It is hard to believe it was ten years to the day the Boundary Waters "Blowdown" occurred; often referenced by alumni as the "4th July Incident".
On July 4th, 1999, Northern Tier staff was aware of an oncoming storm and while finishing lunch in the dining hall when the storm hit. The wind and rain was immense to the point you could not see out the windows. When the storm cleared staff looking out the glass pane window towards the dining bell finally realized the extent of the damage: "Wasn't there a large tree there before?". The Sommers base was left strewn with fallen trees and without power or phones. Likewise the eastern part of the Boundary Waters was also devastated with fallen trees. While equipment, portages, and campsites were left covered with trees amazingly injuries were minimal.
Below you will find links to material and photos describing the incident.
Where you on staff or in the Boundary Waters at the time? Post your memories below!
Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association Newsletter Summer 1999
- Includes post storm photos of base
- Article: "July 4, 1999: BWCAW, Sommers Canoe Base, Hit by Destructive Winds"
- Article: "Alumni Work Project to help Base Recover from July Storm"
Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association Newsletter Winter/Fall 1999
- Includes post storm clean-up photos
- Article "Give A Hol-Ry And They Will Come"
Minnesota Public Radio: Mainstreet Radio Special - Boundary Waters Blowdown
- Listen to radio segments and view slide show (bottom). Includes interview with former Northern Tier General Manager Doug Hirdler.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Boundary Waters Blowdown Pages
- Photos of damage