If you ask Deborah Morse-Kahn what she loves about the North Shore, you’ll inevitably hear about the cabins designed by noted architect Edwin Lundie, the cottage resorts along the lake and the old fish houses marked by their beautiful weathered wood.
You’re also likely to hear about the character of communities along Lake Superior. She uses the term “inter-cooperative” when describing the people of the North Shore, meaning everyone knows and looks after one another. The common good is more important than the individual.
In her new book, “Lake Superior’s Historic North Shore,” Morse-Kahn, a Linden Hills resident and longtime public historian and photojournalist, captures the flavor of the North Shore with a detailed guided tour of the region spanning from Duluth in the south to the Grand Portage and Pigeon River area in the north — a roughly 150-mile stretch of land that is home to a wide variety of landscapes and people.
In the preface of the book published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, she writes: “This guide to the history and people of the North Shore was written in the hope of reclaiming this coastline of Gii-dzhii Ojibwe-gah-meeng, the Great Sweet Water Sea, for our national inheritance. We must do so, or at the current pace of change, there will be far fewer visible remnants left to tell the stories of the past to future generations.”
In the introduction of the book, Morse-Kahn shares some useful tips under the heading “Rules of the Road.” She cautions readers against taking unpaved roads leading up in the inland hills north of Grand Marais; urges travelers to be off the roads by dusk to avoid hitting deer — the leading cause of accidents on North Shore roads; and suggests vacationers get the smoked fish double-bagged or the odor “may haunt your vehicle for months,” among other things.
Readers will also get a crash course in the history of the North Shore, beginning with background on the Dakota and Ojibwe, the first settlers in the area who were later joined by the French and British fur traders in the 1600s and 1700s. Immigrants from Scandinavia and the Baltic region started to arrive in the late 1880s.
The coast of Lake Superior has been a magnet for hearty, rugged people.
“Living on the North Shore is an intentional act for many,” Morse Kahn writes. “Despite harsh winters — and capricious weather at any time of year — a great many who come for a visit stay for a lifetime. Some put down roots in their chosen community and remove wholesale to the lake life. Others give their hearts to a summer cabin or resort and, generation after generation, return to their second home. For others the state parks are an extension of their own backyards, and a return to the pristine shore land and uplands of Tettegouche, Cascade, Gooseberry, and Magney is an essential annual pilgrimage.”
Morse-Kahn will be reading from her new book and signing copies at the Linden Hills Library on July 17. She specializes in historic preservation and cultural resource management. She also authored the books, “Edina: Chapters in the City History” and “A Guide to the Archaeology Parks of the Upper Midwest.”
If you go
What: Linden Hills Live hosts a program and book signing for Deborah Morse-Kahn’s new book, “Lake Superior’s Historic North Shore.”
Where: Linden Hills Library History Room, 2900 W. 43rd St.
When: July 17, 6:30–8 p.m.