Woods and Waterways of Northern Minnesota

Over the past forty plus years I have traveled the Arrowhead of Minnesota. My first visit in the late 6o’s presented a view I had never knew existed in this world … even though I had lived in over twenty different places as I grew … from the tropical forests of South America, to the Pacific Ocean and the varied landscape of California, the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, the plains of South Dakota and the mountains of Colorado. It was not spectacular in the same way as the mountains, nor as lush as the jungles of South America, or as eerily deep and unfathomable as the ocean, or varied in climate and environment as that of California, or immense as the redwoods and sequoias. Minnesota had this quiet, livable and almost benign sense about it when I arrived in the fall of 1968. It wasn’t until I spent my first winter here and traveled the Arrowhead that I began to understand the true meaning of wilderness. Lake Superior was beyond my comprehension at the time … a sea of freshwater. Loving the ocean and familiar with the smell of salt, it was unusual to see so much freshwater cascading down the stoney embankments in Cook County especially … into this huge reservoir of the Great Lakes.  At first I missed the smell of salt, but I grew to love the implications of this treasure. Only recently, as I looked on geological and topographical maps of the area, did I begin to understand the full meaning of this environment. It struck me in such a way that I felt compelled to share some of the photos I have taken over these past 40 plus years as we face the prospect of copper mining in this priceless reserve of freshwater for the world. There are over sixty rivers, creeks and falls in the area.  One of these is Devil’s Kettle Falls on the Brule where water diverges into two streams, one flowing to Lake Superior and the other discharging underground to places unknown. Shouldn’t we understand the waterways in northeastern Minnesota better before considering further mining of any kind?

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

February 5, 2014