Contact Us:
Phone: (218)663-7150
Fax: (218)663-7980
Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter

2/25/15 - It's real winter here now, with roughly three feet of pure white snow on the ground and consistently cold temperatures. The Sawbill Trail is beautiful, but mostly snow covered. Here is a picture of what happens when a long, snowy road is combined with -20 degree temperature.


The most common question we get during the summer months is "What do you do in the winter?" For me, playing music with my friends is one of my favorite winter (or any season) activities. Recently, Eric Frost and I were taped for appearance on the "PlayList" on WDSE - Channel 8, the public TV station in Duluth. Our set will be broadcast tomorrow, at 9 pm and repeated at 3:30 pm on Sunday. I'll post the YouTube version here on the newsletter as soon as it's available. - Bill

Here is last week's edition of the Cook County West End News from WTIP-FM, North Shore Community Radio.

2/14/15 - Here is three week's worth of Cook County West End News on this cold, windy Valentine's Day! - Bill

West End News 2/12/2015

West End News 2/5/2015

West End News 1/29/2015

All from WTIP-FM, North Shore Community Radio.

2/3/15 - Jeanne and Wayne Dezell have been camping at the Sawbill Lake Campground since they were kids back in the '50s. Jeanne sent along this photo that she found among her parent's things. She recalls taking the picture with her new Kodak Instamatic when she was a little girl.

This is "Uno," the industrious Finn who kept Sawbill Creek flowing by turning his water wheel 24/7. He was a reflection of Sawbill Lodge owner Dick Raiken's (his birth name was Toivo Raikenen) sense of humor. "Uno" was located between the walking bridge and the driving bridge which is visible behind him in the picture. I think he was on duty from the mid-1940s until the mid-1960s. He always had a red bandana and a pint whiskey bottle in his back pockets. We still have Uno's head, torso and arms in storage here at Sawbill Canoe Outfitters.

1/22/15 - We received this note from or friend Becky Rom. Becky is the daughter of Bill and Barb Rom, who were canoe outfitting pioneers in Ely.

Hi - As you know, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness/Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is hosting a series of talks this weekend in the Twin Cities about the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining to the Boundary Waters and surrounding area. Would you please send out the invitation to these talks to your friends and family, and perhaps your customer list? Would you post this on your website? Three of the talks are described on the attached postcard. In addition, the Izaak Walton League is hosting a talk at REI on Saturday.

We are also asking that people contact Congresswoman Betty McCollum's office in St. Paul with a request that she permanently protect the Boundary Waters. Betty is the ranking member of a key committee in the House, and can influence Boundary Waters policy. Phone calls and emails to her office are best. We will be putting up more detail on our website in the next day or two, but calls and emails can have a very simple message (why you care and please protect) and should start right now.



Thursday, January 22
Ridgedale-Hennepin County Library, RHR Room
6:30 pm Open House
7:00 - 8:30 pm Presentation
12601 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka

Saturday, January 24
Bachman’s Floral Gift & Garden, Heritage Room
1:30 Open House
2:00 - 3:30 pm Presentation
6010 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis

Saturday, January 24 - Sponsored by the Izaak Walton League
REI Bloomington
6:00 Open House
7:00 - 8:30 pm Presentation
750 W. American Blvd., Bloomington

Sunday, January 25
2:30 pm Open House
3:00 - 4:30 pm Presentation
Turtle Lake Room 110
4580 Victoria St. N., Shoreview


1/21/15 - This is the time of year when we recruit new Sawbill crew members for the coming season.

We look for people who have experience in canoe country, passion for wilderness, personal optimism, enthusiasm, good personal adjustment, and demonstrated willingness to work. We usually only consider applicants who are 18 and have finished a year of college, or equivalent.

You are not hired for a particular job. We reschedule all the jobs on a weekly basis and you are generally able to choose the actual work you do. Inherent to our unique "work credit" system is a strong commitment to trust and cooperation. As a result, very little of the traditional employer/employee relationship is necessary.

We work around crew members school schedules, but we need at least some employees from April through October, so your dates of availability are important.

There are more details and an application available on our website.

Sawbill Crew 2014

1/10/15 - Longtime Sawbill paddler, Mary Bart, sent along this little note a few days ago. - Bill

Hiya Bill,

I don't know if you had a part in this or not, but son Chris & his brothers got me this framed 3-D topographical map of Sawbill Lake for Christmas, and blew my mind away with it. Boy, is it COOL! It's got water depths, and campsites marked on it - we can see where we've been, and it's just so neat! Chris got one too (or his wife got it for him, I don't know which) of Cherokee Lake, and we've been comparing depths, sizes of the lakes, campsites we've been to etc - the very first trip we took our kids on when Chris was 9 or 10 years old was to Cherokee, so it's a special lake to him. Come to think of it, MY very first trip up there was also to Cherokee! I thought I was gonna die on the 180 portage, but one of the other adults kept assuring me that there was really a BAR at the end of the last portage and I could get a beer there. I believed him. Anyway, we are both enjoying our cool maps of lakes we love!

And I am in the preliminary planning stages of putting together another ladies trip up there this coming summer - I think we can pull it off! We'll see.

Hope you're keeping warm and dry.

1/5/15 - Honoring a long standing tradition, numerous current and former Sawbill crew members returned to celebrate the coming of the new year. - Bill

The traditional midnight toast on the frozen surface of Sawbill Lake.

Tess transports champagne to the lake with a technique she learned in Botswana.

How to chill champagne - Sawbill style.

Jess' first act of 2015 is creating a snow angel.

1/2/15 - Happy New Year from the Sawbill crew!

Here is the Cook County West End News from January 1st, 2015 and December 24th, 2014 from WTIP-FM, North Community Radio.

12/23/14 - Happy holidays to the entire Sawbill extended family!

It is absolutely gorgeous here right now with 14"+ of snow on the ground and the forest draped with a festive layer of snow. - Bill

Deputy of Outfitter Security, Roy and Chief of Outfitter Security, Phoebe, use the fresh snow to track terrorist squirrel activity in the wilderness.

The view down to the Sawbill Canoe Landing from the front of the Sawbill Store.

The canoe yard behind the Sawbill Store. The canoes are sleeping in the Dome.

Here is last week's edition of the Cook County West End News from WTIP, North Shore Community Radio.

12/16/14 - After a few days of melting, winter has returned in the most pleasant way here at Sawbill. We now have an honest foot of snow on the ground, the trees are snow covered and the lake is frozen solid. It is enough to put you in the holiday spirit!

Here is last week's edition of the Cook County West End News from WTIP-FM, North Shore Community Radio. - Bill

12/4/14 - Our phones and internet were down all day yesterday, thanks to a fiber optic cable break in Tofte. It's the price we pay for living in paradise!

Amy and Dave Freeman have finished their epic canoe trip from Ely, Minnesota to Washington D.C. For more information on what they are up to, you can listen to this week's edition of the Cook County West End News or go to the Paddle to DC website.

Amy and Dave just hours after arriving in D.C. I can't remember the last time I've seen them wearing something other than their paddling clothes. Photo by Caitlyn Ward.

Here is last week's edition of the Cook County West End News. - Bill

12/3/14 - Adam West, former Sawbill crew member, brought this cool video to our attention. It was filmed in August, 2011 on South Temperance Lake, which is a day's paddle from Sawbill. - Bill

12/1/14 - Sawbill's own, Adam Hansen, now an attorney, had a case heard by the Supreme Court of the United States today. For you legal nerds, the case is Nickols v. Mortgage Bankers Association.

Former Sawbill crew members at the Supreme Court today: (l to r) Max Wilson 2000 - 2003; Adam Hansen 1980 - 2005; Nathan Ter Beest 2000 - 2003.

We had a visit this weekend from Tom and Margit Berg, long time Sawbill canoeists and friends. After coffee and conversation, Tom and Margit took a walk on Sawbill Lake. They were kind enough to send along these pictures of Phoebe (Chief of Outfitter Security) and Roy (Deputy Chief of Outfitter Security), who were thrilled to accompany the Bergs on their hike.


Happy dogs - coming and going.

11/21/14 - Dave and Amy Freeman, our wonderful and over-qualified guides here at Sawbill, are nearing the end of their latest epic human powered journey. They have paddled and sailed from Ely, Minnesota to Washington D.C. to deliver a canoe that is a floating petition signed by people who are concerned with the environmental and economic impact of proposed mining projects near the BWCA Wilderness.

Last night, they gave a talk at the University of Delaware, where they were greeted by long-time Sawbill canoeists Jean and Richard Krohn.

A Sawbill reunion in Delaware. (l-r) Amy Freeman, Dave Freeman, Jean Krohn, Richard Krohn. Jean is proudly wearing her Sawbill t-shirt.

Steve West, from the Duluth area, is one of the leading fishing experts in the Sawbill area. He sent along this picture from his latest vist, just a little more than a month ago.

Steve is holding the catch for his entire party, so no need to call the game warden.

Here is this week's edition of the Cook County West End News from WTIP-FM, North Shore Community Radio.

11/20/14 - I failed to mention that Sawbill Lake froze over for the season on Monday, November 10th. It would have frozen a few days before that except high winds kept it open.

We've been receiving some great pictures from talented photographers. Dave Brislance is a Lutsen, Minnesota based wildlife photographer. He was kind enough to share some close ups of a bull moose he saw just off the Sawbill Trail back in October. - Bill

Photo by David Brislance.

Photo by David Brislance.

Photo by David Brislance.


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