Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Gordon (WI) Historical Society Museum

One of the favorite things to do is to explore small museums, particularly those with collections that reflect our outdoor heritage. Many of these museums are the result of dedicated efforts by many men and women who thanklessly devote thousands of hours of their time to help us to reconstruct the past. The Historical Museum of the Gordon-Wascott Historical Society in Gordon, Wisconsin is just such a place. I toured this museum recently and came away impressed with both the quality and breadth of material on display.

Gordon, Wiscsonsin is an unincorporated town of around 500 people smack dab in the middle of Wisconsin's vacationland--the famous sand country made legendary by the great Aldo Lepold in his beautiful Sand Country Almanac. The mighty St. Croix River flows gently on the edge of town.

This is a photo of the gentle Middle Eau Claire River as it flows about six miles outside of Gordon, Wisconsin. The river is full of smallmouth bass, creek chubs (up to a foot in length), river shiners, and one of the great overlooked fish--the Rock Bass.

This region was Chippewa Country and became a very important economic cog in industrial America in the 1880s onward because of the old-growth forests full of Norway Pines soaring 200 feet high. Loggers such as those pictured made the Gordon-Wascott region home until all the trees were gone.

This is some of the great fishing in the entire state of Wisconsin, from the Minong Flowage to Sims Lake to the St. Croix, Totagotic, Middle Eau Claire, and Brule Rivers nearby. This is a great mount of an Osprey with a walleye--I once got up early to watch the sun rise and saw six Osprey hit the water at the same time, and they all came up with fish. An amazing sight.

This is a great photo of an original painting by Noble Nelson of "Loon Fishing" that used to hang in Emil Hill's Resort. Emil Hill was a friend of my father's and an icon in the region for half a century.

Perhaps the regions most famous citizen was the NFL Hall-of-Fame coach Harry "Bud" Grant of the Minnesota Vikings. Bud Grant was one of those legendary athletes whose likes we rarely see today--in addition to an NFL career he also played two years in the NBA for the Minneapolis Lakers and won a championship in 1950. He also played both Defensive End and Wide Receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL. He coached the Minnesota Vikings to four super bowls. The photo above is of Grant playing baseball for the local Gordon team.

Apparently, Grant was a professional-quality basebally player as well. A lifelong proponent of outdoor field sports, he has maintained a cabin in the area on Sims Lake for the past several decades. He has spent his retirement years promoting fishing and hunting throughout the upper Midwest. He is a dedicated (and quite proficient) fisherman.

The Gordon Historical Museum is open from 10:00-4:00 Memorial to Labor Day. If you are driving up Highway 53 to Duluth or Canada, stop by a few minutes. You won't be sorry. It is located off County Road Y in "downtown" Gordon.

I would like to thank Pat Finstad for giving me a tour of the museum.

--Dr. Todd

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