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Historic hotel and recreation area in Voyageurs National Park focus of new site plan

Kettle Channel at the base of Kettle Falls in Voyageurs National Park (Photo by Jeff Kantor via Wikipedia)
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The National Park Service is asking for public input on a site development plan for the Kettle Falls area on the Kabetogama Peninsula in Voyageurs National Park. The project seeks to improve the historic area for workers and visitors.

The Kettle Falls Hotel began operations in 1913 near a new dam between Namakan and Rainy Lakes. It first served dam workers and later lumberjacks, trappers, gold miners, and commercial anglers. Today it is a popular visitor destination for both people staying at the hotel, and visiting for the day, seeing about 40,000 visitors each year. It is the only overnight lodging option in the park.

The hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, with the entire surrounding area designated as a historic district two years later.

The Park is now developing a plan to improve the site and address accessibility concerns. This first phase of review precedes the full-fledged environmental review required by law, simply seeking preliminary input on ideas put forth by park staff.

“The park is interested to know if our ideas are on the right track, totally off the rails, or missing important concepts,” said Bob DeGross, Voyageurs National Park Superintendent.

A map showing preliminary site plan options. (NPS)

The plan seeks to improve recreational opportunities, accessibility, wayfinding, and overnight visitor opportunities, and improvements to housing options for staff in the area. It also seeks to protect natural and cultural resources at the site, which was used by Native Americans before European-American settlers arrived.

The preliminary plans suggest significant additions to the facilities at the site. It includes a proposed new primitive campground with with 5-10 sites available for boat-in visitors. There could also be new housing for concessionaire employees, with the National Park Service building a dormitory for up to 20 people. The total number of boat slips available for docking would also increase on Namakan Lake. Up to four rustic “camper cabins” could also be constructed for additional overnight options.

Other project could include landscaping around the historic hotel, creating social areas and picnic grounds. One additional room in the Kettle Falls Hotel, currently used for employee housing, would be available to visitors once new worker housing is constructed.

Visitors arrive at Kettle Falls Hotel in Voyageurs National Park. (NPS photo)

The Park Service will host two public workshops regarding the plan in early November.

  • Tuesday, November 5, 2019 from 6 to 8 p.m.
    Kabetogama Town Hall, 9707 Gamma Road, Kabetogama, MN 56669
  • Wednesday, November 6, 2019 from 6 to 8 p.m.
    Voyageurs National Park Headquarters, 360 Highway 11 East, International Falls, MN 56649

Comments can also be submitted online at this link, where all plan documents are also available.

More information:

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