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International Falls in Koochiching County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Steamboats on the Rainy River / Welcome to Minnesota

 
 
Steamboats on the Rainy River / Welcome to Minnesota Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Liz Koele, May 25, 2022
1. Steamboats on the Rainy River / Welcome to Minnesota Marker
Inscription.  

Steamboats on the Rainy River
As a part of the fabled “Voyageurs’ Highway” of rivers and lakes, Rainy Lake and the Rainy River saw a traffic of fur trade canoes for nearly two centuries before the first steamer, the Louise Thompson, was put into service in 1875. Her mission was to help build a canal and locks at Koochiching Falls, connecting the lake and the river and encouraging the movement of Canadian homesteaders into the area around Fort Frances, Ontario. Work on the canal was soon abandoned, however, when the development of the Canadian Pacific Railroad bypassed Fort Frances and opened more desirable frontier areas further west.

Steamer traffic on the 90 miles of river “highway” from Fort Frances to Rat Portage (later Kenora) on Lake of the Woods boomed with the area’s settlement in the 1890s. During 1894 a total of 27 steamers and 29 barges carried a total of 2,100 tons of freight and 20,086 passengers on the lake and river system.

The big boat news of 1897 was the maiden voyage of a new steel steamer, the Keenora, hailed as a “floating palace” with electric lights and accommodations
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for 200 passengers. The editor of the local newspaper confidently expected that such a “first class steamer would result in summer resorts” on both sides of the Rainy River.

Steamer traffic declined in the 1900s with the arrival of railroad service. By the time the expected summer resorts were a reality, the steamers that had carried excited passengers on delightful summer excursions were gone.

Welcome to Minnesota
Known to her citizens as the North Star State or the Gopher State, Minnesota has never claimed to be the Land of the Giants. But two famous American giants do hail from Minnesota. The giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan cut the pine forests to the north that helped build America’s towns and cities, and the Jolly Green Giant towers over the south’s lush corn, vegetable, and soybean fields, a part of the midwest’s fertile farm belt.

Like its neighbors, the thirty-second state grew as a collection of small farm communities, many settled by immigrants from Scandinavia and Germany. Two of the nation’s favorite fictional small towns - - Sinclair Lewis’s Gopher Prairie and Garrison Kellor’s Lake Wobegon - - reflect that heritage. But the vast forests, the huge open pit iron ore mines, and the busy shipping lanes of Lake Superior attracted different settlers with different skills and made Minnesota a state of surprising diversity.

Best
Steamboats on the Rainy River / Welcome to Minnesota Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Liz Koele, May 25, 2022
2. Steamboats on the Rainy River / Welcome to Minnesota Marker
known for its 15,000 lakes, Minnesota has some 65 towns with the word “lake” in their names, not counting those whose names mean “lake” or “water” in the Chippewa or Dakota Indian languages. There are also 13 “falls”, 10 “rivers”, 5 “Rapids”, and a smattering of “isles”, “bays”, and “beaches”. Even the state name itself means “sky colored water” in Dakota. The mighty Mississippi River starts as a small stream flowing out of Minnesota’s Lake Itasca, and a Minneapolis waterfall called Minnehaha inspired “The Song of Hiawatha”, even though Longfellow never actually visited the falls his poem made known to every schoolchild.

Minnesotans are proud of their state’s natural beauty and are leaders in resource conservation and concern for the quality of life.
 
Erected 1991 by Minnesota Historical Society.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1875.
 
Location. 48° 36.116′ N, 93° 24.143′ W. Marker is in International Falls, Minnesota, in Koochiching County. Marker is on 2nd Ave (U.S. 53), on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 200 4th St, International Falls MN 56649, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within 5 kilometers of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Route of the Voyageurs (approx.
Steamboats on the Rainy River / Welcome to Minnesota Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Liz Koele, May 25, 2022
3. Steamboats on the Rainy River / Welcome to Minnesota Marker
0.3 miles away); The North West Mounted Police on the Dawson Route (approx. 1.3 miles away in Canada); Calder History (approx. 3.6 kilometers away in Canada); Sieur De La Vérendrye (1685- 1749) (approx. 3.6 kilometers away in Canada); Robert J. N. Pither (1824 - 1918) (approx. 3.7 kilometers away in Canada).
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 1, 2022. It was originally submitted on September 30, 2022, by Liz Koele of St. Paul, Minnesota. This page has been viewed 194 times since then and 70 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 30, 2022, by Liz Koele of St. Paul, Minnesota. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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Jul. 20, 2024