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Monthly Archives: July 2012

I could talk for hours!

In case you’re wondering, I can…seriously. If I’m talking about something I’m interested in! One cannot be a history teacher and not like to talk; it’s kinda like being a comedian and not telling jokes. So I literally make a living by talking, a lot. Now don’t get me wrong, I can shut up if I need to, but I rather enjoy the one way conversation. And I do like to take my time with my explanations. When my wife asks me a question, she always finishes her request with the statement “…and in 20 words or less!” Unfortunately I find it very difficult to provide a sufficient description in such a limited context. Brevity is just not my thing; once when I was a kid a friend of the family offered me 25 cents to stop talking!

Anyway, so why the commentary on talking? Well, talking was one of the biggest highlights of my week. As mentioned in my previous post, last Wednesday I delivered my first public lecture on the railway since 1998. Fourteen years…that was certainly a long spell between talks! It was also my only railway related event of the week since I didn’t want to push my luck and go for a hike too. Gotta make time for the family first!

Speaking of which, I did get my share of family time in. We have been spending a fair bit of time at camp (the cottage, the lake…we’ve had this conversation) this year and this past weekend was no exception. I know that my boys enjoy it out there and my wife LOVES the sauna. I can be a bit of a chore though, since it is like having a second home. I spent most of Saturday morning cutting the grass (my fav) and I know that I’ll have to finish the rest when I’m out again. This also means that I haven’t had a lot of time at home, and the grass here has gone a few weeks without a trim. Thankfully it has been pretty dry so the growth has been rather slow.

Boating at camp, July 2012.

So, the presentation. Well, I can honestly say that it went fairly well. I was a bit nervous; it is very different talking in front of a bunch of adults than a classroom of teenagers. I was also unsure what the turn-out would be like. The last thing you want is to be giving a lecture in front of 5 people. In the end, there were 80+ people in the audience, which is a pretty decent crowd for a Wednesday night. It did feel the pressure at the beginning, but then I settled down into a nice comfort zone. Part of my apprehension stems from the fact that I’m way more knowledgeable with the material in the latter half of the presentation.

Duke Hunt Museum, July 2012.

The only bad part I can say was that I went over time-go figure! I thought I’d talk for about an hour, but I finished after one hour and forty minutes. I like to talk! I did not get any negative feedback and it seemed as though everyone was very attentive through my extra-long rambling. I’ll have to make sure I stay on track for this weekend.

On Sunday I’ll be making my first “international” presentation as I head down to the Chik-Wauk Museum at the end of the Gunflint Trail to give a lecture very similar to one from last week. Obviously the audience will be a bit different, so my emphasis will be more on the Paulson Mine and less on the railway. It is of no consequence to me however, as I feel very confident with both areas.

Gunflint Narrows, 1911.

The only weird part of Sunday’s talk as that it will be outdoors, therefore I will not have access to any technology. I spend every day during the school year talking in front of a Smartboard, but I will have no visuals to assist me there. It will be a very strange feeling. I’m sure my power to blab will carry me through…as long as I stay on time.

Following the presentation I plan to spend a few days on Gunflint Lake completing some fieldwork that I started last year, particularly on the eastern end of the lake. I’m also going to spend some time at Leeblain, as well as on both sides of the Gunflint Narrows. Should be a good time if Mother Nature cooperates!

Gunflint Narrows, August 2008.

On the topic on Gunflint Lake, I did receive some interesting news pertaining to the work at Leeblain. My local MPP cc’d me a letter that was sent to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, which oversees such things as historical preservation and archeology. Hopefully the government takes an interest in protecting the railway and such rare treasures as the rock ovens near Leeblain.

In the last few days I’ve also discovered some very important information related to the railway. Since I began my research 18 years ago, I believed that the railway still owned the right of way. Much of this stemmed from some old documents that I had, and information provided to me by some property owners. After I received the letter, I was then advised that the grade was in fact Crown Land. I did some digging of my own and I came to the same conclusion. The big question that now lingers is has any of the right of way been sold off, or is it all still public land? Hopefully I will find out soon enough.

Tomorrow I am heading out for another hike, the last before I head down to Gunflint. It’s going to be a short one, probably only 3k and so I am going to take my boys with me. We will be walking the grade near the old village of Flint which lies between Harstone and Hymers. It is a rather interesting spot since the majority of the land on which Flint sat at one time has now been obliterated by the Whitefish River. As you can see in the rough Google Earth overlay (not everything matches up), the river has shifted some 80+ metres to the east since 1960. I haven’t been there since 1995ish so I’m interested to see what I’ll find. I’ll certainly get some video and I can post it with my flashy new intro. I had a former student of mine create the introduction and so far I’ve uploaded one video with it; makes me look kinda professional!

Flint, ON.

Anyway, gotta get going. My next post will be on Sunday night from the Cross River Lodge (they do have internet) and I’ll try to have some pics of the presentation. Until then…

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Travel, Writing

 

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Good dog, bad dog.

So, I have a dog. Rather I should say my wife has a dog. His name is Loki, who was the Norse God of Mischief. Today I will begin with his story.

We got Loki in 2004 as a puppy. When my wife was growing up, she was not allowed any pets other than birds. We had always had cats around my house, so when we got married we ended up adopting two cats, Odin and Aurora. However, my wife had always wanted a dog. I was agreeable to her request with one small provision; if we were to get a dog I wanted a real dog, not an oversized cat. We spent some time looking around for puppies and finally found some for sale near Upsala, which is about 1.5 hours west of here.

When we arrived there were 11 puppies in the litter! Overwhelmed at which one to take, we chose the runt of the litter. That runt is now 8 years old and weighs 92 pounds. And what was supposed to be my wife’s dog has now become my dog. Not that I mind though; I never had a dog as a kid and Loki has become my constant companion. I have become so accustom to his company on my hikes that it will be a very sad day when he cannot tag along any longer. I’m actually quite disappointed that he will not be coming with my on my upcoming visit to Gunflint Lake-it will feel very weird without him.

Loki, July 2004.

Anywho, I guess I should get to the title shouldn’t I? Well, the good dog part happened last week during my hike on the railway (obviously you’ll hear more about it later). I had just reached the halfway point of the hike at Hymers and I was preparing to turn around and head back. Suddenly I heard a splashing sound in the river and then I saw something that shocked me. Bounding down the river was a young buck deer, completely oblivious to my presence. I immediately reached for the video camera and was able to record about 30 seconds of this awesome sight. The deer only stopped and then bolted when he saw Loki move, and I was surprised that he listened to my command to “stay.”

On Sunday we were at camp and Loki reverted to the dog that I am more familiar with. I spent a good part of the day cleaning the outside of the camp with the pressure washer and I was very tired afterwards. For supper that day I had taken four striploin steaks out of the freezer and had them thawing in a bowl on the front deck. When I finished my job, I headed inside for a drink and I noticed that the bowl was empty. At first I thought I was imagining things, but then I figured my wife had taken the steaks inside. I then spent the next few minutes hunting through the fridge for them without much success. The boys told me that they saw Loki licking the empty container; now I knew why I had seen him hiding outside. He knew he was guilty. So that day Loki enjoyed a wonderful meal of steaks while the rest of the family ate hot dogs and smokies since there was nothing else to cook!

Well, besides the dog excitement, it has been a typical busy week. The temperatures have still been high, though I think my body has gotten more use to this weather. We spent a half of last week at camp with friends, then back home for a few days, then back to camp. I also had to work on my presentation that is happening tomorrow (hence the late post) and I also spent yesterday entertaining our Italian visitors.

We finally we able to visit one of Thunder Bay’s premier attractions, Fort William Historical Park (Old Fort William as it used to be called). It is a re-creation of a 19th century fur trading outpost belonging to the North West Company. The fort is a living museum that attempts to demonstrate life as it was in 1815. I had not been to the fort since 2001 and my kids had never visited it in the summer season, so it was a very worthwhile trip. I know that our guests certainly appreciated what they saw.

As they are departing for Toronto tomorrow, I decided that there was one last place they needed to see; the Hoito. For those of you not familiar with Thunder Bay, or who have never visited our city, the Hoito (which means care in Finnish) Restaurant is a cultural icon here. Famous for its “Finn” pancakes, one can often find a huge line-up there that stretches out the door. Today was no exception. We had a party of eight, which made seating a bit difficult. It was insanely busy, which led to a bit of a wait for our food, but it was well worth it…I was stuffed most of the day!

So, on to the railway stuff. I mentioned earlier that it has been a very busy week, but I also said that I did get a chance to fit some hiking in. I wanted to take a look at the section between Hymers and Sellers, as I had not been in this area since 1995. I thought my best course of action was to park at Sellers along Dave’s Road (very fitting) and work my way east. I had mentioned this area in a previous post and that it would be a bit challenging due to some erosion of the grade by the Whitefish River.

My road, July 2012.

I began my hike and I immediately ran into some difficulties. In the past few years there have been some heavy rainfalls that have resulted in high water on the river, which has caused some washouts in the first section of line. I had a bit of hunting around until I re-acquired the grade. Once I did I was rewarded with a bit of a prize; a standing telegraph pole. I remember seeing this back in 1995 and was surprised to see it still up. A short distance away I found another and spent a bit of time following the wires to see if it led to anything else. It didn’t, but both poles still had fragments of the insulators on the wooden pegs.

Tekegraph pole, Sellers, July 2012.

The grade then settled into a nice straight section for about a kilometre before there was another washout. I had to detour about 150 metres along the river bank before finding the grade again (which was a chore). Ninety metres and then it was another washout, then a 600 metre section and yet another washout. It was then a tough 400 metre walk (the grade was heavily grown in) before arriving at the remains of the bridge that spanned the river at Hymers. It was there while photographing the pilings that I saw the deer.

Bridge pilings, Hymers, July 2012.

The return trip was much easier since I now had all the washouts and the grade marked on my GPS. That gave me more time to look for any goodies. I didn’t find anything spectacular, but in addition to the two standing telegraph poles, I found the remains of another 7. I also found what seemed like miles of wire, some of it hung up in the trees, in one spot even grown into the bark of a tree.

Erosion, Hymers, July 2012.

After 6+ kilometres of walking I finished the hike. That was very fortuitous since my legs were beginning to cramp up in the heat and the constant climbing over deadfall. I certainly cannot wait to get out again, but I will have to wait since my railway time this week will be consumed by the presentation at the Duke Hunt Museum.

Speaking of which, I have spent the last few days working very feverishly to complete the PowerPoint for the lecture. It is surprising how long it takes to put together sometime that will be over in an hour. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked though; the number of hours it takes to prepare for a school lesson far exceeds the time it takes to teach it. It’s all good though, and I hope those that attend will take something away from it. I’m still nervous though. My whole career revolves around talking in front of people, but talking to a room full of adults is very different from a room of teenagers. I know I will be fine, but I always get lots of butterflies before something like this!

Anyway, gotta run. Still have a bunch of things to do for tomorrow so I better get to it. I’ll have a full report of how things went next week. Until then…

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Writing

 

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Back to God’s Country

Catchy title huh? Betcha you thought I had this great enlightening moment when it came to me right? Wrong…I stole it! Back to God’s Country is the title of a of 1919 Canadian silent film which was based on a short story written by James Oliver Curwood (there were remakes in 1927 & 1953). Ironically enough, Curwood wrote several novels with the same theme, one of which, The Country Beyond (1922), specifically mentions the railway in it. Curwood spent a lot of time along the railway dating back to the 1910’s, which influenced his writings. So, why did I pick this as the title for this week’s blog? Well, you’ll just have to keep reading.

So, what’s new? Well, it’s still stinking hot. But it’s summer, what’s so unusual about that? It is unusual because we seldom get this many days of solidly hot weather; it has been close to, or over 30C for the past 10 days. That is very weird for our area. Global warming? Probably, but that doesn’t exist right? Anyway, it has been both a blessing and a burden. I certainly appreciate the warm weather, but at times it has just been hard to bear, especially the humidity. You have to remember that it gets down to -30/-35C in the winter; that’s almost a 60 degree temperature swing!

In the meantime I have been very preoccupied with the visiting relatives I spoke about last week. On Tuesday we travelled down to Grand Marais, Minnesota which is a picturesque little town about 1.5 hours south of here. While I was there I paid a little visit to the folks at WTIP radio since I’ve had several conversations with the news director at the station regarding the railway. They are going to do a few little radio promos for my talk at the Chik-Wauk Museum on August 5th.

I also had a chance to stop by the Cook County Museum and meet up with an old friend, former museum director Pat Zankman. Pat and I met back in 1997 after I had written to the museum looking for information regarding the railway and the Paulson Mine. It had been a long time since we had spoken so it was good to re-connect. Pat has already prepared some writing work for me about John Paulson…I could make this gig a full-time job!

Anyway, the relatives enjoyed the trip and it was nice to beat the heat along Lake Superior. Yesterday we took them back to camp, with a short trip to Ouimet Canyon. Unfortunately it was scorching hot, but I was able to cool off with a nice dip in the lake. Then it was back into the heat for a refreshing sweat in the sauna! The time at camp also gave me time to try out the “new” boat we bought to take the kids around the lake (it obviously is used). Runs very nice…can’t wait to get it on to Gunflint Lake in August!

Well, what about the title Dave? Okay, I guess it’s time to talk railway. So on Thursday I decided to take a journey to the Canadian side of Gunflint, which is a rather interesting ordeal since it involves a 150km drive over some very rough road. The last time (and the first time) I did this drive was in 2008. I had recently heard that sections of the road had been repaired, and more importantly, that some work was being done along that lake near Leeblain. As I mentioned last week, I am very concerned for the preservation of the rock ovens near the ghost town and any potential remains that might be located there.

So my journey began very early, since the drive would be long and I wanted to beat the heat. The trip started with a very unique twist in fact. As I was passing Iron Range Lake and some road work, I noticed a guy walking along the road. It is very unusual to see someone walking along the road in that area since it is very remote, especially since it looked like the guy belonged in a metal band and not walking a gravel road. About 10km or so up the road the story got even better; I see a SUV on its side along the road. Then I realize the guy I saw was the driver of said vehicle (he had probably lost control and rolled), but he made no attempt to flag me down or anything. The plates were from Virginia, and the message written in the dirt on the rear window said “I’m fine, gone up the road.” What a bizarre episode.

Flipped SUV.

Eventually the gravel road became even rougher, and I entered the area burned by the 2007 fire. As I approached Gunflint Lake my thoughts were that people would have to be nuts to drive into the lake on that road on a regular basis-it was insanely rough! However, once I reached the area just above Magnetic Lake, the view was worth the drive. The surrounding ridges sit some 200 feet above the lakes, and a beautiful panorama unfolds before you. It is very breathtaking, even with the burned nature of the forest.

Magnetic Lake, Gunflint Narrows and Gunflint Lake, July 2012.

As I was descending the hills toward the lake, I came across several heavy machines heading north. I stopped and chatted for a while with the driver of a large dump truck. He told me that they were done working and were leaving the area, which was much to my relief. He also informed me that they were aware of the rock ovens and that there were currently no plans to develop that area. I certainly felt a big weight lifted off my shoulders, but I did want to check the ovens over for myself.

The ovens are located approximately 300m northeast of the newly graded road along the railway right of way. I drove to the spot and quickly found the undisturbed oven with my GPS. I decided to take a few minutes and poke around to see if I could locate the other oven that was nearby. To my surprise I may have located it buried in sand that was placed on the grade back in 2000 when the area was logged. I’ll have to go back with a small shovel to investigate further, but it appears it is in the right spot.

Rock oven, Leeblain ON, July 2012.

I then drove a little further up the road to where the RV sites had been created and near where the grade crosses a small creek emptying from an unnamed lake. From there it would be nearly 4km to our destination at the Gunflint Narrows. Almost immediately it was obvious that some work had been done to the grade, as the workers had replaced a burned bridge over the creek with a culvert and had bulldozed the right of way. They did muck some stuff up (ie. disturbing some of the drainage) but they also turned up things that had been buried like dozens of spikes.

Unamed Lake, July 2012.

After the small lake, the railway passed through a number of small rock cuts before the grade and the road split. When the area was logged in 2000, they chose not to follow a 600m section of the grade and instead built a new road around it. About 300m is through a swampy area, and the remainder encompasses an embankment and a rock cut. The road then intersects the grade, and afterwards there are several long embankments (they are not particularly high, but made of a lot of crushed rock). The second embankment is followed by a 150m long, 20 foot high rock cut.

This cut is of particular importance since it is the location of the Gunflint Cross. I made mention of the cross in a previous post and although this was my third visit to the site, it is still interesting nonetheless. The cross is a memorial to a worker named Joseph Montegia who was killed in a blasting accident near the spot in October 1892. In his memory, his fellow workers carved the cross near where he fell, and today it remains there 120 years later. The cross sits almost 5 feet above the grade, and is easy to miss if you do not know where to look (it was actually obscured by bushes growing at the sides of the cut).

Gunflint Cross, July 2012.

From the cross, the railway passes through several more rock cuts before it reaches the site of a 250+ foot trestle. Most of the eastern side has been obliterated when they created first the snowmobile trail and later the logging road. The trestle sat probably 30-40 feet above the valley, and it is neat to see the remains of the western abutment, with the massive amounts of rock fill that was used. Beyond that there are a few more rock cuts and embankments before the railway reaches Gunflint Narrows. I didn’t walk all the way to the Narrows since I will be returning in August and I knew that it was nearly noon and getting hotter by the minute (the temperature peaked at 36C with the humidity). Poor Loki was feeling the heat!

So I guess I didn’t explain the title did I? Well, this area is so beautiful and remote it is like the God’s country that Curwood spoke of, and it wasn’t my first trip there. As I walked the grade, I did what I often do in the quiet silence; I imagine what it would have looked like all those years ago. It would have been something to ride the train through that remarkable and untouched wilderness. Maybe someday they’ll invent a time machine that will let me do that…maybe in a hot tub!

Anyway, enough for this week…I’m had back to camp today so I have to get going. I’ll be back next week at the usual time. Until then…

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Travel, Writing

 

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I am Ironman!

My alter ego? I wish! Secret childhood fantasy? Nope. So what gives Dave? Well, today we celebrated my youngest son Noah’s fifth birthday and Ironman was one of the toys he received as a gift. Noah is quite enamoured with superheroes, in particular Spiderman, Batman and Ironman. He even picked out a Batman cake.

I was never into those things as a child, though now as an adult I find my kids interest in them intriguing. It would kinda be cool to have a special power, or a suit like Ironman. I must say I did like the movie, particularly the end when Tony Stark answers the reporter’s questions with the statement, “I am Ironman!”

Anyway, back in the real world, things are chugging along. The first week of holidays has passed by and I feel somewhat relaxed, though things are still very hectic. Last week I wrote about our quick trip to Duluth and the pace of things has not stopped. On Wednesday I spent the better part of the day hiking the railway (which I will talk about later), and then it was a short turn around to make it to the airport to pick up some relatives who were flying in from Italy. Showing them the sights has kept me and the family hopping, since there are five of them and I have to help shuttle them around.

On Thursday we headed out to Kakabeka Falls, which is one of the traditional places to visit around here. Not as big or tall as Niagara Falls, they are nonetheless quite a beautiful sight. The only negative that day was the heat; we are still struggling through some warm temps, and it doesn’t show any signs of letting up! I was certainly feeling pretty sweaty and gross after walking around the falls for a while, but I guess I shouldn’t complain. It could be -30C outside and I could be sporting a parka instead!

On Saturday we took our guests to my in-laws camp for a day at the lake. I think the kids (as well as mine) enjoyed the warm weather and the temped lake water; I’m sure they’d like a return trip at some point. Maybe this Saturday might be a good time, since we still need to visit Ouimet Canyon, the Amethyst Mine and Sibley.

Rail bed, Wolfe Siding, July 2012.

Things have been progressing as well on the railway front. As I already mentioned, last week I was able to get out for my first hike after the end of school. I decided that I would tackle the section of railway just west of Wolfe Siding (that area is now officially know as Suomi) since I had never hiked that area before and I didn’t complete it when I was there in early June.

I tried to get out as early as I could since I knew it was going to be hot later in the day. It is roughly a 45 minute drive from my house to where Wolfe is located on Whitefish Lake. I would start my hike where I ended the last one at Mileage 46 Road and work my way 3km east to Wolfe. My previous hike had been very difficult due to the heavy growth and I was hoping that it would not be a repeat of that experience.

Telegraph pole, Wolfe Siding, July 2012.

One of my main objectives for the hike was to locate any remains of a bridge on a creek about 900m east of Mileage 46 Road. I had been to that spot in 1998, but I wanted to see what was still left. I was in for a bit of a surprise though, as I would find a few more things than I anticipated!

About 200 metres into my walk I made the first discovery, broken shards of what had been a ceramic culvert (or culverts-there may have been two) under the grade. Another 250 metres later I made my best find, the prized telegraph insulator. Every time I hike the railway I am always scanning the south side of the grade looking for telegraph poles and potentially a very rare insulator. As I was winding my way along, dodging the trees and deadfall, I happened to look back on the grade and caught something white on the ground. Sure enough it was the remains of a pole with the insulator still attached. I marked its location in my GPS as I knew I didn’t want to lug my find along with me.

Culvert, Wolfe Siding, July 2012.

As I continued east I did find the remains of the bridge, and then a 150m long, very high embankment. From there I entered a relatively open area of the railway, which would stretch almost the whole way to Wolfe. About 1km west of my destination, and just beside Mile 46 Road there was another interesting discovery; an intact ceramic culvert. The grade above it had been supported by rock, and the culvert was still doing its job and handling the flow of water under the grade.

After reaching Wolfe I began my return journey and shortly thereafter I came across something very neat. About 400m west of Wolfe I had wandered slightly off course, but it the process I made a discovery. I noticed a pile of rocks very close to the grade, arranged in a circular pattern that definitely was not natural. I then remember I had seen the same thing weeks earlier when I found a telegraph pole closer to Mackies. This was the base of the pole, where it had been inserted into the ground and the rocks were there for support. While I could not find the pole, I now had an obvious clue to help me find other poles. I then proceeded to locate another four poles on my way back, making a total of six poles (I guess five) for the trip.

Glass insulator, Wolfe Siding, July 2012.

After 3 hours and nearly 7 kilometres I had made it back to my truck. I drove the short distance up the road to photograph and retrieve the insulator I had found earlier. It will make a fine addition to the similar items I had donated to the Duke Hunt Museum in the past.

Speaking of the Duke Hunt, my presentation there is rapidly approaching. I just finished printing off some posters to put up and I need to get my butt in gear with the slide show. Since I’m busy writing this blog today, tomorrow night might be a good time. However, my thoughts right now are preoccupied with Thursday’s impending trip to Leeblain.

Ever since I had heard that the road to Gunflint Lake had been repaired I have been itching to get to that area of the railway. With the potential development that might be occurring there, my trip is even more urgent. Late last week I received an email from an acquaintance with the US Forest Service. He informed me that he had seen an excavator at Leeblain, which certainly got my attention. The only part of the trip I am not looking forward to is the drive, which is almost 150km, most of which will be on gravel roads. Hopefully all goes well and that I will be able to bring back some great pics of the area (and I don’t keel over from the heat-it’s supposed to be 38C with the humidity). I’m also praying that no damage has been done to the rock ovens at the ghost town.

Anyway, gotta get rolling. Tomorrow we’re off to Grand Marais with our guest for a little visit south of the border. I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say in next week’s post. Until then…

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Writing

 

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School’s out for summer!

Yes, the legendary rocker Alice Cooper put it best, though it would be nice if school was out forever! I guess I wouldn’t get paid then, and unemployment sucks. Oh well, the two month break is very much appreciated and will be very relaxing.

In a stroke of perfect timing, the weather over the last week has seemed to settle down. The temperatures have been on the rise and at times it has even been uncomfortably hot. I guess that is what happens when the weather is all over the place and the sudden onset of heat gives the body a bit of a shock. Could be worse though; there are people in the northeast US who are dealing with 40C temps and no power. Kinda makes the 28C in my bedroom Sunday night a bit more bearable.

So, what have I been up to? Well, with aforementioned hot weather on the weekend, the family and I decided

Bass Lake, June 2012.

that camp was the best place to beat the heat. We really hadn’t been out to camp this year, aside from a few short little visits, so it was nice to get out to the lake. Swimming in the water was a treat as well, especially after a relaxing sauna. My kids love being at camp, a sort of change of pace from the regular routine. The only part I hate is when I have to cut the grass, since I LOVE to cut grass and do yard work. It only took 2.5 hours to do the whole thing!

If you’re a regular follower, you’ll have noticed that I’m a day late with this post; that’s ‘cause I was away from home for a few days. The family and I headed down to Duluth, MN for the night on Monday to do a bit of shopping and we just returned home. It was a nice little break, though the only downside (if you can call it that) was the heat. Yesterday was hot, and today was even hotter. The heat generated a pretty wicked thunderstorm last night, with bolts of lightning flashing across the sky; it was quite impressive.

Duluth Lighthouse, July 2012.

We spent most of today either driving or inside, which was a good thing since the truck thermometer was showing 30C+ (it was 33 at one point). We drove down to Minong, WI to take a look at some boats and the heat was absolutely stifling there. Even now it still is 34C with the humidity; I might just hide in the basement so I can get a decent sleep!

On the railway front there is not a lot to report. I wasn`t able to get out hiking last week, but I am heading out tomorrow. I want to finish the hike I started along Whitefish Lake between Wolfe Siding (Suomi) and Mackies. It`s not supposed to be as hot tomorrow (25C), but I`m not taking any chances and I will be heading out early to beat the heat.

Even though I was not out in the bush on field work, I did get a few things accomplished last week. While I was finishing up exams, I had a little lieu time coming to me, so I took Tuesday afternoon off and ended up at the Lakehead University (LU) Library. The Library you ask? Yes, the library. Seems pretty bizarre, but I had some time and there was some stuff I want to look at.

The internet has been a gold mine of information for me, but unfortunately not everything I find on the net is downloadable. They are like tempting little morsels, taunting me with what they might hold. I had found some hard copies of some material I was after at LU so I decided to pay my old alma mater a visit. It had been quite a while since I had been in the library to look up old books, so I was a bit dumbfounded at first. I had to ask for directions!

Most of the information I was after was located in old mining and forestry reports. There was some valuable information, particularly in the mining reports, since the Gunflint Range that holds the Paulson Mine extends into Canada for some 50 miles; the railway was supposed to tap into some of this Canadian iron as well. These geologic reports shed a lot of light into the quality and quantity of iron located in this extension of the Mesabi Iron Range. You can imagine how disappointed I was however when one book, which was supposed to have 4 maps of iron location along the railway, was missing two of the maps. They had been torn out! Thanks dirt bag whoever you were-now I have to try to find this book elsewhere, probably in Toronto!

I also found some time to start working on an article for the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, of which I am a member. I have been wanting to write an article for TBHMS on Leeblain for a while now, and since I have already written one article this year (no idea when that will be completed), I thought I would move on to something else. I have about 550 words so far, which is a decent start. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to work a bit more this week, as I know I will have to put it on hold soon to begin working on my slide show for my presentation on the 25th of this month. We’ll see where I am by next week.

Anyway, I better wrap things up since I have an early morning. I’ll have a bit more to report after tomorrow’s hike, and next week I will be on time! Until then…

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Writing

 

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