The Jack Palance of Minnesota rivers


The St. Louis River. (Photo by Aaron Reichow via
The St. Louis River. (Photo by Aaron Reichow via

Minnesota has some pretty kick-ass rivers.

The Mississippi is the superstar, of course, the blue ribbon champion, the ultimate ruler of all rivers not only in the state of Minnesota but all of North America.

The Minnesota River is so sweet they named the state after it. The Red River is an angry, backwards cousin who just wants to runaway to Canada. The Rainy River is our brave and heroic border guard. The Gooseberry is the flashy pop star who can dance like a Vegas showgirl.

And then you have the St. Louis River flowing into Lake Superior between Duluth and Superior, Wisconsin.

The St. Louis River is the Jack Palance of Minnesota rivers. Palance is the actor who had a few good roles in his prime, got old and disappeared for so long people assumed he was dead. Then, miraculously, Palance returned to the silver screen at 73 and won an Oscar.

If you’re a movie fan, you may have seen a clip of Palance doing a one-arm push-up after winning a 1992 Academy Award. In doing the impromptu exercise routine, Palance showed the world he was still a strong, vital and important actor. Still pretty kick-ass.

One River

So it goes with the St. Louis River.

Once an important waterway for Native Americans, explorers and fur traders, the St. Louis River was so polluted by the industrial age everyone assumed it was dead. But now through clean-up efforts, access improvements and new recreational opportunities, the St. Louis has made a comeback.

Industrial polluters have vanished, wildlife has returned, trails have sprung up on its shores, anglers pursue its fish and kayakers bounce through its roaring canyons like pinballs.

So how does a river do a push-up?

Here’s one answer: the One River, Many Stories project.

The project grew out of an idea planted in a West Duluth saloon several years ago. Funded by a Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation grant, the University of Minnesota Duluth journalism program encourages Twin Ports area journalists, artists, bloggers and river rats to report on everything there is to know about the St. Louis.

The project has led to a great series of workshops, a neat museum exhibit and a website that aggregates all the stories told about the glory, history and humanity found along the shores of the St. Louis. The project will run full steam through the month of April.

Of course, Jen is up to her neck in One River, Many Stories. She’s put a ton of time and effort into making the project informative for the public, educational for students, beneficial for Twin Ports area communicators and one big push-up for the St. Louis River.

If you have some time, head over the One River, Many Stories website or Facebook page and do a little web surfing on the St. Louis.

Surfing in the river can be fun.

Especially a kick-ass river like the St. Louis.


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