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      Ice road incident, Brule Lake, 1948     



distinguished member(1532)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/17/2020 12:15PM
Here is a short excerpt from an article written by Robert Lee, Iron Mountain, MI, May 2005. The title is North Star Timber Co. and the Davis Lake Timber Sale, Cook County, Minnesota, 1948 - 1952. Robert Lee was the Camp Clerk.

The 1948 freeze-up was unusual in that the lake froze
before there was much snow. A car or pick-up truck with
chains on could drive on the ice anywhere on Brule Lake. The
ice was thin along the shoreline, however, and pointed up
the difficulty that could be encountered with winter cross-
lake travel. Here is how Dave Mealey describes one episode:
"In January, a road crew went out on Brule Lake with
the intent of setting small fir trees in the ice to mark the
roadway. This was necessary because without the markers a
driver could easily get lost crossing the lake at night or
in a snow storm. That time the crew was using a pickup truck
to haul trees and complete the job. The roadway had not been
plowed, the ice was still thin, and when the truck became
stuck the driver spun the wheels to get free. The truck had
tire chains on and when the wheels spun they cut through the
thin ice. The rear wheels dropped through the ice and the
truck settled in the water and hung on the running boards
and fenders. The guys walked to shore and cut a couple of
long birch poles. They returned to the truck, rolled down
the windows and shoved the birch poles through the windows.
They had barely completed the task when the ice gave way and,
the pickup ended up in the lake hanging by the poles through
the windows. I wasn't present for that little escapade so I
don't know what they did to retrieve the pick-up, but they
did. And you will probably recall seeing that truck with the
dents in the top of the door frame on each side where it
hung on the birch poles."

I do recall that truck, a 1948 International with a 4
speed transmission, as I later was assigned that unit when I
returned to work full time for North Star in June of 1949.
The truck was winched ashore somehow and rehabilitated, but
forever thereafter it had two crescent shaped dimples at the
top of each door frame which whistled as one drove down the

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distinguished member(1414)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/17/2020 02:46PM
Brule Lake is my favorite area to start a trip in. Interesting read, thanks. If Brule Man is still on the site, he has some good stories of the history of the Brule area.
distinguished member(698)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/17/2020 05:27PM
Great story!
distinguished member (295)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/17/2020 06:39PM
Tough, hardy folks who did that. Thanks for the story, I really enjoyed it!

distinguished member (155)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/18/2020 05:29PM
I recall leaving Brule and following out a vehicle that was leaving a trail of motor oil. The last 7 miles back was a very rough old logging road. The trail of oil would disperse for a number of yards, then began fresh for a distance, and this continued until we reached the main road. If you had a high clearance vehicle, you were a head of the game. Many of the roads were under construction, both from Tofte and Grand Marais. You had to just bump along to get through, without damaging the under carriage. It could easily take several hours to go from Tofte to Brule on the Sawbill Trail. It was worth it though, the fishing was great and there wasn't a lot of people. We stayed at the Brule Island Camp. I seem to recall the weekly rate was $65 a week per adult and they didn't charge me because I was under 18 years. Dad and friends drank beer from cone top cans and we ate northern pike, which were smoked right on the island. The water was piped from the lake and the cabins warmed, burning wood in barrel stoves. We caught our limit of walleyes every evening in North Bay and then later in the month in Cone Bay. Echo Lake was good northern fishing, they were all about 24 inches. Someone commented that the size was stunted because of the number of fish. We used red & white daredevil spoons for the northern and yellow jigs, called super dudes, alongwith wood casting bobbers and minnows for the walleye. The closed face spinning reels were just coming into there own, in the late 50's. I have many fond memories of our Brule trips, covering over about a 50 year period, beginning in 1957.
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