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Starting the day in Canada!
International Day Great River Road.
Started the day in Canada. Had dinner overlooking Rainy Lake last night and today have a day of sightseeing and travel planned (of course)! So it is International Day Great River Road. After leaving Canada, stopped at the Bronko Nagurski/Koochiching County Museum. Went on to Voyageurs National Park. Then…. a lot of driving through a lot of trees and rivers.
First stop was the museum. Here’s a link to the museum page. Here is a link into the museum page showing a statue of Bronko outside the building. (No picture-taking was allowed in the museum.) Many won’t recognize the name unless you are NFL fans and know some of the histories. He is from International Falls and remained there except when he was playing football and wrestling. Bronko starred at the University of Minnesota in the late 1920’s. He was a consensus All American in 1928. Many said he was the best player of his time. In those days, there weren’t really offensive players and defensive players. Mostly played both offense and defense in college and in the NFL.
Bronko played defensive tackle and both fullback and tackle on offense. At 6’2 and 235 he was one the largest players in the league and many said the strongest. Since the NFL wasn’t anything like it was today, he didn’t want to play immediately after college. However, the Chicago Bears offered him a staggering $5,000 to play for them. His days with the Chicago Bears in the 1930’s and coming out of retirement for 1943 were marked with division and league championships. He was one of the players who gave the Bears the nickname “Monsters of the Midway”.
After athletic career
Bronko was also in the inaugural class inducted into NFL Hall of Fame and is also in the Collegiate Hall of Fame. Interestingly, he was in the inaugural class in that HOF as well. Here is a link to a Wikipedia article as it makes for interesting reading. In 1993, he was ranked 35th on the list of all-time 100 best NFL players.
As did many NFL players of his day, he also wrestled professionally from 1933 until 1960. While wrestling wasn’t as dramatic as they make it today, it was likely still pre-determined who would win many of the matches! During time off from wrestling and football off-season, he always returned to International Falls where he eventually owned a service station.
Voyageurs National Park
The park is only 10 miles from International Falls. Much of it is on islands in Rainy Lake and other lakes along the Rainy River. Beautiful scenery.
Voyageurs National Park is a great place for visit for boating, camping, hiking, and fishing. In addition, the park provides guided tours and winter recreation. It is not nearly as visited as the more popular parks, with annual visits of about 237,000 compared to Great Smoky Mountains (11,388,000), Grand Canyon (6,254,000) and Zion (4,504,000). Five of the top six ranked by visits are in the west. The eastern parks in the top 10 get high numbers of visitors because of the population density on the East Coast. If you want to see more information about National Parks, click here.
The road from Fort Frances
This road is “less than exciting”. Here’s a link to it. (You probably don’t want to watch the full video!) Although the road is long and lonely, glad I made the trip. International Falls and Voyageurs National Park made it worthwhile, in spite of the long, boring drive. That’s much of International Day Great River Road.
Deerwood to Baxter MN
After getting off the road from Fort Frances, drove to Baxter MN. Here are some pictures of the river along the way. There is also a video of a surprising drive into Schoolcraft State Park.
But it still isn’t as large as it is down the river in Natchez MS.
River at Natchez MS
Schoolcraft State Park
The park is named after Henry Schoolcraft who discovered the source of the Mississippi.
The remainder of the drive contains very similar views and a number of miles away from the river, just like the rest of the road, not always as near the river as one would want.
That’s it for the International Day Great River Road. Catch me for Day 6.
The Driveby Tourist