Friday, July 10, 2020

Ellsworth Rock Gardens

We really enjoyed our water taxi tour of Lake Kabetogama with Larry Thurs. morning. We saw islands, eagle's nests, a bald eagle, islands, a beaver's home, Gold Portage (water connecting Rainy Lake and Lake Kabetogama), Ellsworth Rock Gardens, and did I mention islands?

Ellsworth Rock Gardens

Eagle's nest

Eagle's nest #2

Bald Eagle

Beavers don't need to build dams, they have plenty of water, but they need homes.

Gold Portage

Voyageurs became a National Park in 1975. It was named for the 18th and early 19th century French Canadian voyageurs that traveled the lakes.  There are 4 major lakes and LOTS of islands, creating lots of waterways.  The park covers 218,000 acres, a third of that being water.  Water is the only way to see most of this park. Logging in the late 1800's/early 1900's took out most of the trees but it is now repopulated. When it became a National Park they bought out the many residents and resorts on the island. Some had an option to remain for their lifetime. They have been returning the land to it's natural habitat.


and more islands!

Larry, of Larry's Voyageurs Tours and Taxis, was our guide.  He was originally from Illinois, and had previously owned Arrowhead Lodge on Lake Kabetogama for 19 years.  He provided wonderful information on Voyagers and it's history.  His love for the park was evident.  I fell in love with the park too.  Thanks Larry!

Larry from Larry's Voyageur Tours and Taxis

Dock at Wooden Pond Campground

There is NO dirt.  All of the trees are growing in pine needles and moss on rocks, some of which are 1 -3 billion years old.  Larry said the glaciers swept the dirt down to Iowa!😃  The trees depend on each other for protection.  A single tree won't last long in the winds before tumbling down.

The reeds in front of the trees grows in the water.  Larry said pieces will break off and float somewhere else and reestablish.

I was so excited to stop at Ellsworth Rock Garden.  Jack Ellsworth, a building contractor from Chicago, and his wife, bought an island to spend their summers on.  Between 1944 and 1966 Jack used natural elements from northern Minnesota to create his art.  It is referred to as "the Show place of Lake Kabetogama."  He created 62 terraced gardens filled with 13,000 lilies and other flowers, and over 200 abstract rock sculptures. The NP service bought the overgrown area in 1978 and has been restoring it ever since.  It reminded me of Opus 40, a sculpture park in Saugerties,  NY.  that artist Harvey Fite spent 37 years creating.  I would highly recommend both.  Larry gave us a map with a self guided tour and set us free to look throughout the sculpture gardens. We were not carried off by the MANY large flies. 

Ellsworth Rock Garden

The current picnic shelter sits on the foundation of the Ellsworth summer home.  The fireplace and hydrangea bushes are original.

Terraced flower gardens they are being restored.



Mythical Animal

Only teepee left of the two.  Canvas that was on it deteriorated.

Stone Bridge

Signature Stone

I told you I was not very graceful Weds. climbing on the rocks. Well, Thurs., walking around the rocks at the sculpture garden, I went down.  Mind you I fell where there were no rocks nor anything else for that matter.  Usually (because I have always fallen a lot), I fall like a rock, pardon the pun. I get stiff as a board and fall over like a domino,  face plant if you will. Today I landed on my side and did a nice full roll, like a little kid rolling down a hill. Pat didn't catch it on camera,  but I was emphatic that I wouldn't do a replay for a video!

We met Larry at the Wooden Frog Campground boat launch in the State Forest. Larry said as soon as you touch water it becomes National Park territory. After our boat tour we checked out the CCC building and view from behind.

Wooden Frog Campground boat launch, State Forest 

CCC Building used for interpretive talks.

Overlooking the lake behind the CCC building.

I apologize for blurry pictures. We were intent on holding on to our phones in the boat! This is where a "real" camera would have been beneficial but a phone is easier to carry! While we have terrible phone service at our campsite, it was great on the lake.  We hung around there after our boat tour to download pictures.  

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