Historic site, northeastern corner of Minnesota, U.S. Located on Lake Superior near the Canadian border, it was designated a national historic site in 1951 and a national monument in 1958. It covers a 9-mi (14-km) overland trail from Lake Superior's northern shore that bypassed the obstacles to early canoe travel. Used by early explorers, the portage marked the end of travel on the Great Lakes and the beginning of the interior river route. The portage trail now bisects the reservation of the Grand Portage tribe of the Minnesota Chippewa Indians.
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The Grand Portage itself is a footpath which bypasses a set of waterfalls on the Pigeon River a few miles from where that stream runs into Lake Superior. This path is part of the historic trade route of the voyageurs between their wintering grounds and their depots to the east. This route, composed of the Pigeon River and other waterways and Grand Portage and many other portages, was of enormous importance in pre-industrial times, as it provided access from the Canada's settled areas to its interior of Canada. Some 50 miles upstream from Lake Superior, this trade route crosses the Height of Land Portage connecting South Lake on the Pigeon River watershed with North Lake of the Rainy River watershed. This portage crosses the Northern Continental divide and therefore provides passage between the drainage basin of the Arctic Ocean and that of the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean.
As early as 2,000 years ago, Indian Nations probably used Gichi-onigaming, or “the Great Carrying Place”, to travel from summer homes on Lake Superior to winter hunting grounds in the interior of Minnesota and Ontario. In 1729 Cree guide Auchagah drew a map for some of the first French fur traders showing them how to reach the "western sea" of Lake Winnipeg. In time, Grand Portage became the gateway into rich northern fur bearing country connecting remote interior outposts to lucrative international markets.
The Grand Portage trail itself is an 8 1/2 mile trail connecting Grand Portage with Fort Charlotte on the Pigeon River. Voyageurs from the interior of Canada would carry their furs by canoe to Fort Charlotte, and portage the bundles of fur to Grand Portage. There they would meet their counterparts from Montreal, and exchange the furs for trade goods and supplies. Each canoe "brigade" would then return to its starting place.
In mid-July 1802, partners of the most successful fur trade company in North America, the North West Company, met in their Great Hall at Grand Portage, Minnesota and voted to move their summer headquarters from the protected shores of Lake Superior’s Grand Portage Bay 50 miles north to the mouth of the Kaministiquia River. Almost from the time the Anglo-Scot Nor’Westers had organized at Grand Portage in the mid 1780s an emerging United States wanted them out. The July vote would mean that 18 buildings constructed from native squared spruce, pine and birch and over 2,000 cedar pickets surrounding them would be torn down, transported north in company schooners and used in constructing the new Fort William far from U.S. soil.
Reopened in 1951 as Grand Portage National Historic Site, it was designated a National Monument in 1958, and the portage trail itself is a Minnesota State Historic Site. The monument's 710 acres lie entirely within the boundaries of Grand Portage Ojibwe Indian Reservation. The reconstructed depot celebrates fur trade and Ojibwe lifeways. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.
Grand Portage relives its past; Fur trading monument is set to celebrate its 40th birthday In the 1700s, the supply depot at Grand Portage bustled with fur traders. Today, the Grand Portage National Monument is replicating those wild, grand old times.(NEWS)
Aug 23, 1998; On Sept. 2, a special tour and celebration will mark the 40th birthday of Grand Portage National Monument. But the history this...
Trading network made this Minnesota outpost a crossroads for half of a continent.(Originated from Knight-Ridder Newspapers)
Apr 15, 1996; GRAND PORTAGE, Minn. _ Even in a remote fort in the middle of a wild continent, thousands of miles from Montreal and London,...