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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/325

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THE MISSISSIPPI'S SOURCE.

assembling and shipping by rail. They have worked their way gradually up the Mississippi until in 1901 they were within a dozen miles (direct) of its source, ready at the first opportunity to attack that.

As to the effect of such an invasion one who has made a special study of the subject says: "As soon as the timber shall have been cut . . . the whole tract will become a burned, black and denuded waste, the streams and lakes will dry up and partially disappear and the reservoir dam necessary to drive the logs through and out of Itasca and Elk Lakes into the Mississippi River will drown out every tree and shrub standing upon the shores of said lakes." Another writes: "The reservoir system on the upper Mississippi has already seriously injured and in some cases destroyed the beauty of some of the finest combinations of lake and forest on the continent. It is to be feared that ere long the greed of speculators and the avarice of the lumbermen will finish the work of desecration and desolation." To the truth of these views the bare hillsides along the streams of northern Minnesota and the broad belt of dead, gray timber that encircles the great reservoir of Lake Winnibigoshish—a sort of forest cemetery—bear dumb but eloquent witness.

About 1890 the progress of this work of destruction began to alarm some of the thoughtful men of the state, and through their efforts the legislature in 1891 was induced to pass an act establishing and creating the 'Itasca State Park,' a reservation five by seven miles in extent and including the whole Itasca basin. Much of the land within this area had become private property by homesteading or otherwise, and some was included also in the government grant to the Northern Pacific Kailroad. By purchase or condemnation the state soon secured control of the larger part, and since then appropriations have been made from time to time for the completion of such ownership. Some of the land still belongs to private owners and is not yet safe from saw and axe; but the good work is going on, and it is confidently hoped that very soon the last obstacle to the complete success of the plan will disappear.

In the management of the state park it is proposed to follow in general the policy adopted by the national government in regard to the Yellowstone region. Strict laws have been enacted for the protection of trees and game within its limits. Fishing is permitted (rod in hand), but hunting is absolutely prohibited. It is hoped that in time bear, deer and other large animals will come to recognize this reservation, like the Yellowstone Park, as a place of refuge, and that thus some rare species may be saved from extinction. For the enforcement of the laws a commissioner is resident on the grounds, vested with police powers. He is domiciled in a neat and comfortable cottage, built by the state and commonly known as the 'State House.' Our party, by the way, found in the clean beds and excellent fare of