The Arrowhead

May 15, 2018

Lesson Launch: a weekly academic social studies teaching tips blog, which occasionally touches on other topics.

By Dr. Paul E. Binford
President, Mississippi Council of the Social Studies

bettys pies

After flying to Minneapolis/St. Paul this past week, I drove up to the “arrowhead” over the weekend—the closest thing to visiting Canada without needing a passport.

The northeastern portion of Minnesota is fondly referred to as the “Arrowhead” by the inhabitants of the state.  The Arrowhead Region includes Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis counties.  However, it is the “oceanic” presence of Lake Superior to the east and/or south of this region, which dominates.

French explorers referred to this northernmost of the Great Lakes as the “upper lake” (or lac supérieur).  Lake Superior is approximately 350 miles in length and 160 miles in width with 1,826 miles of shoreline.  By surface area, it is the world’s largest freshwater lake.  Remarkably, Lake Superior holds as much water as the other Great Lakes combined—and then some!

Cabins, vacation homes, lodges, and hotels dot the North Shore of Lake Superior.  Also along this swath of land wedged between Canada and Lake Superior, small towns, such as Two Harbors and Grand Marais, have a flourishing arts and craft community as well as a handful of restaurants and local diners (The Crooked Spoon Café and Betty’s Pies to name a few) with a marvelous assortment of seafood and local quisine. Nonetheless, it is the scenery, nature, and the outdoors that is at the fore.

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Even in mid-May, temperatures hover just above freezing in the morning before rising to the high 40s or low 50s.  Snow can still be seen on the ski slopes of Lutsen Mountain!  At the moment, the Arrowhead Region remains dormant--not yet fully embracing spring, but the last vestiges of snow are melting, the creeks and rivers are burgeoning, and the longer days gently whisper that a change of season is approaching.   

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