I join many, many people in mourning the passing of my friend, Steve O’Neil, last week. Steve was best known as a St. Louis County commissioner and a long-time community organizer in Duluth. His public accomplishments have been well documented since his death and at his memorial service, which had to be held at the DECC Auditorium in Duluth. Suffice it to say that the word “saint” is most often used to describe Steve.
A less known fact about Steve was that he was an avid visitor here in the West End, especially at the Sawbill Lake Campground and in the BWCA Wilderness. The picture on his Caring Bridge site was of him carrying a Sawbill canoe on a portage, and one of his last wishes was to paddle one last time on Sawbill Lake. Sadly, he became too ill to fulfill that wish and died just a few days after his planned visit.
A few days after his funeral, Steve’s wife, Angie Miller, along with his children, Brianna and Brendan, brought some of his ashes to Sawbill for a canoe ride up the lake. While our hearts ache for Steve’s absence from our community, I’m glad he was able to visit Sawbill one last time.
During the big storm last week, a border collie named JJ was spooked by lightning and ran off into the woods on the 180-rod portage between Cherokee and Scoop Lakes. The owners searched in vain and finally had to return to their home. They are asking that everyone in the West End keep an eye out for JJ. Dogs have tremendous survival instincts and can sometimes show up far from where they are lost. If you see JJ, you can call the sheriff’s department to report it.
Another dog was lost on Brule Lake at almost the same time, but was found and returned to its owner after several days alone in the woods. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the same happy ending for JJ.
I am pleased to report that a new business is planning to start up at the Eco-industrial Park in Silver Bay. Rocky Coast Brewing will include the brewing of fine, artisan beer, a taproom, food service, fire rings, live music and booths for local artists to display their art. Head brewer, Jonathon Klinkenberg, is planning to make Rocky Coast a destination brewery, where people come to camp, hang out and socialize over some excellent beer. He hopes to start operation this winter and have a grand opening in April.
This is the time of year when blueberries start to figure prominently in local conversations. Up until recently, there was a consensus that this would be a good berry season, but that it would be late, due to the late spring. Now it appears that it will be a good berry crop, but it seems like the berries are ripening right on schedule, with the peak coming around the first week or two in August, which is normal for this area.
Serious berry pickers in the West End have already been able to find quarts of ripe berries in a single picking session. But the good news is that they are reporting a heavy crop of green berries, just waiting for some warm sun to turn them blue, plump and sweet.
The areas burned by the recent Pagami Creek Fire should be loaded with blueberries this year, or next, at the latest.
I was interested to read in the Cook County News Herald about the Sasquatch Crossing signs that appeared, and were subsequently removed by the highway department, along the Gunflint Trail.
I just want people to know that there is a Sasquatch crossing that has been marked by signs for many years on the Picnic Loop ski trail at the Sugarbush Trail system in Tofte. In fact Sasquatch has been seen often at the crossing over the years, although some people believe that it might just be well-known Tofte resident, Jan Horak.