Welcome!Gypsy TourMinnesotaNorth Shore Drive

 

The 160 mile drive from Duluth to the Canadian Border was quite an adventure. As the road hugs the shore of Lake Superior it offers impressive lake views and access to eight state parks, waterfalls, rivers, trailheads and luxury resorts.


North Shore Drive — Scenery Extraordinaire

Even though we had read and heard superlative descriptions of the drive along the north shore of Lake Superior, we still found ourselves overwhelmed. We quickly learned that it is absolutely impossible to experience it all in one visit … this really is a drive that begs for repeated visits.

Although the day was cloudy, the sun peaked through for an instant and illuminated one of Minnesota's best known landmarks, Split Rock Light House. Built in 1910, it guided ships past the rocky coast until 1969.

The Temperance River makes a thunderous and swirling drop into an amazing gorge so narrow you can’t always see the bottom. Legend says that the river owes it name to the fact that the river once lacked a sand "bar" at its mouth.

The main purpose for our trip up the North Shore was to spend several nights at the dazzling Naniboujou Lodge (Nanny-boo-ZHOU). Built in the twilight of the Jazz age, the lodge was intended to be an exclusive private club for "men of wealth and distinction".

The heart of the lodge is its Great Hall … its 25 ft high ceiling is arched like the bottom of a canoe and is covered in a psychedelic marriage of Art Deco and stylized Cree and Ojibwe Indian designs.

Naniboujou’s grand opening in July of 1929 couldn’t have been more ill timed. Within four months came the infamous Crash on Wall Street … all dreams of an exclusive retreat for the wealthy evaporated. Click here to learn more.

The paint in the Great Hall is as brilliant as the day it was applied. This is attributed to the use of special pigments and the fact that it is painted on fiberboard panels called Celatex.

We found the chandeliers a bit odd … although beautiful, they are made from lightweight parchment. It’s theorized that they may have been prototypes and intended to be cast in bronze, but because of the 1929 crash on Wall Street were never executed.

The focal point of the Great Dinning Hall is the massive 20 foot fireplace. Built out of 200 tons of rounded Lake Superior stones, it is said to be the largest native rock fireplace in the state.

A few pieces of the original furniture remain. Sherry especially loved the pink glow of the circular sofa.

Original Dining Hall furniture was carved with stylized Ojibwe motifs. We discovered this pattern on the original buffet table.

Overlooking the Great Dining Hall is Naniboujou himself … the great deity of nature and the outdoors. He was a forest spirit and trickster born of the wind and a human mother. In both the Cree and Ojibwe cultures, Naniboujou fueled great myths … it was he who dug Lake Superior, created the Cree people, invented the raspberry and made the blueberry grow in marshy places.

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