Temporary ExhibitThe temporary exhibit for 2018 at Chik-Wauk Museum is the tenth anniversary of the Gunflint Green Up.
The Gunflint Trail Historical Society had such an overwhelming response from the visitors to last year’s temporary exhibit, “Ham Lake Fire”, it was decided to display the exhibit for another season.
The exhibit commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Ham Lake Fire which burned 75,851 acres from May 5 - 12, 2007 (36,443 in Minnesota and 39,408 in Ontario, Canada.)
On Memorial Day Weekend 2007 after the recent Ham Lake Fire burned much of the
property towards the end of the Gunflint Trail, Nancy Seaton, owner of Hungry Jack
Outfitters organized a tree planting extravaganza for volunteers to come to the Gunflint Trail and plant thousands of white, red, and jack pines on the private property that burned.
In May of 2008, one year after the Ham Lake Fire an event sprouted on the Gunflint Trail. The Gunflint Green Up, spearheaded by Nancy Seaton and the Gunflint Trail Association. It was an event where volunteers would plant at six different locations along the Gunflint Trail that had been affected by the Ham Lake Fire. All the sites were on Superior National Forest lands. The USDA Forest Service provided planting bars and maps, and marked zones with ribbons to make sure it was clear where it would be best to plant the seedlings.
Gunflint Green Up happened every year during the first weekend in May (the anniversary of the Ham Lake Fire) for many years. It included a Friday night gathering to assign the planting sections to the leaders and volunteers. Saturday morning and afternoon were spent planting the seedlings. After the seedlings were planted, the Gunflint Green Up event was still needed for volunteers to “release” (remove competing vegetation around) the trees they had planted the years before. After a long day of working in the woods the volunteers and residents would
gather at the host site to enjoy a green fair, dinner, and music to commemorate their hard work. To round out the weekend events, on Sunday morning was the Ham Run half
marathon, covering 13 miles from Gunflint Lake to the end of the Gunflint Trail through
the area burned by the Ham Lake fire.
“That evening, when all the volunteers gathered back at the host site for the dinner,
it was an extraordinary experience to connect with so many who love these woods. It
felt as though we accomplished an awesome thing, bigger than all of us, even bigger than
the sum of all of us,” said Sue Ahrendt, owner at the time of Tuscarora Lodge and Outfitters.
Collecting stories of the Ham Lake Fire and the Gunflint Green up is ongoing. If you would
like your story recorded, or can provide a written account, we welcome your contribution to Gunflint Trail history.