Historic bear and voyageur-with-canoe signs removed for restoration
The historic bear and voyageur-with-canoe signs announcing the start of the Gunflint Trail have seen better days, but they will be getting a facelift this summer. They were removed from their post on the stone wall at the library on Friday, May 24.
John Schloot of Cross River Lodge near the end of the Gunflint Trail has been working for months on a campaign to restore the signs.
According to County Commissioner Garry Gamble, the stonewalls holding up the signs at the bottom of Second Avenue West in downtown Grand Marais are believed to have been built by the Works Progress Administration in 1938.
The cost of the project is expected to be $7,500. The Gunflint Trail Historical Society began a fundraising campaign last fall and is contributing $3,500 toward the cost. The Cook County Historical Society, also recognizing the historical significance of the signs, is contributing $1,500. The Grand Marais City Council and the Cook County Board of Commissioners each voted to contribute $1,500, leaving the project with an extra $500 for unexpected costs that might arise.
Yarrow Korf, one of three bidders on the project, will be doing the work in his shop on the Gunflint Trail, where he will apply paint with heat, making the signs more durable. The metal voyageur sign will be sanded twice and receive two coats of primer, three coats of paint, and two coats of ultraviolet protectant.
The bear sign is a replacement for the metal original that is on display at The Garage in downtown Grand Marais. On May 2, 2013, Commissioner Gamble said he wanted to explore the possibility of going back to having a metal bear sign alongside the metal voyageur sign. “It would look better, it would last longer, it would be a better investment,” he said.
As of press time, neither Schloot nor Gamble knew what the condition of the old metal bear sign was or the possibility of obtaining it from The Garage, owned by Jill Terrill. Commissioner Gamble said having a new metal sign built would be more expensive than having a new wood sign built, which is the current plan, but he didn’t count it out of the realm of possibility.
“Garry has been a tremendous help getting this through,” Schloot said.
The City of Grand Marais helped take the old signs down on Friday, May 24 and Gunflint Excavating, owned by Dave Tuttle, took them to Korf’s shop.
Schloot hoped the refurbished signs would be back up in time for Fisherman’s Picnic the first weekend in August.