Our Literary Outdoors… literature of the Sportsman’s Guide lifestyle.
If you love Lake Superior, North Country, or natural history in general, check out The University of Minnesota Press’s North Shore: Minnesota’s Superior Coast by Chel Andersen and Adelheid Fischer.
The book is over 600 pages and reads part like a coffee table book, part like a classroom textbook. Its sections are divided into the five interconnected areas of the North Shore watershed: Headwaters, Highlands, Nearshore, Lake Superior and Islands. From chorus frogs to butterworts to pitcher plants to black bears and (trust me) everything in between, the book is a beautiful look at the past, present and future of the region from its glacial development to the impact of tourism.
Continuing to profile 10 facts from each section, here they are from the Nearshore…the geography and various statistics:
- The Nearshore comprises of Lake Superior’s edge, roughly from Duluth to Grand Portage. The shoreline’s appearance can range from steep cliffs to beaches.
- Basalt, rhyolite, and anorthosite are some of the rocks present along the Nearshore.
- Increases in grass pollen is attributed to wild rice’s abundance. For native residents thousands of years ago, it was a high-calorie staple that perhaps enabled population levels to increase.
- Early logging relied on larger rivers until the 20th century when elaborate railways were used to reach further inland. By the 1920s, most timber was exhausted and the lines were dismantled.
- As transportation technology advanced (i.e. steamships, cars), tourism efforts increased as people were encouraged to explore the scenic Lake and region. This included the development of highways and recreational lodges.
- While rock seems to dominate the coastline, over 50% is erodible soil, and costly efforts (estimated at over 30 million dollars) remain to protect from further eroding.
- Of the 340 species of flowering plants and ferns whose main North American range lies in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, 46 have been documented in the Lake Superior region to date.
- The butterwort is incredibly adaptive for survival along the coastline. With only a small amount of soil available along rocky shores, they can trap insects with their flypaper-like leaves and slowly digest them. They also dislodge buds which can blow away and re-sprout elsewhere, enabling non-sexual reproduction.
- Some cedar trees along the Great Lakes have been dated over 1,000 years old.
- Perhaps predictably, spring and fall migratory patterns for birds avoid flying directly over the open water of Lake Superior.