Boundary Waters Maps

There’s something about Boundary Waters maps that I just love.  I can spend hours looking at the names of the lakes, the BWCA routes I’ve taken or planning a route for my next Boundary Waters canoe trip.

When we first started outfitting canoe camping trips into the Boundary Waters in 1993 there was one primary map company. That company is Fisher Maps and we still use them the majority of the time.  There are also McKenzie maps, Voyageur maps and National Geographic Maps of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

I happened to come across a Corps of Engineer Map of the Boundary Waters from 1951.  The printed cost on the map said .15 cents but it was crossed out and below it .25 cents was written.  Quite a leap in prices for Boundary Waters maps over the years considering we charge between $8-$11 a map depending upon the type.  What interested me more than the cost of the map was the different lake names.

I don’t know how or who named all of the lakes in the Boundary Waters nor do I know when. I do know in my plus 20 years of outfitting canoe camping trips only one lake name has been changed.  The lake is a long portage off of Seagull and it was called Jap Lake. This is an acronym for James & Ann Paulson(early residents of the Gunflint Trail)  but some thought it was a racial thing so the name was changed to Paulson Lake sometime after the year 2000 I think.

Other BWCA lake names were changed from 1951 to 1973 as shown on a couple of the BWCA maps I was browsing at.

  • Ottertrack was Cypress
  • Ashdick was Caribou
  • Zephyr was Wind

Other differences on the Boundary Waters maps I have noted is Munker Island on Saganaga Lake used to be Monker Island and American Point used to have a Rocky Point which is now generically referred to on most maps as just American Point.  I’m sure if I looked I’d notice other name changes as well.

If anyone has any old Boundary Waters maps they want to send my way then please feel free to do so I know I’d enjoy looking at them!