BWCA Train on Basswood... Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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Whichwaysnorth
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
  
07/17/2011 07:31PM  
Does anyone know what the deal is with the train in Basswood. A few weeks ago we were headed to Good Creek and there was a train, almost completely submerged, near the mouth. Does anyone know the history behind it?
 
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07/17/2011 07:35PM  
got any pics?
 
07/17/2011 07:35PM  
I wonder if it was an "alligator" used for logging back in the early 20th century. Basswood was heavily logged over on the US side.
 
Whichwaysnorth
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
  
07/17/2011 07:39PM  
unfortunately no pic's. it looked old. defiantly ran on coal judging from the smoke stack.
 
KennyLogIn
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07/17/2011 08:12PM  
Sounds like the name of a porno.
 
PaddleAway
distinguished member(980)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/17/2011 08:16PM  
Whichway, I assume you're talking about the Hoist Bay side of Good Creek? Any chance you could pinpoint exactly where? Going in that direction in a couple weeks & this would be a good day-trip. Thanks!
 
07/17/2011 08:21PM  
Going to be in the area next week with an underwater camera, DETAILS PLEASE!
 
07/17/2011 08:23PM  
Did it say "Amtrack" on the side of it? They have a history of underwater trains.
 
The Great Outdoors
distinguished member(5592)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
07/17/2011 08:42PM  
Basswood, and many other areas were logged. The Cloquet Line has many spurs off it going to Fourtown and Murphy Lake (Tin Can Mike)
If you look carefully on the left side when on Murphy Lake heading to the Horse Lake portage, you may be able to detect an old railroad grade that ran there.
You will actually walk on part of it when traveling from Range to Murphy.
 
spottedowl
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07/17/2011 09:40PM  
It probably was a wood burner. The fuel is all around. Wouldn't import coal to a logging camp. If it has a big stack that is to catch the sparks from burning wood. A coal stack is smaller. Was it just the locomotive?
 
bapabear
distinguished member(2862)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/18/2011 10:29AM  
Would love to see pictures of this if anyone has/gets some.
 
SevenofNine
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07/18/2011 10:56AM  
quote bapabear: "Would love to see pictures of this if anyone has/gets some."


Sounds like Corsair needs to get us pictures!
 
thebotanyguy
distinguished member(780)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/18/2011 02:56PM  
The following paragraph, excerpted from The Boundary Waters Wilderness ecosystem by Miron Heinselman (1996), may shed some light on the train. It refers to a railroad built by the Swallow and Hopkins Timber Company:

"Swallow and Hopkins had to develop some unique transportation methods to move its logs to its Fall Lake millpond because most of its timber holdings were downstream from Fall Lake (which drains into Basswood Lake). They also had to raft log booms across several large lakes. The solution to the first problem was to link Fall Lake to Basswood with a railroad portage capable of transporting millions of board feet of logs yearly. A temporary logging railroad from Fall Lake to Pipestone Bay of Basswood Lake was used from 1899 to 1900. Another short rail portage was built from the northeast end of Fall Lake to Ella Hall about the same time. Then, to reach their timber holdings in the Basswood Lake area further upstream in the Moose - Ensign - Snowbank – Ima and Knife Lake regions, they build the Four Mile Portage in 1901 from Fall Lake to Hoist Bay of Basswood Lake. Hoist Bay gets its name from the Swallow and Hopkins hoist that loaded logs onto railroad cars at the Basswood Lake terminus of this line. A 40-ton Brooks locomotive and a smaller switch engine were used on the portage. The Brooks engine, which burned wood for fuel, moved several carloads of logs each trip. This railroad was also used for moving camp supplies, which for transfered over Prairie Portage on rails by winching."
 
airmorse
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07/18/2011 03:17PM  
quote Whichwaysnorth: "Does anyone know what the deal is with the train in Basswood. A few weeks ago we were headed to Good Creek and there was a train, almost completely submerged, near the mouth. Does anyone know the history behind it?"


Could you point out where it is on this map.


That would be fun to dive and explore.
 
bdub09
member (20)member
  
07/19/2011 10:04PM  
The boundary waters has more history than we know of. Before it flourished with logging camps and canoeists along with trucks, trains, tough ass men and women who respected it. Now a days the circus regulates your bowel movements there and what to do with your fish guts..
 
The Great Outdoors
distinguished member(5592)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
07/20/2011 06:25AM  
I agree, there aren't many people that know the history of the Bdub, how many resorts, homesteads, and cabins were removed, and jobs lost when they "built" the wilderness.
 
07/20/2011 11:09AM  
Are there any good history books out there about the BDub region that anyone knows of?
 
Whichwaysnorth
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
  
07/20/2011 11:23AM  
I have the point marked where I remember the train to be. the trip was over a month ago now so I may be off by a little. I know for a fact that the train is on the side of the lake that I marked and is roughly that far from shore. The only thing I'm questioning myself on is if it is in the bay I have marked or the next bay to the east. never the less its marked! Train on Basswood
 
07/20/2011 11:23AM  
quote The Great Outdoors: "I agree, there aren't many people that know the history of the Bdub, how many resorts, homesteads, and cabins were removed, and jobs lost when they "built" the wilderness."


I think most people do know this...a lot of enviros use the BW as an example when trying to establish wilderness areas. I was not alive prior to the Wilderness Act (or 1979 BWCAW) but am fully aware of how the area changed as a result. My grandpa's family owned a cabin on (or near) Moose Lake.
 
apugarcia
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07/20/2011 11:37AM  
quote Whichwaysnorth: "The only thing I'm questioning myself on is if it is in the bay I have marked or the next bay to the east. never the less its marked!"

I don't see a marking on that map?
 
Whichwaysnorth
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
  
07/20/2011 11:51AM  
Its the orange point of interest dot on the map almost right in the center of the map. just slightly to the east of Good Creek.
 
airmorse
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07/20/2011 11:58AM  
quote Whichwaysnorth: "Its the orange point of interest dot on the map almost right in the center of the map. just slightly to the east of Good Creek."


Thanks for posting that in the map section. I have put that on my list of things to see while in that area.
 
07/20/2011 12:02PM  
Now I have yet another reason to visit that area :) Thanks!
 
Whichwaysnorth
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
  
07/20/2011 09:55PM  
no prob, let me know how it goes! i would love to see pictures!
 
PaddleAway
distinguished member(980)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/26/2011 08:39AM  
OK, I can't see the point of interest either...it's not showing up on the map for me, & we may be headed through here in a few days. Could someone describe exactly where it is to me? We'd love to see it if we get into the area!
 
apugarcia
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07/26/2011 08:59AM  
quote PaddleAway: "OK, I can't see the point of interest either...it's not showing up on the map for me, & we may be headed through here in a few days. Could someone describe exactly where it is to me? We'd love to see it if we get into the area!"

It eventually showed up for me after I logged out and logged back in. Give that a whirl.
 
TuscaroraBorealis
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07/26/2011 09:01AM  
quote fitgers1: "Are there any good history books out there about the BDub region that anyone knows of?"


Check out The Voyageurs Highway . It doesn't go into great detail. But it does briefly describe the history of various areas in canoe country.

A couple others you may want to check out.
~ "By Water & Rail" a history of Lake county by Hugh E. Bishop
~ "Sawbill" by Mary Alice Hansen

In my experience it seems there are/is no completely definitive book(s) on the history of the area. But there are several books out there that speak to the colorful past history of the region in small doses.
 
07/26/2011 09:16AM  
New life goal: become wealthy enough or find a wealthy patron so that I can tackle writing the definitive guide to the history of the BW region.

;-)
 
07/26/2011 09:19AM  
quote TuscaroraBorealis: "
quote fitgers1: "Are there any good history books out there about the BDub region that anyone knows of?"



Check out The Voyageurs Highway . It doesn't go into great detail. But it does briefly describe the history of various areas in canoe country.


A couple others you may want to check out.
~ "By Water & Rail" a history of Lake county by Hugh E. Bishop
~ "Sawbill" by Mary Alice Hansen


In my experience it seems there are/is no completely definitive book(s) on the history of the area. But there are several books out there that speak to the colorful past history of the region in small doses. "


Thank-you for this information. Perhaps everyone on the board can submit historical information and we can publish our own book.
 
walleye_hunter
distinguished member(1713)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
07/26/2011 09:30AM  
quote fitgers1: "
quote TuscaroraBorealis: "
quote fitgers1: "Are there any good history books out there about the BDub region that anyone knows of?"




Check out The Voyageurs Highway . It doesn't go into great detail. But it does briefly describe the history of various areas in canoe country.



A couple others you may want to check out.
~ "By Water & Rail" a history of Lake county by Hugh E. Bishop
~ "Sawbill" by Mary Alice Hansen



In my experience it seems there are/is no completely definitive book(s) on the history of the area. But there are several books out there that speak to the colorful past history of the region in small doses. "



Thank-you for this information. Perhaps everyone on the board can submit historical information and we can publish our own book."


"Betsy and Saganaga" by Betsy Powell is a fun book to read that gives a person an idea what life was like for some of the old timers that lived in the area. Like TB said, it gives a small dose about one family and one area.
 
analyzer
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07/26/2011 10:45AM  
I have the "Betsy and Saganaga" book. Interesting read.
 
inspector13
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07/26/2011 12:33PM  

Another couple books having history of NE Minnesota is Marvin G. Lamppa’s book Minnesota’s Iron Country and Minnesota’s Logging Railroads by Frank A. King.

Also the first six chapters of Lamppa’s PBS series are pretty comprehensive with the early history of the area. The remaining six focus primarily on the mining of the Mesabi Range.

 
TuscaroraBorealis
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07/26/2011 01:03PM  
Also check out anything written by Justine Kerfoot, Bob Carey or John Henrickkson.
 
07/26/2011 04:28PM  
quote The Great Outdoors: "I agree, there aren't many people that know the history of the Bdub, how many resorts, homesteads, and cabins were removed, and jobs lost when they "built" the wilderness."


You'd be surprised at how many American wilderness areas have a history of mining/prospecting, failed settlement, landing strips, past logging operations, etc. But what was preserved is basically the best of what was left. Sixty percent of the BWCAW was logged at one time or another, but the uncut stands that remain are the biggest in the US, east of the Rockies.

Most of the resorts were in the Basswood Lake area, with only a few scattered across the rest of the area.

In the grand scheme of things, the loss of jobs by designating wilderness areas is extremely small when compared to the value of preserving national treasures.
 
Motorboater
member (49)member
  
07/26/2011 05:04PM  
quote Whichwaysnorth: "Does anyone know what the deal is with the train in Basswood. A few weeks ago we were headed to Good Creek and there was a train, almost completely submerged, near the mouth. Does anyone know the history behind it?"


Are you sure that what you saw was a train? It sits in Hoist bay, near shore and near the entrance to Good creek (opposite Four Mile portage). I came upon it about ten years ago and was told by some longtime Basswooders that it was a steam-powered type raft/boat left over from the logging days. Apparently it has sunk so deep in the mud that it can't be hauled out without a major undertaking.

 
inspector13
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07/26/2011 05:18PM  

I think you may be right Motorboater. The Swallow and Hopkins Company used steam powered scows on Fall and Basswood Lakes according to King's book page 108.
Google: steam barges for logging in Minnesota and the book will come up. I can’t get the link to work.

 
Motorboater
member (49)member
  
07/26/2011 05:57PM  
quote inspector13: "
I think you may be right Motorboater. The Swallow and Hopkins Company used steam powered scows on Fall and Basswood Lakes according to King's book page 108.
Google: steam barges for logging in Minnesota and the book will come up. I can’t get the link to work.

"


That's a very good read. Traveling thru peaceful serene Hoist bay now, you would never believe that it was once a log-jammed swamp, clogged with work crews, skows and trains. Later in the '50s and '60s
the train was replaced with buses that plowed up and down Four Mile portage bringing in vacationers to the many resorts on Basswood. A large commercial houseboat rental operation existed there just to the west of the Good Creek entrance.
 
inspector13
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07/27/2011 05:41PM  

I saw a picture of one of those buses on Wilderness Outfitters’ website. I also remember reading somewhere that there is an old vehicle in the woods somewhere at the end of that portage.

As an aside, I have a Lake County map I picked up about 10 years ago that still shows the location of some buildings around Rice Bay, towards Prairie Portage, and a couple other areas on Basswood that I can’t recall right now. I looked up the newer version of that map online and it no longer shows them.

 
Motorboater
member (49)member
  
07/27/2011 07:56PM  
It's unfortunate that the history of all the old resorts and commercial operations on Basswood are not very well chronicled. I think maybe the Forest Service prefers it that way to discourage people from digging around and messing things up. I guess I can't blame them.

Most of anything I know comes from old-timers who hold the knowledge, first hand. Pretty soon those folks will be gone and so will a lot of the colorful and detailed history of those waters.
 
07/28/2011 06:59AM  
Older versions of USGS topo maps show the locations of old buildings/resorts, as well as the network of logging roads in the southern BWCA.
 
inspector13
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07/28/2011 01:09PM  

That commercial operation mentioned is also marked on my map, as well as a few buildings on the peninsula NE of Hoist Bay.

I used to use TerraServer before it was dropped. They had a bunch of old USGS maps that showed clear-cut areas on the North Shore, and burial grounds near Murphy Lake. Too bad I didn’t take a liking to history until well after high school.

 
Whichwaysnorth
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
  
07/30/2011 02:31PM  
So all these old land marks and resorts were just abandoned? were they left standing or were they destroyed? is their any chance that if one could get their hands on one of these old maps that they could possibly find one of these resorts? I understand there wont be much left of them at this point but it would be a fun day trip.
 
Motorboater
member (49)member
  
07/30/2011 09:44PM  
After the Wilderness Act passed in 1964, all resorts, cabins and other structures were bought out by the government. Each one was dismantled piece by piece and hauled out by the Forest Service. There most certainly are co-incidental remnants of some of these structures still out there if you can find them.

One building still standing is the the old structure at Prairie Portage. It's left over from a resort that I believe was once owned by longtime locals, the Chosa family. The resort cabins extended west from there along the shore.
 
07/31/2011 12:40PM  
Linky Linky

Here is a real good book that gives a good history of the BWCA thru the Logging perspective around the turn of the last century.
 
The Great Outdoors
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07/31/2011 08:20PM  
quote Whichwaysnorth: "So all these old land marks and resorts were just abandoned? were they left standing or were they destroyed? is their any chance that if one could get their hands on one of these old maps that they could possibly find one of these resorts? I understand there wont be much left of them at this point but it would be a fun day trip."

If you can find a 1958 or older Fisher Map, you will see many cabins, resorts, or homesteads marked on them.
Everything will have grown in so much that finding the sites may be a challenge, but there may be remnants of old stoves, horseshoes, dinner bells, etc, left in the area.
 
08/01/2011 09:03AM  
Stu has put several articles about some of the history of the area and some biographies in the Boundary Waters Journal in past issues. You can check out some older BWJ's to get this.
 
08/01/2011 09:51AM  
You look at the Basswood end of the four mile portage and the amount of red pine bark in the water is still very abundant along the shore. Must of been a sawmill right at that site.
 
Harv
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08/01/2011 10:41AM  
quote The Great Outdoors: "
quote Whichwaysnorth: "So all these old land marks and resorts were just abandoned? were they left standing or were they destroyed? is their any chance that if one could get their hands on one of these old maps that they could possibly find one of these resorts? I understand there wont be much left of them at this point but it would be a fun day trip."

If you can find a 1958 or older Fisher Map, you will see many cabins, resorts, or homesteads marked on them.
Everything will have grown in so much that finding the sites may be a challenge, but there may be remnants of old stoves, horseshoes, dinner bells, etc, left in the area."


As TGO said, if you know where to look some remnants can be found such as old stoves. I've found some on the Eastern side of Basswood.
 
burntsider
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08/12/2011 09:04AM  
quote arctic: "
quote The Great Outdoors: "I agree, there aren't many people that know the history of the Bdub, how many resorts, homesteads, and cabins were removed, and jobs lost when they "built" the wilderness."



You'd be surprised at how many American wilderness areas have a history of mining/prospecting, failed settlement, landing strips, past logging operations, etc. But what was preserved is basically the best of what was left. Sixty percent of the BWCAW was logged at one time or another, but the uncut stands that remain are the biggest in the US, east of the Rockies.


Most of the resorts were in the Basswood Lake area, with only a few scattered across the rest of the area.


In the grand scheme of things, the loss of jobs by designating wilderness areas is extremely small when compared to the value of preserving national treasures."


Easy to think that, I suppose, if it's not your job or your hometown that's been lost.
 
Whichwaysnorth
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
  
08/16/2011 08:07PM  
PADDLEAWAY did you stop by the site for pics?
 
PaddleAway
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08/17/2011 08:50AM  
Sadly, did not. Took my two girls (8 & 10 ) in for the first time & with the wind we had, no way we were going to make it that far. I'm waiting for someone who did though!
 
Whichwaysnorth
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
  
08/17/2011 09:29PM  
Corsair? did you stop by?
 
ifish2
Guest Paddler
  
02/16/2012 02:12PM  
Headed to BWCA in june. Will take pictures of train if possible. I also have seen remnants of an old barge just off of washington island. Anyone ever hear about paddlewheelers being used on basswood? They used to travel all the way up to U.S point I guess.
 
TuscaroraBorealis
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02/16/2012 04:00PM  
Here is a link to a great trip report by smuts. Included in it there are pictures of the train as well as the surrounding area.
 
PaddleAway
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02/17/2012 09:14AM  
Wow, thanks for pointing us to that trip report, I missed that one. Great pictures!
 
PortageKeeper
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02/17/2012 10:00AM  
quote The Great Outdoors: "I agree, there aren't many people that know the history of the Bdub, how many resorts, homesteads, and cabins were removed, and jobs lost when they "built" the wilderness."

Still love the hint of sarcasm in your post. More locals can understand it than others might. There really needs to be mapping done, and history noted of these family owned businesses, homesteads, trappers cabins etc. After all, they were a part of the entire history. Or, maybe there already is something that I haven't seen? It doesn't matter if the FS wants it or not.
 
02/17/2012 06:25PM  
I was on a winter camping trip in that area earlier this year and got a couple of photos of the steam engine/train artifact. Pics were not that good, however, as it was getting late, and I only had my cheapo camera. The one in the trip report referred to above is a much better shot, but this one is kind of cool as it's a winter pic. There is also a lot of other historical archaeological artifacts in the near vicinity.

 
Cheech
member (9)member
  
06/20/2015 06:45PM  
I have photos of the machine in the back of Hoist Bay on Basswood. I am just back from my trip. It's not a locomotive but definitely something. JUST back from my trip there, was looking for info on it and landed here. I'll add pics tomorrow.
 
Cheech
member (9)member
  
06/20/2015 06:50PM  
quote Cheech: "I have photos of the machine in the back of Hoist Bay on Basswood. I am just back from my trip. It's not a locomotive but definitely something. JUST back from my trip there, was looking for info on it and landed here. I'll add pics tomorrow. "


Not sure exactly how to add a photo
 
OldFingers57
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06/20/2015 07:03PM  
quote Cheech: "
quote Cheech: "I have photos of the machine in the back of Hoist Bay on Basswood. I am just back from my trip. It's not a locomotive but definitely something. JUST back from my trip there, was looking for info on it and landed here. I'll add pics tomorrow. "



Not sure exactly how to add a photo"




Down below the box where you type in your post is a Add A photo to this message. Click on that and then hit browse and select your photo from your computer file. Then hit preview photo and then click save photo.
 
neutroner
distinguished member (420)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/20/2015 07:18PM  
On my list of things to see this summer. Thanks for the info.
 
Cheech
member (9)member
  
06/20/2015 07:51PM  


Here's one pic of the thing in Hoist. What is it?
 
Cheech
member (9)member
  
06/20/2015 07:52PM  
Another pic
 
Cheech
member (9)member
  
06/20/2015 09:09PM  



Could you point out where it is on this map.



That would be fun to dive and explore."


 
06/20/2015 09:42PM  
My neighbors use to have a old steam engine just rigged for cutting up timber into saw logs.

You look at Hoist bay right at the end of four mile portage. The bottom is still has thick layers of bark from white-red pine being sawed up on the edge of the bay from trees logged around basswood. I bet that steam engine was used for that purpose and was on the ice and fell thru,thus they could not retrieve it.
 
mr.barley
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06/20/2015 09:45PM  
quote Cheech: "


Here's one pic of the thing in Hoist. What is it? "
I saw something similar to this near the portage from Sturgeon to the Maligne River.
 
06/20/2015 11:33PM  
Ah I just went there a few weeks ago looking for this. I could not find it even with nearby fishers pointing me in the right direction. They told me it was an old steam engine/boat. Very cool that you saw it.
 
06/22/2015 10:55AM  
Cool! Thanks for pics!
 
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