Grand Marais is not your average small town. This bustling village of 1,400 people has more cultural offerings than many much larger cities. Artists and progressive thinkers have been arriving for decades, and today their work fills galleries and keeps the stages stirring throughout the year.
The name Grand Marais, or Big Swamp, comes from the French version of the Ojibwe name for the area, though some historians claim they did a poor translation and the actual name was Place Beside the Duplicate Waters.
Trading posts and fishing camps were established here previously, including one for John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company, but a permanent community didn’t take hold until 1871, when explorer and prospector Henry Mayhew came looking for iron, copper, and silver. He never found great mineral wealth, but the town he founded prospered with fishing and logging.
Today Grand Marais is a good base for exploring the surrounding wilderness and a great destination on its own.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition