Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baudette Rest Area - Peace Park

Baudette, MN
MN Highway 72

This roadside parking area is at the border crossing in Baudette, available to travelers along Minnesota 11 and those crossing the international border (Minnesota 72).

The entry on Highway 72

The rest area is along a loop roadway with three parking areas, several cast concrete circular picnic tables, a restroom building and water fountain (seasonal), a storage building, two history markers, and two grave sites. The site is along the Baudette River where it meets the Rainy River. The border station is on the west side of the rest area. The Minnesota Highway Department established the rest area in 1969 as part of the Federal Highway Beautification program.

One of the parking areas

Restroom building and water fountain

One of several picnic tables

Storage building added c. 1980

The two grave sites c. 1904 & 1907

The two graves in the Old Town Cemetery are those who had no surviving relatives to grant permission to relocate the remains to the Elm Park Cemetery in 1909. ¹


c. 1966
Massacre Island
    Tradition is woven of fact and fiction. Two islands in the Lake of the Woods are named 'Massacre,' one on the Canadian, one on the American side of the boundary. The Canadian island, the larger of the two, is heavily wooded. The American island is small, rocky and barren. These islands were so named because of the following events.
    In 1732, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes de la Verendrye, French-Canadian explorer and trader, built Fort St. Charles at Northwest Angle Inlet on Lake of the Woods. From this base he traded with the Cree and Assiniboine for furs to finance explorations for a passage to the Western Sea.
    Early in June, 1736, La Verendrye sent his son, Jean-Baptiste, with the priest, Father Pierre Aulneau, and nineteen voyageurs eastward for supplies. At their first campsite, a small rocky island 'seven leagues' from the Fort, they were attacked and killed by a Sioux war party. The bodies were decapitated and placed in a row. The heads of the voyageurs were wrapped in beaver pelts and left near the bodies. Those of Jean-Baptiste and Father Aulneau may have been carried off as trophies.
    Several weeks after the massacre, a party of Chippewa passed a small island and discovered the victims of the massacre. Out of reverence for the priest, and because they could not dig a grave on the rocky island, they raised a stone cairn over his body.
    When he learned of the tragedy, the elder La Verendrye had the remains of the men taken to Fort St. Charles and buried near the chapel. They were found there in 1908 by an archaeological party from St. Boniface College, Manitoba, Canada.
    The island where the massacre occurred has never been satisfactorily identified. 
Erected by the Minnesota Historic Sites and Markers Commission, 1966

c. 1966
Great Fire of 1910
    Northern Minnesota forests were tinder dry during the fall of 1910. Marshes and streams shriveled. Small fires smoldered here and there in the peat bogs and underbrush.
    On October 4 a forest fire consumed the communities of Williams, Cedar Spur, and Graceton. The flames, fed by loggers' slashings, crackled onward and three days later completely destroyed all the buildings in the little town of Pitt except the depot.
    The fire approached Baudette and Spooner on the evening of October 7. As the towns rapidly became furnaces of flames, citizens gathered at the depot for safety. Victims of a typhoid epidemic were evacuated by train before a whirlwind of flame swept away the two towns and the bridge over the Baudette River that connected them.
    Before morning almost everything at Baudette was leveled, leaving what one survivor called a desolate plain' covered by charred ruins. Only the sawmill at Spooner remained standing.
    Forty-two persons lost their lives in the great fire of 1910. About 300,000 acres were burned in ten townships, including much valuable timber and many homesteads and livestock.
Erected by the Minnesota Historical Society 1966

Rainy River International Bridge between Baudette and Canada
Seen from rest area

¹ Susan Granger, Scott Kelly, and Kay Grossman. (1998, December). Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways. Minnesota Department of Transportation.