Construction underway for Superior Zipline Adventures in Grand Marais
Matt Geretschlaeger of Grand Marais introduced the idea of his new business, Superior Zipline Adventures over a year ago. It took a while to find a location and funding for the approximately $825,000 project, but Geretschlaeger broke ground on the zip line along the Gunflint Trail, overlooking Grand Marais and Lake Superior on August 14, 2013.
Geretschlaeger said everything is going as planned and he expects to open the zip line for business in spring 2014.
Geretschlaeger has put much of his own money on the line but is receiving financial help from a number of entities. Geretschlaeger was granted a Cook County Revolving Loan Fund loan of $250,000 in July 2013 at 6.18 percent interest over 20 years. He also received a loan of $266,000 from the USDA Small Business Administration. Another $192,000 of funding comes from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) in the form of an economic development grant. Another $9,000 grant was received from the Cook County – Grand Marais Economic Development Authority Immediate Needs Fund, established this year with assistance from the IRRRB.
The $9,000 grant was necessary, according to EDA Board Member Hal Greenwood, to get the ball rolling. At the August 2013 EDA meeting, Greenwood explained that the site preparation and clearing had to be completed by December 2013 under the conditions of the other grants.
Reached by phone on September 25, Geretschlaeger said Geronimo Construction of Biwabik is the firm building two zip lines, with help, he stressed of all local contractors. He noted that Jason Hill Excavating and Lamb Construction Corporation had been great to work with. “We’ve used 100 percent local contractors, except for Geronimo, which is an Iron Range company,” said Geretschlaeger. Another local contractor is logger Kent Anderson who is clearing the site.
Geretschlaeger said Kent Anderson’s involvement adds a historic twist to the construction of Superior Zipline Adventures. Kent is the son of Wayne and Philis Anderson of Grand Marais. Wayne Anderson’s father—Kent’s grandfather—oversaw the replanting of the white pines on the Sawtooth Ridge after a major fire decimated the hillside long ago. Knowing the history of the pines, Geretschlaeger said Kent Anderson was very protective of the property, preserving as many of the trees planted by his grandfather as possible.
Motorists that use that route to get back and forth to home or work will be glad to hear that the major work of building the driveway, which included some blasting, is over. “There should not be any more traffic delays,” he said, acknowledging that the hillside looks a bit rough right now.
“We’re done with the demolishing phase and we’re now putting things back together,” said Geretschlaeger.
He said work continues, it is just now out of sight of the Gunflint Trail. He said the road to what will be the main lodge building, between the two zip line towers, has been completed and it cannot be seen from the roadway.
Those interested in the project can follow the construction on facebook at Superior Zip Lines or on-line at www.superiorziplines.com.