Friday morning when we awoke at camp and some of my family went fishing. Dave, my son-in-laws father, took Laurel, Sarah and Paul fishing in the morning. They had a good time reeling in several keepers. They arrived back at camp about 11am so we could get ready to head out to the source of the “Mighty Mississippi”! We cleaned ourselves up, we thought we should remove a little fish smell and camp fire smoke, loaded the car and headed north.
We drove about a half and hour and reached the east entrance of Lake Itasca State Park. As we drove thru the in the park to the ranger station to check in, I admired the large red pines standing majestically protecting the forest floor. As we neared the ranger station we had a traffic stoppage. I guess other families had the same idea of visiting the headwaters. We got to ranger station and paid for our day use pass and received our map and headed to a picnic area to grab a little lunch before our sightseeing. At the picnic area there was a log lodge filled with the history of Lake Itasca. Stories about the Native American who lived in the area and the first settlers to come to the region. They also had a display of the history early explorers trying to locate the source of the Mississippi. Some of the claims of the source 50 to 100 miles short of Lake Itasca. After our short visit we loaded up in the car and headed to the headwaters.
The parking lot was full of cars and people filled the entrance path to the headwaters. We made our way down the 600 foot path to the headwaters. And there it was, Lake Itasca being held back by a row of rock creating the first dam on the Mississippi. A large Pole stood tall with the fact that we were at the source of the Mighty Mississippi. We were standing 1475 feet above sea level and the river will be traveling 2552 miles on its journey to the Gulf of Mexico. The rocks were filled with families setting claim to the same exploration we made. This river is a true treasure for the State of Minnesota and wealth of commerce to our nation. We waded in the lake and crossed the slippery rocks like the water to stand in the first few feet of the Mississippi. And we crossed the first bridge over the river which is 100 feet down stream. Yes it is only a log but it is still a bridge!
Paul and Beth who live in Winona Minnesota, which is on the Mississippi, the river is filled with barges loaded with cargo headed north and south on the river but Paul had never seen the headwaters. This was my third time visiting the headwaters and it is a reminder of how humble the Mighty Mississippi starts out and how it is a treasure to this nation. After we finished visiting the headwaters we retreated to the gift shop and did a little shopping and had an ice cream cone. We loaded back into the car and headed back to camp after our visit to the headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi. If you are ever “Up North” in Minnesota make this stop on your trip.