GRAND PORTAGE (WCCO) — Minnesota has two equally beautiful, but distinctly different National Monuments, located at complete opposite ends of the state. This week, I’ll look at one, and then when I return after July 4th, I’ll take a look at the other. Visiting each of the monuments last year was definitely among my travel highlights.
Grand Portage National Monument is up on the far northeast corner of the state, beyond Grand Marais. It’s a recreation and restoration of the site of a once-important trade route, with voyageurs using it as a jumping-off point from Lake Superior to go inland for trading. Today the National Monument is the starting point for an 8.5-mile trail that follows the steps of those voyageurs.
When you arrive, your first stop should be at the Grand Portage Heritage Center, where there are several helpful exhibits that explain the significance of the site.
Then continue on to the actual Monument. Generally, I’m not prone to liking “recreated” places, but I have to say, Grand Portage is so lovingly and meticulously rebuilt that it overcame any objections I might have had.
The site was discovered in 1922, and since then, more than 120,000 artifacts have been uncovered, which were studied carefully as the plans for restoration and re-creation were put into place.
There are costumed guides ready to explain what you’re seeing and answer any question. Staff and volunteers here don’t just explain things, though, they also maintain the beautiful heritage gardens, which contain heirloom vegetable varieties that date back to the 18th century.
The vital role of the Ojibwe is on display too in the Ojibwe village, complete with a traditional fur trade canoe under construction.
Right across the road from the Monument is Mount Rose, which has a short (1/2 mile) but very steep paved hiking trail. It’s worth the effort to get to the top.
History, close up and overview.
What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.