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Phone: (218)663-7150
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Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: March 2008
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « February 2008 | April 2008 »

3/27/08 -
Yesterday, our neighbor up on the Gunflint Trail, Hungry Jack Lodge, had a catastrophic fire. Despite the best efforts of the outstanding Gunflint Trail Fire Department, the main lodge building was a total loss. This is the third time the lodge building has burned, first in 1931, then again in 1972, and now 2008.

Hungry Jack Lodge has a rich history in the area and a direct connection to Sawbill Lodge, our former next door neighbor who went out of business in the '80s. After the 1931 Hungry Jack fire, a teenager from Chicago, Wilson "Nibs" Arbogust, was hired by the owners to help clean up and reconstruct the lodge building. Although he didn't actually do any of the log work, Nibs studied the techniques and practiced on his own. On a visit home in January of 1932, Nibs raised the idea with his father, step-mother and siblings that they should start a wilderness lodge in the style of Hungry Jack.

To make a long story short, they did carve Sawbill Lodge out of the wilderness with many, many great stories created and it eventually became one of the premiere resorts in Minnesota. Sawbill Lodge opted to go out of business when the BWCA Wilderness Act was passed in 1978. The Forest Service paid them for the property and returned it to nature. The Sawbill Lodge building was moved to Solbakken Resort in Lutsen where it can be visited today.

Our sympathy and best wishes go out to Forest Parson and his staff for their loss. - Bill

3/20/08 - In our continuing coverage of cute kids born to former Sawbill crew members, today's feature is Natasha Warner (aka Tasha B A), her husband, Ray White, and daughters Willow (3) and Olive (1). Natasha settled in the nearby town of Grand Marais after working at Sawbill. -

Ray, Natasha, and future canoeists Willow and Olive relaxing at home.

3/17/08 - Winter continues here at Sawbill with deep snow, cold nights and frosty mornings. It's hard to imagine that summer is coming with it's deep green foliage and water warm enough to swim. Now is a good time to be planning your wilderness canoe trips and think about reserving an entry permit. Almost all entry dates are still open for the season, so you can choose your favorite route. You can check permit availability (and make a reservation) by following the links below.

Sawbill Lake #38
Kawishiwi Lake #37
Hog Creek #36
Baker Lake #39
Homer Lake #40
Brule Lake #41
Brule Lake Only #41A
All other entry points

Temperatures swing widely at this time of year. When the conditions are right, every twig and branch is coated with a rime of frost.

Sawbill Lake looks frosty and cold, but soon will start it's transition to blue and liquid.

Phoebe, Chief of Outfitter Security, (left) with her deputies, Homer and Roy, on lake patrol.

3/6/08 - This is a little bit off subject, but the local Grand Marais Jazz Festival is shaping up to be a very interesting and enjoyable event this year. There will be great jazz performances scattered around the area on the weekend of the fishing opener. Fishing during the day and listening to live jazz at night - sounds good to me! - Bill


3/3/08 - We experienced a natural phenomenon yesterday that is unique to our 51 years at Sawbill. From late afternoon through the night, the trees were making strange popping noises. It was a spooky, hard to describe sound that sounded like people tapping on tree trunks with resonant sticks. With some quite close and the rest fading into the distance, the sound was nearly continuous. The air was perfectly still and combined with a star filled sky, it gave one a profound sense of the forest as a living organism.

My best guess is that some sap started to flow during the last couple of warm days. Last night the temperature quickly dropped to about ten below, causing the trees to refreeze and make the popping sound. On the mysterious side, we've seen sudden temperature drops many times in March and have never heard this before. Also, it was a much quieter, mellow sound than the cracking that trees do during extreme cold snaps in December and January. - Bill

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