Sunday, June 10, 2007

Grand Portage National Monument and the High Falls

Before the Gathering began we wandered about the North Shore for a few days. The most surprising and enjoyable experience was a few miles from the Canadian Border in Grand Portage, Mn.

The monument is a preserved fur trading station and a reconstructed stockade.

It is particularly noted for it canoe workshop where they make period birch bark canoes used by the fur trade. The largest canoes are among the most amazing vessels I have ever seen at 40 feet long and capable of carrying 2500 lbs.
Remarkably this vessel weighs 500lbs ; which is absolutely astonishing for it's size. Even with 200 years of nautical technology under our belts people haven't come up with a lighter vessel of this size.
Here's a view of the underside one of the canoes. It is made of spruce and then it is covered in birch bark pieces sewn together with spruce roots. The seam are tarred over with a boiled down mixture of pines gum a spruce sap.

The main compound was impressive with a lovely but very small bake oven.

This delightful china setting in the main hall.

And finally some very beautiful birch baskets on the top shelf; unfortunately it is a felony to steal from a national monument But I was sorely tempted to make off with the baskets.

After Flopper indulged my historical chatting with the historic interpreters we headed norrth to the Pigeon River which marks the border between the US and Canada to look at the High Falls. They are 120 feet (very high for the midwest) and are the second highest falls on Laake Superior. The US is on the left and Canada is on the right.
I thought about crossing downstream to have a few moments of legal equality but decided the water was rather cold and so stayed stateside.