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Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: August 2003
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « July 2003 | September 2003 »
8/31/03- Longtime Sawbill campers, Ted Heinonen and George Domstrand, discovered a small but tenacious forest fire near campsite #5 this morning. Several cedar trees were burning from the inside out. Ted, George and several Sawbill crew members poured buckets of water on the trees to keep the fires under control until the Forest Service fire-fighters arrived to extinguish the blaze. The two person professional fire fighting crew took almost five hours to get the job done. They pumped thousands of gallons of water onto (and into) the trees in an attempt to save them, but ultimately had to cut three of them down.

UPDATE: Forest Service firefighters report that they found no evidence of a campfire at the scene of the fire. They suspect lightning as the cause of the fire, although none of the affected trees bear the characteristic burn mark of a fire strike. We haven't had any lightning here for several days, so if lightning did cause the fire, the trees have been smoldering on the inside for quite a long time. The true cause of the fire will probably remain a mystery.


A large tree smolders (left) . Sawbill crew members Lida Storch and Jeff Green help keep the fire under control (right).

8/30/03- Labor day weekend is in full swing today-- lots of campers, canoeists and musicians are up at Sawbill celebrating one last hurrah before the end of summer. -Ruthie

8/25/03 - Hanna Emerson sent us this email today:

I am sending you a picture of a mama moose which kept us company on Vernon.  She showed up with her calf at 8:20 in the morning and left around 6:00 p.m. in the evening. Without paying any attention to us she kept eating in the little bay next to the campsite.  We took a day trip and found her in the same bay upon our return.  She also gave us the opportunity to listen to her voice!

Hanna Emerson

Moose on Vernon Lake.

8/24/03 - Driving home from Tofte recently, we encountered this lone wolf along the road. Cindy has seen it several times. It has a pronounced limp in its front leg and is fairly tolerant to being stared at and even photographed. - Bill

Even a fuzzy night-time photo shows the long limbs and lean build of the timber wolf.

8/21/03 - A wild storm dropped 2.03" of well needed rain last night. There was almost continuous lightning for several hours, but none of it was very close to Sawbill. Lake and stream levels will be rising quickly throughout the day today. You can almost feel the trees sucking up the moisture that they have been craving for the last couple of weeks.

Jack Brennigan and his group from Wisconsin are frequent visitors to the Sawbill campground. They are greatly feared by the fish in Sawbill and Alton Lakes. This week they brought a friend, Jerry Bella, for his first visit to Sawbill and also his first fishing trip. Jerry surprised everyone by showing great fishing aptitude. - Bill

Jerry Bella, from Berlin, Wisconsin, proudly shows the 3.5 lb definition of beginner's luck.

8/20/03 - The Forest Service has announced that as of midnight on Thursday August 21st, no open fires will be allowed in the Designated Blowdown Area of the BWCAW. Camp stoves will still be allowed in this area. The Designated Blowdown Area includes Sawbill Lake (the campground here at Sawbill is not included in that area, however) and areas north and east of Sawbill. A map of the restricted area is available on the Superior National Forest website at The fire ban is a result of very dry conditions in the area.

8/18/03 - We were surprised to see a young lady walk into the store yesterday wearing a "powder blue" Sawbill sweatshirt. It was a model that we sold in the early '70s. It was still in perfect condition. She had borrowed it from her dad, Mark Pirazzini, who was a frequent camper here back in the day.

Kaia Pirazzini models her dad's vintage Sawbill sweatshirt.

8/17/03 - Fred Siebenmann was here recently for his annual canoe trip. Fred took his first trip in 1963 when John Kennedy was President. Fred's son, Fred, has made almost every trip since that time with a few years off for duty in Vietnam. Both Siebemanns are very active mountain climbers, hikers, rafters and fisherman. We recognized Fred's love of wilderness with a gift of a sweatshirt that celebrates the creation of the National Wilderness System in 1964.

Fred Siebenmann on his 40th visit to Sawbill.

8/16/03 - We've had a spell of hot days this week - yesterday it was 94 degrees here. There's a definite change in the air and the heat has dried out - no steamy, sticky days like July. Sandals are a necessity in this kind of weather and not only keeps you cooler, but paints a picture of your day on your feet. The dust on your ankles from the canoe yard, the mud on the soles from washing packs, the purple blotches on your toes from standing in the blueberry patch...and then at the end of a long, hot day, you can take a dive into the coolness of the lake and let the day just float away, forget your weariness, and clean your feet off to start fresh tomorrow. -Beth

8/13/03 - The warm, sunny days continue and the last few nights have had a cool crispness to them, bringing thoughts of fall. Lots of activity going on at Sawbill lately. We rounded up the whole crew one day long enough to snap the annual crew picture. A few days later we shined up our dancing shoes for the Dome Dance. We had our first departure of a crew member - long time Sawbillian Max Wilson headed to D.C. to begin law school. The ladies of Sawbill got dressed up and headed out for a night on the town. And the biggest news is that long time crew member Nathan TerBeest (son of campground hosts Jim and Rachel) proposed to his girlfriend Belinda a few days ago - she said yes! In between all that fun we've managed to fit in a little work as well....

Sawbill Crew 2003 - If the dogs can make it with one eye, we can too...Kicking up our heels at the Dome Dance.

A lovely night out for the lovely ladies of Sawbill. Nathan and Belinda, he newly engaged couple, celebrating the happy news.

8/3/03 - Jo and Bill Koski, campground hosts at the Crescent Lake campground, sighted a mountain lion on their way over to Sawbill today. They got a long, close look at it while it stood in the road just a few hundred feet in front of them. Jo tried to get her camera out, but couldn't do it in time. Mountain lions are not native to Minnesota, but are highly nomadic and occasionally pass through. - Bill
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « July 2003 | September 2003 »


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