The Long Way Home 4.15.22--Change

I can state without fear of contradiction, the more things change, the more things change.

Recently there was a minor social media kerfuffle here about the Jim Scott Fish House on Grand Marais’ harbor. It is registered as a national historical site and sits on property that the North House Folk School acquired a few years ago. It’s basically used for storage, and alongside a steel sided fish processing building, it stands in the way of a planned classroom building the school wants on the site. It became an issue as the City of Grand Marais was considering a variance request of harbor setback regulations for the new building. 

The school does not intend to destroy the Scott building, but wishes to move it to a new location and preserve it as best as they can. The kerfuffle was between those wanting the Scott building to stay where it is (and be preserved) and those who want the school to follow its plan to move it, preserve it, and build more classroom space.

My friend Kay always said that nothing stays the same, except rocks. Yet we humans seem to rebel against changes, whether the change is for good or ill. 

When we returned to Grand Marais after an absence of 17 years there were many changes to get used to. Although the overall population was about the same, the demographics had changed. Fewer loggers and commercial fishermen. Substantial growth in employment in health care, schools and local governments. More non-profits than one can shake a stick at. 

One of the reasons we moved to Grand Marais in 1995 was that it reminded me of my childhood days in Crosslake, MN. I have fond memories of learning how to troll for northerns. Cast for bass. Sit with grandad on a dock at the east end of Fawn Lake and catch panfish with a cane pole. And of getting lost in the woods behind the Fernlund Farm.

Mom’s family owned The Everglades Resort on the east end of Rush Lake on the Whitefish Chain, just across the road from Moonlite Bay, in the 30s and 40s (before my time). With a house and seven cabins it kept the Young family busy all season. Guests would arrive in Brainerd by train and Grandpa would drive the 50 mile round trip to gather them up. 

A quick look at the satellite image on Google Maps shows the area that was the resort has about a dozen year round houses, paved cul-de-sacs and driveways, and what looks to be some solid SUVs.

When I was a kid, most of the lakeshore cabins around Crosslake were seasonal. Roads were gravel and narrow and the tourist season ran from fishing opener to Labor Day, when quiet descended and you mostly saw only people you knew. Like Cook County in 1995.

I was here in 1997 when North House got its start in a couple of old garages that had been used by the USFS on property that the city donated. I’m not sure anyone envisioned how successful the school would be. But it has, for better and worse, changed the complexion of Cook County. People who came for the classes fell in love with the area and many moved here. Interns and instructors did the same. And the lodging, dining and retail revenue North House visitors brought in have been a boon to some local businesses and tax coffers.

I spent many summer days and school holidays there in the woods around Crosslake. But what I call the suburbanization of the area has left me with no desire to go there again. 

Too many changes.