Tuesday, August 7, 2001

Hello from International Falls, Minnesota

Start time:  0745

Start odometer: 5706

Weather:  Mostly sunny, warm, clouds moved in towards end of drive.

Today had a bit of a theme, with the emphasis on Paul Bunyan!  It started in Bemidji,   where I stopped by Lake Bemidji, the first town visited by the Mississippi River.  The town erected a very tall statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe (picture to be added.)  Continuing on this theme, I continued driving until I arrived in the town of Akeley, where another large statue of Paul is placed along side of the main road.  This particular statue leans down with his hand, so one can sit in his palm while a picture is taken.  Maybe I should not have brought my tripod, but I put it to use!  I do not think the townspeople looked too strangely at me, since they are most likely used to seeing this tourist ritual!  One last touristy thing to do was drive to Menahga, a small town south of Park Rapids.  There is a large statue of St. Uhro, a Finnish legend that ridded a community in Finland of grasshoppers many years ago.

Finally, I headed towards my next destination, the headwaters of the Mississippi River.  It is located at the draining point of Lake Itasca, located in Itasca State Park.  A very interesting site to see when you realize how it grows in size during its travel through the United States, it originally was all part of a marsh area.  In the 1930s, someone suggested to build a dam and make it more presentable.  This is what you see in the pictures included.  Also, this is obviously a popular spot for tourists.  The temperature was in the 90s, so many people were looking for anyway to cool down.  Still, there were interesting displays to read, and neat to see the start of such a mighty and historic river.

After driving through the park, I continued north towards International Falls.   Along the way, I stopped at Blackduck to look for the location of Paul Bunyan's rifle!  I read somewhere that it had been on display here, but I could not find it.  I went to the Post Office, and the people there did not know about the rifle, but they mentioned a duck by a hardware store nearby.  So after stopping at the "original" duck, I went to the town park, which was the location of their newest duck!  There also was an information center, so I asked the lady at the desk about the rifle.  She remembered it, but knew it had been removed from its original location, and had not seen it for a long time.  She thought about calling City Hall, but she said the two people there were new and would not know about it!  I love small towns!  Too much time on this, agree?!?!? 

Continuing on Route 71, I noticed the town of Kelliher off to the west a few miles.  I read of another Paul Bunyan item, so I turned towards the town.  Fifteen minutes later, and after stopping at the local grocery store for directions, I entered the Paul Bunyan Memorial Park.  Inside and to the left is the "grave site" of Paul!  They even had a tombstone with his name, birth and death dates, and the following phrase "Here lies Paul, and that's all."  Like I said at the start, the Paul theme was strong today!

I returned to Highway 71 and went to the Voyageurs National Park, east of International Falls.  After going through the visitor center and walking around the area, I headed back into International Falls to secure lodging for the evening.  

Tomorrow I will head towards the Lake of the Woods, and the Northwest Angle.  The Northwest Angle is an area of the Lake of the Woods at the northern most point of Minnesota, and also the continental United States.  When I was in New Brunswick, I saw an art piece that was part of a project called "Sunsweep", which is an international art project by David Barr.  He placed three pieces across the U. S. and Canada, one being on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, another at Point Roberts, Washington.  The final item was placed at American Point, which is located in the Northwest Angle at the northern most point of the continental U. S.  There are no roads, and I do not know of boating schedules to the island, but I would like to try to get to it if possible.  All I know is that a nearby island is accessible by fifty miles of road, twenty which is gravel.  It should be an interesting area, even if I do not get to American Point.

Click on picture for larger image, hit back button to return to this page.

Paul and Babe in Bemidji!

A sign near the Paul Bunyan statue.

The story of the Paul and babe statues in Bemidji.

My visit with Paul in Akeley Minnesota. 

Paul's plaque.

A close look at his face.

This town makes good use of the center of the street.

A statue honoring the legend of St Uhro.

This plaque describes the story of St. Uhro.

Lake Itasca, in Minnesota's Itasca State Park.

Information about the Mississippi and the headwater area.

This historical marker provides a short version of the search for the source of the Mississippi.

This, and as shown in the various pictures that follow, is the location of the start of the mighty Mississippi River!

This is the dam that was constructed to better show the beginning of the Mississippi River!

A panel describing the headwater area, and the changes over time, both manmade and natural.

This is the Mississippi River, looking south from the source.

Another view of the Mississippi.  Notice the people walking in the river.

A ceremonial post for the start of the river.

A plaque describing the Old Northwest Territory.

One final look north to the start of the Mississippi.

This is the first duck statue in Blackduck.

this is the new duck statue!

Many pretty flowers were arranged in the park in Blackduck.

This is the "tombstone" for Paul Bunyan in Kelliher.  On the bottom reads "Here Lies Paul, and That's All"

A look at the "burial plot" for Paul Bunyan.

Not easy to miss this sign along the road!

This sign was posted at Voyageurs National Park and describes the story of the traders that passed through this area.

The National Park Service vendor has boat rides to other areas of the park.

Downtown International Falls, Minnesota.  Hard to imagine how cold it gets here in the winter!

A statue in a park in town.

The sign for the previous picture.

An interesting building in International Falls.

Mr. Floyd's barber shop!

Thanks very much for visiting the site, and please send your comments.  


Routes traveled today:  US 71-Mn 200-Mn 64-Mn 34-US 71-Mn 200-Mn 2-US2-US 71-MN 11

Hotel: Super 8 -

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