Imagine a round of golf with Babe Ruth or shaking hands with Jack Dempsey or simply dining on Lake Superior with any on a list of who’s who of the 1920s. That was the vision of wealthy Duluth businessmen for their 3,300-acre Naniboujou resort near Grand Marais on the picturesque North Shore Highway. The clubhouse of Naniboujou and its eclectic blend of colorful Native American and Art Deco design was completed in the summer of 1929.
“Naniboujou” is the trickster hero of traditional Anishinaabe beliefs. Whether it was that old trickster at play or terrible timing, the dream of an exclusive resort at the remote tip of Minnesota’s arrowhead was cut short. The Great Depression struck three months after it opened and by 1935 the resort succumbed to bankruptcy.
That original clubhouse with its strikingly colorful dining hall, 20-foot native rock fireplace and modernized lodgings are what today is the Naniboujou Lodge & Restaurant. Although it has witnessed several owners and many changes over its 90-year history, current proprietors provide visitors a taste of what might have been.
Nearby on Highway 61 in what was once part of the expansive Naniboujou property, stands Judge C.R. Magney State Park. The park is home of the famous Devil’s Kettle waterfall of the Brule River and it is named for the Duluth native who was instrumental in preserving 11 state parks and waysides along the North Shore.
Most Minnesota resorts such as Naniboujou (as well as our 67 state parks) are in proximity to renewable-based refueling. Minnesota is already home to 400 plus retail stations offering flex fuels for all us FFV drivers, while everyone else can get unleaded 88/E15 at over 300 sites throughout the state. Is it possible in a few far reaches to be forced to refill with “only” E10? Maybe, but you’d have to forget to plan ahead or fuel up when leaving the main road.
So head ‘up north’ this summer and plan on getting there on a renewable-based, Minnesota-grown fuel while checking out one of our hundreds of resort gems. If you find yourself at the North Shore’s Naniboujou, catch a sun rise over Lake Superior and imagine that glorious summer of ‘29. And if you see The Babe out on the course, please get his autograph for me.