Chik Wauk Lodge


  • July 6: Five people met to discuss the possibility of forming a partnership with the Forest Service to convert Chik-Wauk Lodge into a historical museum.
  • July 27: Sue Kerfoot and Betty Hemstad met with Dennis Neitzke, U.S. Forest Service Gunflint District Ranger, for the first time. He asked that a Business Plan be prepared for the Forest Service.
  • July 31: Fifteen people met and decided to form the Gunflint Trail Historical Society (GTHS).
  • August 29: After a detailed inspection of Chik-Wauk, the Forest Service sent the GTHS a 14-point Deferred Maintenance Report.
  • September 26: The GTHS was incorporated.
  • November 25: The GTHS sent its Business Plan to the Forest Service.
  • December 15: Bruce and Sue Kerfoot and Ron and Betty Hemstad met with Dennis Neitzke in Grand Marais to begin the partnership discussion. It included a conference call with Forest Service personnel in Duluth. It was confirmed that a contract would be drawn up by Lisa Pattni, Forest Service Partnership Coordinator.
  • March: The GTHS received its 501(c)(3) determination letter from the IRS. The GTHS received the first draft of a Challenge Cost Share Agreement from the Forest Service. Bruce and Sue Kerfoot, Dave Tuttle, and Ron and Betty Hemstad met in Duluth with a group from the Forest Service to discuss the details of the Challenge Cost Share Agreement. The GTHS drafted a Four-year Working Plan for the FS and the GTHS based on discussions at the March 13 meeting (Note: This plan has not been approved by the FS. It has met with the approval of the GTHS Trustees.) 
  • April: Lee Zopff, Bruce & Sue Kerfoot, and Ron &Betty Hemstad met with Dennis Gimmestad (State Historic Preservation Officer) and Tim Glines (Outreach Officer) at the Minnesota Historical Society in St Paul. They also met with Chris and Jane Wilson at Split Rock Studios (professional exhibit design firm) in Arden Hills. Sue Kerfoot and Betty Hemstad met Walt Okstad, Bill Clayton and Erin Potter at Chik-Wauk to discuss the building assessment for the National Registry and the PIT projects for this summer during the last week of July and the first week of August.
  • May: Several members of the Society met with Greyling Brandt, Steve Schug and Fran Hartle to discuss placement of the toilet and numerous questions re the 14 point deferred maintenance projects.
  • June: The Society has updated the Four Year Plan based on subsequent discussions. Society received MOU draft from Dennis Neitzke. Six Society members and twelve members of the Forest Service Personnel meet at Chik-Wauk, Gunflint Conference Center and at the Forest Service in Grand Marais to discuss the draft of the MOU, the FS’s 14 Point Deferred Maintenance Plan, the draft of the Society’s Four-Year Plan and the second draft of the Challenge Cost-Share Agreement. The Society and the Forest Service signed a Memorandum of Understanding.
  • August: The Society members gather to “clean-up” the property and picnic.
  • September: Society members and Partners in Time (PIT) complete window restoration and painting. Chris Wilson from Split Rock Studios met on the Gunflint Trail with the Trustees and with the Society membership. He presented a proposal to begin design work.
  • November: Society signed contract with Split Rock Studios to develop a Concept Design for the Chik-Wauk Museum.
  • December: Chris Wilson met on the Gunflint Trail with Society representatives to discuss the Concept Design at the 25% stage.
  • Late Winter: Split Rock Studios and Society representatives continued to work on the Concept Design.
  • April: Bruce Kerfoot completed work on tuck pointing the chimneys at Chik-Wauk. Society and the Forest Service signed the completed Challenge Cost Share Agreement.
  • May: Society received the completed Concept Design for Chik-Wauk from Split Rock Studios. Society approved contracting with Split Rock Studios to begin work on the Final Design.
  • June: The Chik-Wauk roof restored to the original brick-red color, with classic gutters and copper trim. Chik-Wauk listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 27, 2007.
  • August: The GTHS and USDA Forest Service signed the Special Use Permit. This license gives the society the privilege to operate a historical museum and nature center in the former Chik-Wauk Lodge building. The completed building projects included: repair of deteriorated kitchen floor, new entrance ramp to museum, major masonry work on the front porch, refinished wooden entrance doors and screens (PIT – Passport In Time – project), all new window hardware installed, telephone service lines buried to building, wildfire sprinkler system installed. The grounds committee began landscaping and major work was done on the driveway and parking area. An accessible ramp was built from the museum to the outhouse.
  • December: On December 31 the Trustees met with Split Rock Studios to receive the 60% Final Design Plan for the museum.
  • Flooring Installed
  • Electricity brought in, track lighting installed
  • Trail work begins
  • Lodge work landscaping begins
  • First annual Taste of the Gunflint Trail fundraiser event held.
  • Artifacts, historical photos, personal histories, library books, and donations continued to be collected for Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. GTHS continues to work with Split Rock Studios on museum design. Awarded the contract for the 70 videos to be done in 2010. Began planning for the grand opening. Collected native materials to provide Split Rock Studios for part of various displays. Finished writing copy for the exhibits. Finished collecting photographs.
  • May: Seedlings planted at Chik-Wauk as part of the second annual Gunflint Green Up event
  • July: Canoe the Heart celebration of Superior National Forest and Quetico Provincial Park centennials held at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center
  • August: Member picnic at Chik-Wauk
  • September: Second annual Taste of the Gunflint Trail fundraiser
  • Winter: Final preparations made for museum components.
  • March: Museum manager hired
  • May: On May 19th, a semi-truck loaded with all museum display components arrives at Chik-Wauk. Split Rock Studio employees spend approximately two weeks installing museum exhibits.
  • June: Museum electronics are installed. Museum volunteer trainings are held. “Becoming a Boundary Waters Family” U.S. Forest Service ranger presentation series begin. Annual Meeting held at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center “in the big top.” GTHS members are given a “sneak” peek of the museum one week in advance of the July 4 grand opening.
  • July: Grand Opening held on July 4. Attendance is approximately 350.
  • September: Approximately 200 people attend another successful “A Taste of the Gunflint Trail” fundraiser. First school group visited the museum.
  • October: Closed for the season – first year attendance is 10,907.
  • Winter: Oral history interviews conducted, transcribed, and cataloged thanks to a MN Legacy Grant.
  • May: Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center reopens for 2011 season – first full season. Loon nesting platform installed in Chik-Wauk bay. 
  • June: “Becoming a Boundary Waters Family” U.S. Forest Service ranger presentations begin. Chik-Wauk “Nature Walks and Talks” series launched. 
  • July: Annual meeting and fish fry event held. Loon chicks hatch. New temporary exhibit on the history of Chik-Wauk Lodge installed. 
  • September: Very successful Taste of the Gunflint Trail event held over Labor Day weekend. Event included pie and ice cream social, sidewalk sale, and book signings.
  • Spring: Hiking trail to Blueberry Hill reestablished and opened
  • Summer: Begin preparing Cultural Landscape Report of Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center property with Quinn Evans Architects of Madison, WI and Ann Arbor, MI.
  • September: Historic Homes Tour Fundraiser on Hungry Jack Lake
  • May: “The First Pioneer Family of the Gunflint Trail” temporary exhibit is installed to tell the story of the Charlie and Petra Boostrom family of Clearwater Lake. 
  • June: Gunflint Trail Explorers family naturalist program launched
  • July: Historic Homes Tour Fundraiser on Clearwater Lake
  • August: Gunflint Woods, Winds, and Strings Benefit Concert held at Schaap Community Center at Poplar Lake.
  • Autumn: GTHS completes refurbishment of the historic Gunflint Trail entrance signs in downtown Grand Marais.
  • November:  Final draft of Cultural Landscape Report complete.
  • May: “Butterflies, Skippers, and Moths of the Gunflint Trail.” Temporary exhibit chair Betty Hemstad has worked with Youngstown State University entomology professor emeritus David MacLean to prepare this year’s exhibit.
  •  June: First Shrimp Boil at Seagull Lake Community Center  
  • July: Kid's Day, Naturalist Day with the U.S.F.S.  
  • August: Gunflint Woods, Winds, and Strings Benefit Concert. Pie and Ice Cream Social.
  • February: Blessings came to start the building project of the new Nature Center and Administrative Buildings.
  • April: New site Manager.
  • May: "The Paper Trail" is the temporary exhibit this year. It is a collection of past reservation books, brochures and diaries of resorts along the Gunflint Trail BEFORE computers. Ground breaking on the Nature Center.
  • June: Second Shrimp Boil at Seagull Lake Community Center. Kid's Day on Tuesdays all day long. Naturalist Day with the U.S.F.S. on Tuesdays from 2 pm to 3:30 pm. Foundations for the new nature center and administrative buildings have been poured.
  • July: Fifth Anniversary Celebration Dinner held at Seagull Lake Community Center. Dinner catered by Carol Valentini of Valentini's Vicino Lago in Duluth. Buildings going up for Nature Center and the Administration Building. Kid's Day being held on Tuesdays all month long.
  • August: Tom McCann presented Ernest Oberholtzer and an Invasive talk was presented by Laurel Wilson at the Seagull Lake Community Center. Earl Niewald, retired U.S. Forest Service Ranger talked at the GTHS meeting about the controversy of the late 1970's with the Forest Service and the local resorts.
  • September: Marking the end of summer was the Old Fashioned Pie and Ice Cream Social. Held in the new Nature Center (still under construction), looked like rain and wind that day so the event was moved indoors. The Chik-Wauk "sidewalk" sale was moved on the front porch of the museum.
  • October: Closing day of the museum the 18th. Work still continues on the Nature Center as well as the Admin Building.
  • May: Opening Day of Museum and Nature Center 28.                                                        The temporary exhibit that will be on display this year in Chik-Wauk Museum will be "Heard but not Seen". A two part display, both about birds. “Heard but Not Seen” focuses on 8 of the birds singing in the forest surrounding Chik-Wauk.  Each bird is pictured in the panel manufactured by Split Rock Studios.  Several ways to learn each bird song are included, a mnemonic and a song recording.  This exhibit is designed to move to the Nature Center in 2017.  
  • The second part is contained in the cabinet which faces out the window.  The window view includes the floating loon nest platform.  The cabinet contains samples of the manufactured platform, a loon nest replica, and of course, information about loons.  You’ll also be able to listen to 4 loon calls.
  • June: Marked the third annual Shrimp Boil at Seagull Lake Community Center. The BWCA Canoe Expo was also held at the Seagull Lake Community Center for the second year. Kid's Day on Tuesdays all day long started June 21 and will run through August 16. Naturalist Day with the U.S.F.S. on Tuesdays from 2 pm to 3:30 pm from June 21 through August 23.
  • With the new Nature Center we are now offering Sunday, Special Nature Presentations. June we kicked off the program with having Ann Russ, lead a group of people one early morning on Chik-Wauk grounds for a birding hike. Later in the month we had Amanda Weberg, the AIS Coordinator do a presentation on Aquatic Invasive Species.
  • July: Is the month we like to do our Grand Openings for buildings on Chik-Wauk property. July 3 was the Grand Opening for the Chik-Wauk Nature Center building.
  • We continued our nature programs in the Nature Center. On July 17, Illena Berg the Water Plan Coordinator from Grand Marais did a presentation on macro invertebrates. July 24 we had a Wild Edible Hike with Teresa Marrone and to finish off the month of July we had "Retirement on the Gunflint" by Betty Hemstad.
  • August: For the GTHS membership meeting we were pleased to have Patricia Emerson, Director of Archaeology, for the Minnesota Historical Society. She presented a program on the underwater exploration of the Granite River done by the Minnesota Historical Society from 1963 to 1970. You can listen to the recording by clicking on the word "recording" in this sentence and follow the link to, 08-08-2016 Underwater Exploration of the Granite River by Pat Emerson, MNHS.
  • August: was just as busy with Sunday Nature Presentations. John Silliman, from Gunflint Lodge did a wonderful presentation on Wild Fire Ecology, David Battistel came to talk about "The Gunflint and Lake Superior Railroad". August 21, Dave Grosshuesch, US Forest Service employee from the Tofte Ranger District came to talk about the poplulation of lynx in our area. Along with all of those activities the 4th annual Gunflint, Woods, Winds & Strings concert took place at the A. Paul and Carol Schaap Community Center on August 14.
  • September: The tradition continues for Labor Day with the Annual Old Fashioned Pie & Ice Cream Social. I had heard reports of 40 some pies being sold. What a great fundraiser for the GTHS. Every year brings out the bakers of the Gunflint Trail. Along with the Pie Social we had the "Sidewalk Sale" with great discounts in the Chik-Wauk Museum gift shop. Teresa Marrone, was on site to sign her new book "Dishing Up Minnesota".
Chik-Wauk Nature Center’s building opened on campus in 2016. Staff naturalist Jacqueline Mallinson returned for her second summer in 2017. The Nature Center building adds experiential encounters for visitors who often come and spend the entire day exploring the cultural and natural history of the Gunflint Trail. Daily records show 500+ more visitors at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center in 2017 than in 2016.  Special Sunday Nature Programs were added to the event calendar. An average of 45 – 55 people attended each special program. The ever-popular Tuesday Kids’ Day programs continued and, on the same day, U.S. Forest Service staff offered a variety of nature presentations. Day trips to Chik-Wauk were arranged with the local schools and Cook County YMCA. Several grants assured these special programs and presentations were all free of charge. 
The topic of the temporary exhibit this year (and for 2018) was the 10th anniversary of the Ham Lake Fire, “Remembering the Ham Lake Fire 2007”. An interpretive panel designed by Split Rock Studios displays a wildfire progression map, photographs and “fire facts”.  Using a tablet device, visitors to the museum are able to listen to WTIP Community Radio audio interviews and view Good Measure Media’s Ham Lake Fire video. An electronic photo frame shows photographs collected from the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department, Cook County, local residents and others.  Journals documenting Ham Lake Fire experiences are available in printed format, as well as collections of daily Incident Command wildfire updates and media clippings. Wildfire fighters’ gear and clothing and melted artifacts provide visitors a real-life connection to the Ham Lake Fire.
The Gunflint Trail Historical Society (GTHS) continued progress on two new structures, facing similar challenges in 2017 as in 2016. One structure will house historic watercraft with interpretive signage.  The other structure is to be a typical example of a rental cabin from the 1930s. The GTHS received a $250,000 grant from the Minnesota Legacy Fund for the building projects. The original timeline was to raise the timber frame of the historic watercraft exhibit during summer of 2017 and complete the cabin by year-end 2017. After numerous configurations and a site relocation, building plans are now approved and accepted by MN-SHPO (Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office) and the U.S. Forest Service. Construction begins on both structures in the spring of 2018.
The Gunflint Trail Historical Society remains committed to working with its partners the U.S. Forest Service, Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office and Split Rock Design Studios to retain Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center as an outstanding facility presenting the cultural and natural history of the Gunflint Trail in a friendly, accommodating manner.

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