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Viewfinders at Taconite Harbor bring the lake, big ships closer

May 26, 2017 08:43AM ● Published by Editor

By Brian Larsen from The Cook County News Herald - May 25, 2017 Staff Photo Credit:  Brian Larsen

Cook County Commissioner Ginny Storlie (standing) and Visit Cook County representative Anna Klobuchar look through the new viewfinders at the Taconite Harbor following the ribbon-cutting ceremony.  Anna Klobuchar said she could see little people waving at her from Gull Island.

“They’re right there.” She pointed as she looked into the new viewfinder stationed at the Taconite Harbor Public Access.

“Where?”

“Right there, they are waving at me,” and she waved back. Then she giggled, falling straight away into dead laughter as someone else got a chance to look into the sporty new binoculars. 

If you don’t know her, for the record, Anna Klobuchar, smart as a whip, is a silly goose.

Klobuchar, a representative from Visit Cook County, was one of about 20 people who turned out for the ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the township of Schroeder, the Minnesota DNR, and the North Shore Drive Scenic Council.

“The Taconite Harbor Viewfinder project,” said Otsea, “consists of the installation of an ADA compliant Dual Viewfinder on a 10’x20’ concrete pad along with the construction of 25’ x 20’ concrete pad for a nearby handicapped parking area. These viewers, said Otsea, “Will enable tourists and local residents to view wildlife and boats in the Taconite Harbor basin, Lake Superior and Bear/Gull Islands. Sea gulls and ducks can be observed on the islands and harbor during most summer days.” 

Although there were no passing ships and only a few random seagulls to look at, the view of the two islands fronting the harbor was spectacular. Otsea added, “This project couldn’t be possible without the support and help fro Minnesota Power, IRRRB, Minnesota DNR, U.S. Forest Service, Visit Cook County, Schroeder Historical Society, and the North Scenic Drive Council.”

Kevin Johnson, acting area supervisor, Parks and Trails, Minnesota DNR, followed Otsea, and he marveled at the physical beauty of the surroundings, and gave everyone a little trivia contest. How far is it to Silver Bay from here? (23.5 miles). How big is the small harbor here? (Almost 2 acres). How far is it to Grand Marais? (30 miles).

Johnson asked quite a few trivia questions that stumped most people, but they were entertaining. He talked about the importance of the safe harbor at Taconite Harbor, and the cooperation it took between multiple agencies to finish the viewfinder project. 

Next up was Bruce Martinson. If not for Martinson’s vision (pun intended) this new resource wouldn’t be in place. Martinson started working to put this together about two years ago, picking up the pieces and putting the project back on track when it needed help.

When completed, the two viewfinders, cement pad, and parking lot improvements cost $14,962. 

Martinson acknowledged the following, “Joe Russel of the DNR and John Paulson of Minnesota Power who first met with me and picked this site for the project and provided encouragement to move the project forward.

“The Cook County Chamber and Moving Matters provided the first ‘Great Place’ grant of $1,000 in 2015 and the Schroeder Historical Society, which provided seed money for other funding sources.

“The North Shore Scenic Drive Council applied and received an IRRRB Culture and Tourism Grant of $7,481 toward the project.

“The Minnesota DNR provided $3,400 in-kind services, which included ground prep, backfill, tree removal and subsurface materials.

“An additional $581 was provided in volunteer time to meet the required match. Pinnacle Scopes, located in Ontario, Canada, manufactured the binocular and telescope viewing heads with 20-to 35-x magnification.

“Daryl Carpenter was the contractor hired to complete the concrete work which he completed last fall, and Schroeder Township was able to have the Minnesota Association of Townships Insurance Trust insure the view finders.”

With that the ribbon was cut and Ostea brought out some picnic food. A nice way to end a day that was otherwise quite cold and dreary.

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