Celebrating 75 Years- The Gunflint Trail Association


     On Monday, October 11th the Gunflint Trail Association celebrated 75 years of businesses working together.  The annual meeting and celebration was held at Hungry Jack Lodge which is kind of funny since they aren’t always supporters or members of the Gunflint Trail Associaion; I guess that’s Minnesota nice.  In any case, I missed the party and reminiscing due to Josh’s football game but I’m guessing it was a grand time.

From the Gunflint Trail Association Website:

Believed to be one of the oldest tourism associations in Minnesota, the Gunflint Trail Association is celebrating 75 years. The organization was created as a business activist group to bring utilities including telephone and electrical power “up” the Gunflint Trail. A cohesive, cooperative group of businesses was established in 1936 which recognized the benefits of working together, rather than feuding over such things as signs.Stories from the early days tell of Gunflint Trail Association members stringing telephone wire over tree branches themselves, just to keep up with the then-modern technology. The organization remains active today in marketing and providing a unified voice of tourism in northeastern Minnesota.

The organization did go through some transitional times. Once electric power, telephone and mail service was established on the Gunflint Trail, and disputes over business signage settled (a story in itself), the organization became more or less a “social” group, although it did publish a Gunflint Trail brochure. Then, in the late 1980s, after the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978 resulted in a reduction of businesses on the Gunflint Trail (and reduced collected advertising), the organization re-grouped and focused on aggressive marketing. It was the first organization in Minnesota to use incoming toll-free telephone service, and it began publishing a brochure unlike any others at the time. Each individual business on the Gunflint Trail was given a full page of copy – innovative for the 1980s. A few years later it was one of the first organizations to launch a tourism association website – with each business having its own web page.