|About the Site|
|Voyageurs National Park (5)|
The hotel is not the only interesting attraction in the Kettle Falls area. This section of the park has been a gathering place for Indians, loggers, fisherman, and tourists for many years.
There is a marina on both sides of Kettle Falls itself. The larger of the two is on the west side of the falls at the far east end of Namakan Lake, where a number of boats can often be found. It accommodates fisherman and recreational boaters wishing to portage around the Kettle Falls Dam to Rainy Lake.
This marina and dock is the arrival point for guests at the hotel. The view below shows some of the docks at the marina looking east, with the entrance to the dam in the background.
The area near the marina contains a number of buildings. There is a general store for the convenience of boaters, fisherman, hotel guests, and others who may be passing through.
At one time this area was the home of about 200 people.The marina area contains several historical structures which have been occupied by some of the key folks over the years. Visible from the docks, the Herb and Mabel Williams house was constructed in 1945.
The first tender of the dam was Chris Monson. He lived for many years in the damkeeper's cabin, which was built in 1910.
Many visitors pass through the Kettle Falls area on their way from Namakan Lake to Rainy Lake. Since the Kettle Falls dam blocks the way by boat, a portage service is provided here. The photograph below shows the portage road, which is about .2 miles in length.
The boat dock on the east side of the portage, in Rainy Lake, is a bit smaller than the one in Namakan Lake.
Although there are no lengthy trails for hiking into the backwoods from the Kettle Falls Hotel, there are some short recreational paths which wander through the forest around the hotel and along the lake. Below is a shot of a planked trail across a wetland area right next to the hotel.
One path leads to the dam itself. This dam was built by the Minnesota and Ontario Paper company between about 1905 and 1914 and replaced falls which connected Namakan and Rainy Lakes. When the falls existed, the water fell about 20 feet, although there is currently a 12 foot drop over the dam. The Indians who inhabited the area used to spear sturgeon at the foot of the falls.
The dam is currently owned by the Boise Cascade Corporation. There is a viewing platform next to the dam, which can be seen below on the top of the bluff in the center of the picture.
During the heyday of commercial logging in the area, logs were sluiced over the dam on their way to the mill. As many as 7 or 8 million logs a day passed over the dam at that time.
Standing on the viewing platform, the visitor can look east toward Rainy Lake. The lake is very narrow here, and it is a journey of several miles through narrow channels to reach the main body of Rainy Lake proper.
Looking in the opposite direction, to the west, the eastern end of Namakan Lake is visible. During the days of the voyageurs themselves, they probably portaged around the falls, although lengthier portages between lakes have also been used in the area.
The land on the north side of the dam is, of course, part of the United States. However, if you look toward the other side Kettle Island is visible. The US/Canada border runs right through the center of the dam, so Kettle Island is actually Canadian soil. This is one of the very few places in the U. S. where you can look south to see Canada
The picture below shows a view of the dam from the lake, looking east. The left shore is the United States, while the right bank is Canada.
The trail also provides a view of the old pier, south of the hotel. During the heyday of commercial fishing in the area, fisherman hauled boxes of fish to the landing near Kettle Falls Hotel. Fish were sold to bidders on the dock and the boardwalk which was in front of the hotel; over 5000 boxes of fish were sold each commercial fishing season. After 1914 the sturgeon industry was largely gone, but walleye, northern pike, whitefish, cisco, and burbot were still caught.
The Kettle Falls area is heavily forested, and the paths in the area provide beautiful views of the lake.
The level of the water in Namakan and Rainy Lakes is controlled by the dams now. In these pictures of the lakes in the Kettle Falls area the differences in levels of the surface of the lake is apparent from the appearance of the rocks on the shore.
Although the Kettle Falls area, with a marina and hotel, is the only "developed" section of the park, once out of sight of buildings it appears to be as wild and serene as the rest of the park.
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