I wrote about my recent fishing trip to the Northwest Angle last Sunday on our Outdoors pages, and received a great letter from Steven Hansen, 63, of St. Louis Park, who used to go to the Angle as a kid. With his permission, I’m sharing it with you:
  
“Your column today about the Northwest Angle and how to get there certainly brought back memories.

When I was growing up my family would visit my Grandfather on Oak Island each summer. We'd leave our home in St. Louis Park about 1 or 2 am, watch the sunrise as we traveled, and arrive in Warroad in time to have breakfast before boarding either the Bert Steele or the Resolute - the two excursion boats that took supplies and people to the islands and the angle.  The cost for passage was only a few bucks, probably less than $20 in today's dollars.

The trip took 4-5 hours and for a few of those hours there was no sight of land in any direction.  Quite an experience for a Twin Cities boy, it made me realize just how big the lake is and how remote the angle area was. Other kids could go the Magical Kingdom at Disneyland, Oak Island was my Magical Place.

Back in the 50's and 60's when we made this trip, building a road to the angle was a frequent topic of discussion in Grandpa's general store/post office/customs office (you could rent a cabin there too).  Some folks didn't want a road because they liked the area as it was; other folks wanted it for the ease of access and projected benefits to the local economy.  The pro-roaders always win eventually; they represent "progress" and can just keep pushing until they get their way.  With the road built the passenger boats and independent flying services went out of business in the early 70's. 

Now if I visit Oak Island to relive old times I take the road like everyone else,  it's the only practical way. The problem is that driving there makes it just another place, the magic is gone. Sometimes progress isn't progress, but seldom does a road get unbuilt.
My Grandfather moved to Oak Island in the early 1920's and got by in the early years by working for the commercial fishermen in the summer and trading for furs with the Indians in the winter (really).  By the 30's he'd started a business called Bay Store,  which my Aunt and Uncle ran after he retired.  The business still survives as Bay Store Camp, but it is no longer in the family. I last visited the island in 2004, and hope to make it back next year."
--Steven Hansen


 

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