"The North Country is a siren Who can resist her song of intricate and rich counterpoint?"
(Grace Lee Nute, The Voyageur's Highway, 1941)
Lured by America's premier wilderness canoe region, Lake Superior's rugged shoreline and cascading streams, and Duluth's reputation as America's great inland seaport, tourists have been coming to the northeastern Minnesota since the 1890s. In recognition of this great natural treasure, President Theodore Roosevelt established the Superior National Forest in 1909.
Tourists first came by steamship and rail. But it was the advent of the automobile and the building of roads, particularly the Lake Superior International Highway (the North Shore Drive), dedicated in 1925, and the Gunflint Trail, built during the 1920s, that opened what came to be called the Arrowhead Region. The region's civic leaders, quick to take advantage of this new opportunity, organized the Arrowhead Association in 1924 to promote the area's recreational opportunities. Thanks in part to the organization's efforts, the North Shore Drive soon came to be known as one of the nation's most scenic highways. Americans, infatuated with the freedom and adventure of automobile travel, came in large numbers. In 1938, and estimated 1,000,000 tourists visited Split Rock Lighthouse, and in 1940, the U.S. Coast Guard declared it to be "probably the most visited lighthouse in the United States."
Numerous resorts were developed during the 1920s to accommodate the ever-increasing number of tourists. The State of Minnesota acquired several scenic areas along the North Shore for parks: Gooseberry Falls in 1933, Cascade River in 1934, and Temperance River in 1936. In 1926 the federal government moved to preserve the pristine lakes and forests of the boundary region as a wilderness canoe county.
This region remains a favorite destination for travelers from all over the world who heed the captivating call of the Arrowhead Region.