in the 1940's and 50' would be in their 70s and 80s now. Not sure how many 80 year old users we have here. "

Canoearoo
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06/23/2018 08:36PM
thebotanyguy: "I have not, but my father-in-law and mother-in-law were guides at Camp Widjiwagan in the 1950's. There is a youtube video from back then, and you can see my father-in-law from time to time - he is the bearded young man with an orange hat.


Youtube link "

Oh my gosh, I had no idea that the Y was once a Christian organization. Wow has times changed.
Pinetree
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06/24/2018 10:16AM
campcrafter: "There is also this 1950 film from Sommers Explorer Canoe Base
A Canoe Expedition, Explorer Scout Trail Skills Series



Plus these two from Sommers circa 1969 and 1981


Les Voyageurs


By Pack and Paddle


Blue Skies!
cc"


Cool,neat films.
Marten
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06/24/2018 02:56PM
I had the pleasure of canoe tripping with 70+ year old Wayne W. In the 90's. His family had a lodge on Seagull in the late 30's. He shared many stories of paddling those area lakes. Benny Ambrose and others were living out there then. It was a real treat to take him through his old haunts and hear the history. I think we were paddling Knife or nearby and he talked of he and a friend throwing rocks and making a shortcut channel. Looking at the map I spotted a probable location for such an endeavor and watched his excitement as we approached the channel.

My grandfather had the envious job of taking a business man's boys into the area for summer long trips in the 40's. He died just after I was born but some tales were passed on. One day they had illegally shot a deer and were pitching the meat into the brush when a motorboat approached and they feared it was the warden. I cherished the first time I did the ,Eddy Lake portage because I had labeled pictures of him crossing with a monster northern in each hand.

I was known to favor Dardvels so as the kids dove at a Horseshoe camp and came up with an old black and white version they wanted to know if I had been here before. I said no, but my grandfather may have lost it!!
GraniteCliffs
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06/24/2018 06:45PM
I first went as a young kid in the late fifties. Grumman canoes, canvas tents that always leaked and weighed a ton, big heavy white gas stoves, sleeping bags as large and heavy as a big loaded cooler. We saw boats often up and down Crooked Lake and Lower Basswood Falls. We brought in cans and bottles. There were still buildings and cabins in what is now the BW.
A few things are still the same some nearly 60 years later. They are the most important of all: The woods and water. Sunsets. The white throated sparrow calling. Staring at the bottom of the lake or the top of a granite cliff as you paddle by. Sitting by the lake on a calm clear morning. The sense of peace and tranquility.
And even for an old guy like me: The same thrill of excitement each and every trip I take each year.
Yep, the magic lives on........................
Pinetree
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06/24/2018 07:21PM
GraniteCliffs: "I first went as a young kid in the late fifties. Grumman canoes, canvas tents that always leaked and weighed a ton, big heavy white gas stoves, sleeping bags as large and heavy as a big loaded cooler. We saw boats often up and down Crooked Lake and Lower Basswood Falls. We brought in cans and bottles. There were still buildings and cabins in what is now the BW.
A few things are still the same some nearly 60 years later. They are the most important of all: The woods and water. Sunsets. The white throated sparrow calling. Staring at the bottom of the lake or the top of a granite cliff as you paddle by. Sitting by the lake on a calm clear morning. The sense of peace and tranquility.
And even for an old guy like me: The same thrill of excitement each and every trip I take each year.
Yep, the magic lives on........................"


Yeh the standard two burner Coleman stove and if your lucky your tent had a floor and the tent probably had a pole at each end holding it up.
Wonder what year was the Eureka Timberline come out? That actually changed the tenting industry quite a bit.
The old canvas tent reminds me of us who remember leave it to Beaver. beaver and Wally camping in the back yard. Beaver said he always heard the tent would leak if you touched the wall while raining. Well Beaver touched it and it leaked big time.
GraniteCliffs
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06/24/2018 07:43PM
I remember screaming at my brothers and others to not touch the tent when it was raining. Didn't seem to matter, leaked all the time regardless!
And those Timberlines. I don't think they came out for quite some time after that but what a change. Loved those things, still have one and gave one to a buddy.
My dad had a small canoe outfitting business on Lake Vermilion for a couple of years. I still use the Duluth Packs from that business on trips today. One of the packs was made about 1949 according to the Duluth Pack folks.
Pinetree
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06/24/2018 08:01PM
We bought are Duluth packs from a outfitter after a couple of seasons. Some had holes in some didn't but price was super cheap. Got my first Eureka timberline in 1972 I thought-maybe a little later?

From Eureka tents:
Under new owner - Sam Johnson, legendary American businessman and heralded environmentalist – our spirit of adventure and innovation was renewed during the 1970s. Eureka! Timberline®, the first ever, free-standing lightweight backpacking tent was a marriage of high-tech design and cutting-edge textiles, and a favorite among the rapidly growing community of backpackers across North America. The Timberline® marked the beginning of a long-standing relationship with the Boy Scouts of America that continues today.

History
mjmkjun
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06/24/2018 10:26PM
Canoearoo: "The Great Outdoors: There was no "BWCAW" in the 40's or 50's, it was created by the "Wilderness Act of 1964"
"



Yes I know that. I should have phrased it.. in the area that is now the BWCA but before it was the BWCA. "


:D
merlyn b
Guest Paddler
 
06/26/2018 10:56PM
First trip was in 1964., We had never done any camping like this before and used Way of the wilderness outfitters, Rolf and Gail Skrine (I think I misspelled the last name) Canvas tent, food was packed in canvas bags , Mapeline extract (add sugar and water to make maple syrup) Tang!!! butterscotch pudding that tasted of smoke and one small canned roast beef we drooled over for 5 days.
The gunflint trail either wasn't paved or only some was paved but I remember hitting my head on the roof of our corvair with all the bumps.
When we got to Grand Maris there was a fair or carnival going on and while we watched several huge canoes come in off lake Superior. Each one held like 4 or 5 guys and they were racing from ? to New York for the worlds fair. I think they started way north and were following the Hudson Bay fur traders route. Their triceps(sp?)back of their arms were huge from paddling.
It's funny how I can remember so much about that trip like it wasn't over 50 years ago.
If I close my eyes I can still see my Dad blowing like a mad man on a smoldering fire - still funny / sad.
Canoearoo
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06/27/2018 07:46AM
I am loving these stories, thank you everyone
 
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