I wonder what it would have been like to travel on a train from Thunder Bay, Canada to Gunflint Lake? Passing by lakes underneath towering pines through a vast wilderness for over 80 miles sounds like a great trip to me. Little sign remains of the railway that once dotted the shoreline of North and Gunflint Lakes.
Construction of the railway by Port Arthur, Duluth and Western (P.A.D.&W) began in the fall of 1889 and the railway officially opened on June 1st, 1893. The railway was first used to reach an iron ore mine and later used for logging purposes. Some history about the railway can be found on this website as well as some photos. Trestles were built along the railway and one on the south side of Gunflint Lake was still used by snowmobilers up until last winter.
The Ham Lake Fire made it’s way to the trestle last May and there it has continued to burn and smolder ever since. The USFS kept an eye on the trestle over the summer and continued to monitor it throughout the winter. It was their hope the fire would be put out by the winter snow but this was not the case. Puffs of smoke would rise from the trestle every so often and even flames could sometimes be seen.
In order to put the Ham Lake Fire out the USFS decided they must take action. On March 26th Forest Service workers blasted the trestle in hopes of extinguishing the fire. I haven’t heard how the operation fared or if what remains of the trestle is still smoldering. One thing I do know is the trestle that once was is now no more.