Nanaboozoo (“trembling tail”); A native nature spirit of a mischievousness countenance for whom the lodge is named…is unrecognizably present in the flashy, art-deco colored Cree-inspired design of French artist Antoine Gouffee, a character who’s history and involvement seemingly remains mostly a mystery. The lodge still reflects the affect of the original 1920’s opulence, and holds claim to Minnesota’s largest native rock fireplace. At 200 tons, and standing 30’ x 80’ it’s a massively ornate centerpiece of the Great Hall’s dining area.
Having preconceived the idea to stop by for brunch during the planning stages of this northern excursion, I was serendipitously delighted to find the lodge within walking distance to the campground at which I was staying. Judge CR Magney State Park; North-East Minnesota’s last State Park with a campground before crossing into Canada.
A far cry from the days Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, and writer Ring Lardner used the lodge as an exclusive private club for the sporting elite. Whereas the laissez faire attitude of the roaring twenties may be removed, guests can still expect to…
“lounge in the comfortable lodge or hike the beautiful Brule River trail in search of the Devils Kettle (a stream of water that mysteriously disappears) high up within a rocky cauldron in the river. They fish the Brule for trout or roam the Lake Superior beach in search of agates. They sit on the Lake's wide shore to glimpse the eagle that perches in his favorite tree, or to watch the Canadian geese trimming the grass. Or like Peter Ramey, a camera buff, many guests love to run outdoors with camera in hand to capture a gloriously full, pink sunset.”
It’s the later, which brought me the lodge’s way. To hike the trails and parks of the Superior National Forest in the cool, autumnal color the deciduous trees of the North-Woods produce this time of year; to capture the soft pink glow of sunset draping over the great lake, “Gitchi Gumi”.
The club’s short run abruptly hit an inevitable end with the Great Depression of 1929. Foreclosing in 1930 due to financial strain, the Lodge has changed hands between numerous private and corporate owners over the years. It wasn’t until recently the lodge started receiving greater attention; largely in part to owner/operators Tim & Nancy Ramey. With their commitment over the past 40 years, the Naniboujou Lodge has become an iconic part of northern Minnesota’s illustrious history. Now a part of the National Register of Historical Places, the lodge receives protections against an often unforeseeable future and is currently valued at $3.295 million.
How and why this historic place first caught my attention I know not, but in thinking on it, I’m almost certain it had something to do with the Blueberry Wild Rice Sausages and Maple Cured Bacon. Our destinies forever entwined from that day forward -its suffusive to say, they didn’t disappoint. With an early agenda heading North along the Hwy 61 coast towards Grand Portage, afternoon tea would have to wait.
Afternoon Tea :
- Cucumber cream cheese sandwich
- Shortbread cookie of the day
- White chocolate-chip scone with raspberry jam and whipped cream
- Smoked turkey sandwich with parsley
- Bottomless pot of Ashby's afternoon tea
Tea is served in the solarium from 2:30pm to 4pm
With one last quick walk along the wind-swept rocky shore and the early morning light briefly shining through the thick rolling clouds, I could barley discern where the liquid horizon met the sky as I peered across the cold emerald waters of Lake Superior.