How The Environment Has Shaped the State

From Sustenance to Leisure on Minnesota Land

Expert Essay: Associate professor of history Michael J. Lansing, published in Environmental History as well as Ethics, Place, and Environment, highlights the many ways people have made use of Minnesota's flora and fauna over time and reviews the state's more recent efforts at conservation.

Gooseberry Falls State Park

One of Minnesota’s most popular nature areas, Gooseberry Falls was the first of eight state parks developed along Lake Superior’s North Shore. Nearly all of its buildings were constructed by employees of the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1934 and 1941. The collection of stone and log structures presents a distinctively North Shore interpretation of the National Park Service’s Rustic Style of architecture, complementing the park’s river, waterfalls, woodlands, and lakeshore.

Joseph N. Alexander Visitors’ Center

Joseph N. Alexander Visitors’ Center

Joseph N. Alexander Visitors’ Center in Gooseberry Falls State Park. Photograph by Wikimedia Commons user Jonathunder, November 15, 2021. CC BY-SA 2.0

Water tower

Water tower

Water tower inside Gooseberry Falls State Park, constructed on the highest point of the picnic area to provide water for visitors. The granite and masonry exterior was built around a 10,000-gallon water tank. Photograph by Noah Barton, 2021. Used with the permission of Noah Barton.

Lady Slipper Lodge

Lady Slipper Lodge

Lady Slipper Lodge, the first building constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps at Gooseberry Falls State Park. It was originally used as a kitchen shelter. Photograph by Noah Barton, 2021. Used with the permission of Noah Barton.

Fifth Falls Shelter

Fifth Falls Shelter

Fifth Falls Shelter, a three-sided Adirondack-style shelter, in Gooseberry Falls State Park. This type of shelter is typically designed to offer both protection from the weather and a scenic view. Photograph by Noah Barton, 2021. Used with the permission of Noah Barton.

Falls View Shelter (Bridgehead Refectory), Gooseberry Falls State Park

Falls View Shelter (Bridgehead Refectory)

Falls View Shelter, originally used as a visitors’ center for Gooseberry Falls State Park; also known as the Bridgehead Refectory. Photograph by Noah Barton, 2021. Used with the permission of Noah Barton.

Agate Beach

Agate Beach

Agate Beach in Gooseberry Falls State Park. Photograph by Joe Passe, June 10, 2019. CC BY-SA 2.0

View from Gitchi Gummi Trail

View from Gitchi Gummi Trail

View from the Gitchi Gummi Trail in Gooseberry Falls State Park. Photograph by Joe Passe, June 10, 2019. CC BY-SA 2.0

Gooseberry Falls State Park in autumn

Gooseberry Falls State Park in autumn

Gooseberry Falls State Park in autumn. Photograph by Tony Webster, October 15, 2015. CC BY-SA 2.0

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