Archaeologists Find Section of Voyageur Portage

Canoe Manned by Voyageurs Passing a Waterfall, by Frances Anne Hopkins

A mile of the Grand Portage of the St. Louis River has been rediscovered in Jay Cooke State Park, near Duluth. Archaeologists surveying the area as part of the reconstruction of Highway 210, which was damaged in the catastrophic 2012 flood, found the trail, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

The portage was used centuries ago by voyageurs to bypass rapids on the St. Louis River as they traveled between Lake Superior and the Mississippi River on the famed Northwest Trail.

Sigrid Arnott led the study, assisted by brothers Andrew and Michael Wise. She said the trail was clearly not for recreational use, but rather to carry heavy loads the shortest possible distance.

“It’s all up and down,” Hiller told the New Tribune. “They were going through swamps. They were hand over fist going up those clay hills. It was a difficult section. There’s a lot of grumbling going on when you read the journals.”

The group ultimately identified a dozen segments of the trail, adding up to about a mile total. The longest section was 1,000 feet long.

The state park will work to preserve the trail for its historic purposes, and not develop it for recreation.

 

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