North Shore Town Bands Together to Create Heritage Center

Northland Uncovered: Knife River Heritage & Cultural Center

KNIFE RIVER, Minn. – Knife River Residents are working together to create a space to highlight the past.

A group is hoping to create a Knife River Heritage and Cultural Center.

This would feature the former Knife River Train Depot and Crusader II fish tug.

“We want people to be aware of the history of our town before it fades into the past,” explained Paul von Goertz, a member of the steering committee to create the center.

Although the depot has been around for decades, it wasn’t always in Knife River.

“Originally it was located in Duluth and in 1900 they moved it by a big, railroad flatcar to Knife River because they needed a depot,” said Randy Ellestad, the current owner of the depot.

It was used until 1963.

The fish tug made its journey to Knife River just over a year ago.

It was given to the community by the Lake County Historical Society, however, its origin was in Knife River.

The Crusader II was built in 1939 and this feat warranted a visit from a royal.

“Crown Prince Olaf came and Christened this boat in 1939,” said Bob Entzion, whose grandparents built the tug.

Entzion believes preserving this past is imperative to show the younger generation, and visitors, how this history affects them.

“My grandpa died when I was six-years-old of brain cancer and I remember at that young age the work ethic of fishermen on Lake Superior. I remember him bringing in 100-pound boxes of fish and all the hard work that they had, and I think that’s the key of what we’re trying to establish with this heritage center and this boat being part of it,” said Entzion.

Ellestad supports this sentiment because it’s something he believes this town can be proud of, “Knife River’s been a long time community that rolls up its sleeves and digs in and helps out and takes care of things, so I’m expecting a similar exchange of energy here.

After a successful town meeting explaing their goals, the group is moving forward with plans to make the center a reality.

They will now work with the St. Louis and Lake County Rail Authority to plan for long-term usage of the land where the depot now stands.

Then, they’ll look at bids submitted to restore the building and Crusader to create the center.

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