All those waterfalls, going to waste

I came across this image from a 1913 edition of the Duluth News Tribune today. Note the incredible caption, about this beautiful waterfalls and its 75,000 horsepower “going to waste.”

The relevant part of the article reads:

“Within the very lap of Tofte there is 125,000 electrical horse power undeveloped. Temperance River Falls, three miles west, that has 75,000 horsepower, owned by Fletcher Brothers of Minneapolis, who signify an intention of developing it for operating pulp mills and for furnishing electrical lighting for Tofte. Then there are the Cascade Falls just east of Tofte that has 50,000 horsepower going to waste. Both of these falls should be harnassed and made to do their share in the work of developing the natural resources of this section of Cook county. With the dawn of the railroad era the Duluth & Northern Minnesota, that cuts through the center of the county and the building of the new line, Grand Marais & Northwestern, tapping the forest wealth, iron ranges and the rich leaf mould agricultural soil tributary to the north shore, we doubt not but what both of these water falls will be put into commission in the very near future.”

Imagine a narrow reservoir with a tall plug of a dam right where we look into Temperance’s Hidden Falls today. Imagine a major industrial site right where the Temperance campground is now, still cranking out paper. Really, imagine the Ontario town of Terrace Bay and its dam on the Aguasabon River. I like Terrace Bay. A very nice dentist there helped me get past a really bad toothache once. But I like Temperance as it is even more.

The Grand Marais & Northwestern Railroad never came to be. Five years after this article was published, the Duluth and Northern Minnesota railroad announced in the same paper it was pulling up miles of its track in Cook County. The “forest wealth” had already been tapped. The pulp business consolidated in other places, and the local pulpwood that would have been pounded with the power of the Temperance went by raft across the lake.

Rather than a dam at Temperance, the CCC built stone overlooks. In 1957, the state park was created.

Those waterfalls at Temperance aren’t wasted. They add value to our lives everytime we see or even think of them.


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2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Just imagine what might have been
    if people started developing the
    North Shore. We are very lucky
    it wasn’t all ruinned. Look at the Oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico
    threatening the coastlines. I believe they were entertaining some pretty extreme logging during
    the Bush Administration in the Superior National Forest that never came to be also. Thankfully!

  2. pam says:

    Thanks for the bit of history. It definitely brings some reality to what we are leaving for our children’s children.

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