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History of Voyageurs

Lakeside Cliffs at Grassy Bay / Public Domain / NPS / Ed Lombard


Voyageurs National Park is located along the U.S. / Canadian border in Minnesota.  Originally envisioned in 1891, it would not become a national park until 1971 with President Richard Nixon's signature.  Named for the French Fur Trappers of the 1600-1700's, Voyageurs National Park consists of four large lakes (Rainy Lake, Namakan Lake, Sand Point Lake and Kabetogama Lake) plus 26 smaller interior lakes.  In total, Voyageurs NP consists of 218,054 acres, but only 120,000 acres of non-contiguous land.  For most of the year, boats, kayaks and canoes provide the best transportation between areas in the park.  In the winter, visitors snowmobile (only on designated trails), ski, snowshoe and drive on the frozen lakes.

As the fur trade gradually ended, commercial logging and fishing began in the late 1800's and lasted well into the 1900's.  From 1893-1898, on a small island in Rainy Lake there was a small gold rush. However, the mine was quickly played out and the small boom town of Rainy Lake City died away. Tourism began to play a part as over 50 resorts were built in the area with numerous private homes.  Much of that land, held by over 200 people, was sold for the park opening by 1975.. 

Today's Summer visitors come to fish, hike on over 27 miles of trails, camp, swim and sight-see by motor boat, kayak, canoe or houseboats.  Winter visitors arrive to  ice fish, snowshoe, cross-country ski and snowmobile on over 110 miles of groomed trails.  Roads are open on the frozen lakes for driving.  Visitors are told to drive slowly, leave the window open and to not use a seatbelt.





Head of Geology Library & Map Room Mathematical Sciences Librarian Science Education Specialist

Danny Dotson's picture
Danny Dotson
180E Geology Library
Orton Hall

Library Associate for Maps