International Falls

We came here because there was a National Park I wanted to visit, mainly because it was out of the way and relatively new (1975), Voyageurs.

I’d read a little about it, mainly concerning the timber wolves that roam the park’s islands and peninsula.  I wasn’t prepared for the stunning beauty and the history associated with this area.

Let’s backtrack a bit…our previous stop was in Bemidji.  Our original intention was to stay at Lake Bemidji State Park.  When we got there, the park was mostly full with a few back-in spots open.  After trying to pick a spot, we gave up.  My backing skills are not fully developed…I’m still like one of those immature birds that can’t quite fly yet.  The only option open was a night at the local KOA.  It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great.  Since we were here early enough in the day to explore a little bit, we drove down to Lake Itasca…the headwaters of the Mississippi.

Here’s a little side note for my family…it was 51 years ago…probably close to this week, we camped at Lake Itasca when my sister was a few weeks old.  I distinctly remember walking across the Mississippi on a few rocks.  It’s still there, the campground appears as I remember it, and the river crossing is the same…there’s just a bunch more stupid people around.

I remember exploring with my cousin Jerry while my dad and Uncle Wayne fished (it may have been the only time my dad fished).

We spent only the night in Bemidji, moving the next day to International Falls, still retracing my family’s steps from over 50 years past.  Before leaving Bemidji, we shopped at one of the great local grocery stores in the known universe…Luekens Village Foods.

It was like a step down from Dragers in the SF area, but far ahead of anything one would expect in the backwoods of the mid-west.

We’re now on our second night in a little family owned RV park in Intl Falls, Arnolds.

Can’t beat $17 a night.  We were able to take two boat tours in the National Park today, which is the only way you can see this place…it’s basically all water and islands.  The first was an Eagle tour on which we were able to spot 7 bald eagles, 5 adults and two babies.

They were all just sitting around…none flew or fished while we watched.  The babies are huge, appearing to be the same size as the adults.

Our second cruise was called Discovery and it covered more of the cultural and historical aspects of the park including why the boundary between Canada and the US meanders through this waterway.

Tomorrow we’re paddling a canoe with eight other folks recreating the route of the Voyageurs for which the park is named.  Should be very interesting.  Then it’s on to Duluth.

While we were here, a serendipitous genealogical find…I think I solved a question about Donna’s family.  My friend Linda DeLong at the HCHS and I have been trying to work this out for months.  The guy I was trying to place in line lived and died in this county, Koochiching (what a great name for a county).

Yesterday we stopped by the courthouse and the library, found the death note and obit and discovered his mother’s name, which is different than the mother for the rest of the family.

I’ve a little more research to complete while we’re in New York, but I think we’re beginning to track this question’s answer.  I let you know later.

3 Responses to “International Falls”
  1. Linda DeLong 24 July 2010 at 9:00 am #

    I am so jealous. Love all the photos and the captions. I would love to watch you try to back your trailer into a camp site. That would be very entertaining.Did you find out why the name of the county is Koochiching? You were fortunate to find that obit, now maybe we can figure out how it all fits.You are so lucky
    Great looking socks,Donna. You do beautiful work. Enjoy your canoe ride.

  2. durry 24 July 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    I’m getting better at backing…I think of it as a process. I’m certainly not going to get any worse. Koochiching apparently applies to the area…Creek or Ojibway for area of inlets. You’ll see why by looking at the pictures of the Natl Park. The obits were certainly helpful, but the index for the death cert was the real find…he listed his mother as Mary Chamberlain…not the Sarah McKee who was the mom of the other kids. Just as we figured, old George married earlier and had to off load the kid. Since they all came from NY, I’ve now got some good research to do in NYC. More later on the canoe trip…Donna’s got some pictures up.

  3. Mel 27 July 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    When you talked to Mom did you talk to her about where you were camping? The story I’ve heard was that I was about 6 weeks old. Can’t imagine camping with an infant that small. Our parents were nuts!

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