Kicking off the 2009 WVO Roadtrip, we stopped at a Minnesota park to refill the veggie tank. We found this placard (kind of ironic we are on a tourist adventure):
Minnesota’s Arrowhead Region: A Tourist Mecca
- “The North Country is a siren. Who can resiter son of intricate and rich counterpoint!” (Grace Lee Nute, The Voyageur’s Highway. 1941)
Lured by America’s Premier wilderness canoe region, Lake Superior’s rugged shoreline and cascading streams, and Duluth’s reputation as America’s great inland seaport, tourists have been coming to the north-eastern Minnesota since the 1890’s. In recognition of this great natural treasure, President Theodore Roosevelt established the Superior National Forest in 1909.
Tourists first came by steamship and rail. But it was the advent of the automobile and building of roads, particularly the Lake Superior International Highway (the North Shore Drive), dedicated in 1925, and the Gunflint Trial, built during the 1920’s, that opened what came to be called the Arrowhead Region. The region’s civic leaders, quick to take advantage of this new opportunity, organized the Arrowhead Association in 1924 to promote the area’s recreational opportunities. Thanks in part to the organization’s efforts, the North Shore Drive soon came to be known as one of the nation’s most scenic highways. Americans, infatuated with the freedom and adventure of automobile travel, came in large numbers. In 1938, an estimated 1,000,000 tourists visited Split Rock Lighthouse, and in 1940, the U.S. Coast Guard declared it to be “probably the most visited lighthouse in the United States.”
Numerous resorts were developed during the 1920’s to accommodate the over-increasing number of tourists. The State of Minnesota acquired several scenic areas along the North Shore for parks: Gooseberry Falls in 1933, Cascade River in 1934, and Temperance River in 1936. In 1926 the federal government moved to preserve the pristine lakes and forests of the boundary region as a wilderness canoe county.
This region remains a favorite destination for travelers from all over the world who heed the captivating call of the Arrowhead Region.