When we signed into our campground in Bemidji, Vicki grabbed a handful of brochures for local attractions we might be interested in. One of these was for the Rapid River Logging Camp in Park Rapids, a little town about an hour south of Bemidji. The brochure went something like this: "Trade an hour of your life today for an hour of life in the 19th century. See the logs being floated and hear the sounds of the sawmill." Then it goes on to talk about how the logging camps with the best food attracted the best lumberjacks and blah, blah, blah… "come and eat at our logging camp cookhouse, all-you-can-eat always served family style." So I had visions of a working logging operation with people in period costumes and a waterpowered sawmill, etc.
|A couple of old buildings and the cook shack.|
In the Chippewa National Forest sits one of the few remaining CCC sites, Camp Rabideau. Most of these camps were either torn down or left to rot when the program ended in 1942. The buildings were all prefabricated so that they could be put up quickly when the camp was established and were built on posts, like a backyard deck instead of any kind of solid foundation. They were never really intended
|Vicki lined up for chow|
The camp was set up like an old-style military camp (probably because it was run by the Army) with workers barracks, officers quarters, a community mess hall and a small "hospital" which was really more of a dispensary since anyone who became significantly ill got shipped to the Army base at St. Paul. There are only about four buildings you can actually go into, but we visited the mess hall and the hospital and roamed the grounds for a couple of hours.
|Rest house at Scenic State Park|
|Interior. Note scrap wood furniture|
One of the things that we noticed in Minnesota was a dearth of visible wildlife. After spending hours driving through heavily wooded "scenic byways" and "wilderness" after five days we had not seen anything bigger than a squirrel. Finally on Saturday we saw a deer. Unfortunately, it was lying dead by the side of the road and was being picked over by several birds, one of which looked like this.
As we drove by, he flew up into a tree and watched us. We pulled off about 30 yards down the road and got our cameras out. After a few minutes, he got impatient and made a couple of swooping passes at us, possibly hoping he could scare us off. When we didn't budge, he gave up and flapped away over the trees and out of sight.
Our last day in the Bemidji area we drove to "Big Bog", the largest peat bog in the United States. We hiked out onto the bog on a raised walkway. You are not allowed to leave the walkway and the vegetation was so dense we couldn't see more than about 3 feet on either side. Vicki thought it was fascinating, but I do not particularly recommend hiking the Big Bog. It's full of Big Bugs. However, on the drive back, I got this picture so it was at least somewhat worthwhile.
|Barn and mustard field|