Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Dawson Portage
by bierbaum12

Trip Type: Paddling Kayak
Entry Date: 08/04/2009
Entry & Exit Point: Little Vermilion Lake (Crane Lake) (EP 12)
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
History of Dawson Portage
Dawson Portage. Dawson Portage runs between Portage Bay of Sand Point Lake to Wilkins Bay of Lac La Croix Lake, in Canada. It is four mile long, dirt, gravel, stone trail traversing rocky outcrops punctuated by swampy sections.

According to Jim, our driver, who took Don and me, our two kayaks and all of our equipment over it in a rusted out GMC Suburban (pulling a trailer) shared the history of this portage as he navigated this very bumpy “road.” Colonel Dawson built this road in the early ‘30's as a means of trucking fuel and food to the Indian Village on Lac La Croix Lake’s north shore during the winter. The trucks would travel over the frozen lakes, which at that time were covered with as much as 30 inches of ice. A road cut had to be made overland to shorten the rout, which then was named after the Colonel. 

Resent years, this road became a portage as it permitted to bypass of the narrows of Loon River. Now, this overland rout is abandoned due to the two Marine Railroads (portages) on Loon River. Zup outfitter secured the right to use it for their customers, like us. Along the way, you can see a number of silent monuments from a period when this rout was more in demand. We passed old school buses, and bulldozers along the way.

Now days, the thought of driving over the frozen lakes escapes even the most adventures soles of the Northwood’s, as the ice rarely reach 18 inches thickness.