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schroeder / Tofte

Schroeder and Tofte are side-by-side small towns. In 1895 the Schroeder Lumber Company settled on the Cross River, cutting trees, shooting logs down the river and rafting them to Duluth and Ashland, WI. Meanwhile just up the road in 1893, twin brother John and Andrew Tofte and brothers Torger and Hans Engelson arrived from Norway and settled down to commercial fish.

Both towns are clustered along Highway 61 with Temperance River State Park in between, connected by the bike trail, and bisected by backcountry roads ideal for a driving forest tour, a way to inland camping, boating, and berry picking, and nice fall color tours.

Mileage starts at the Duluth Lift Bridge

mile 73.3

Take a leg-stretcher along the 1-mile interpretive nature trail that departs from the parking area and includes a stop at Sugarloaf Cove on Lake Superior. The Interpretive Center has exhibits and artifacts from early logging operations in the area.

mile 75

For thirty-one years Taconite Harbor was home to families working the adjacent Erie Mining loading dock and power plant. When mining took a downturn in the 1980s, the company cleared the town for a new venture. Follow the road south of Highway 61. On the right you will see the remnants of main street,  including a few street lights and the basketball court. The end of the road takes you to an outdoor exhibit explaining the taconite operation, a public boat launch, safe harbor, and views of the rusting ore docks.

mile 78.7

From 1929 roadhouse, to manifestations as a general store gas station, post office, and sausage market, the Cross River Heritage Center now houses historical exhibits, a gift shop and visitor information, and many wonderful photos and details of logging in the area. One of the original Stickney Inn rooms has been preserved and is open to the public, too.

mile 78.8

Highway 61 spans the Cross River mid-waterfalls. While the drive-by view is nice, stop and walk the pedestrian bridge, an ideal vantage point for photos. Back in the day, the John Schroeder Lumber Company would dam the headwaters of the Cross River until spring, then shoot logs downriver to Lake Superior, where they were bound into rafts and floated over to Ashland and Superior, Wisconsin.

mile 80.4

Amazing river gorges that start a few feet inland from the highway, waterfalls, two foot-bridges, hiking, a cobblestone river mouth, camping and hiking. Hike a short way upriver to the amazing gorges, then return south of the highway and walk across the foot-bridge. During spring runoff or after rainy days, the river spray will mist you. Back in the day, this was the only river without a [sand] bar at the mouth, hence the name, Temperance.

mile 80.4

Heartbreak Ridge is a top-notch fall color drive, and lovely drive through the woods any other time of year. Drive north on the Temperance River Road for 5.1 miles, then head east on the Six Hundred Rd [you’re on Heartbreak Ridge] 4.9 miles. Stop at the roadside sign and see how the ridge got its name. Return 5.5 miles down the Sawbill Trail to Tofte.

mile 81.8

Get info about everything to do in the woods at the Tofte Ranger Station. Get permits and maps, ask about camping and trails, find out where inland lakes are located, see if any berries are in season, and ask about that bird you saw on the way by.

mile 82.4

Donated by the eldest daughter, Elizabeth, of original European settlers John and Cecilia Tofte, Tofte Park features two cobblestone bridges and a cobblestone wishing well plus a picnic site and open shelter. Have a picnic, listen to the lake, hangout. Available for rental for weddings, reunions, gatherings.

mile 83.3

And how did they do it 100 years ago? Learn about commercial fishing, past and present, at the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum, where many artifacts from families’ of the original Scandinavian settlers are on display. Continue your education via plaques along the the lakewalk edging Bluefin Bay.

Schroeder / Tofte

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