Conservation Minnesota

Day 3: Finland to Two Harbors

In the footsteps of John Beargrease

Frank Moe recaps day three of his 350-mile sled dog adventure to raise awareness about sulfide mining pollution. Keep tabs on Frank’s progress by following Conservation Minnesota on Twitter, Facebook, or on our website.

Adam Harju goes from helping with the dogs to flipping pancakes. Photo courtesy of Joi Electa from Silver Bay.

“A huge crowd greeted us this morning at our send off rally in Finland. Fifty residents from the tiny town showed up for a pancake breakfast and a rousing speech by Jennifer Burnett whose great grandfather, John Beargrease, is a legendary figure throughout this region.

The earliest inhabitants of the North Shore of Lake Superior became dependent on Beargrease and his brothers for their weekly mail run between Two Harbors and Grand Marais.In the summer they would travel by horse or boat, and in the winter, they would utilize a team of sled dogs to make sure the messages were delivered. It is with great reverence for John Beargrease that I am making my trek right now. This morning we loaded up more than 8,000 signatures of people opposed to expanded mining, and we headed out to make sure that our leaders in St. Paul get the message that there are real and dangerous consequences to sulfide mining.

Along the trail the last few days, we have seen a real increase in the number of snowmobilers who are coming from all over to northern Minnesota to recreate and experience the beauty of our great north woods. When we stop and chat, they all seem to get it. If mining were to destroy the natural beauty of the region, the tourism economy would be lost and we would literally be trading careers that can span generations for jobs that will only last a few years until the last of the valuable minerals is pulled from the earth. We need to be smart about our efforts to recover in these tough economic times and recognize that sometimes the easy money comes with very dangerous strings attached. Sulfide mining has never been done in an environmentally responsible way. Tourism has. If we want to protect these jobs, we need to make sure that our leaders in St. Paul see us and hear us as we stand up against any project that would trade long term stability for short term gain.

Tomorrow morning we head out from Two Harbors for a rally in Duluth’s Lester Park in the afternoon. The dogs are really enjoying this trip, and their only complaints seem to come when I stop too long to chat with people along the trail. They love to run, and standing still for too long invariably ends with a chorus of barks and yelps from my four legged friends who are anxious to get moving.”

Frank’s Dog Spotlight:

“Ajax has always been the photographer’s favorite for his striking blue eyes and sleek build. He might not be the fastest dog in the yard, but what he lacks in speed, he makes up for in heart. In the 2010 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon we were on the side of the trail between Sawbill and Finland on our way back to Duluth. I was on the verge of giving up when Ajax started to bark and wag his tail as if to tell me that he had yet to give up. I hooked him to the lead line, and he brought me and the rest of the team with him into Finland and helped lead us to our first ever Beargrease finish.”

Thanks to Joi Electa from Silver Bay, we have some wonderful pictures of the pancake breakfast this morning in Finland.  See even more on our facebook page.


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