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Annual Report 2011: Section offers little-known facts

The "Did You Know..." special section in today's Pioneer was developed by the editorial staff to introduce - or in some case remind - readers of the unique character of the Bemidji area.

Some unusual features include landmarks residents and visitors see every day. The Bemidji Public Library's unusual architecture, for example, is like no other in the world. As soon as someone points out Architectural Resources architect Mark Wirtanen's solution to fitting a building about the same square footage as the lot size on the property in an interesting design, many will say to themselves, "How come I never noticed that before?"

Some information relates to quirks of the area, such as the U.S. Postal Service's original misspelling of the Beltrami County seat's name.

Other entries offer tidbits of little known local history, geography biology and folklore. For example, the Great Pinewood Fire of 1973, which consumed more than 2,000 acres, doesn't hold a cinder to the Arizona wildfires burning this spring. But for this lush, green area North Country, it was a major conflagration.

Residents give directions using the Paul and Babe statues as reference points, and few visitors pass through Bemidji without taking photos of what Kodak cited as the second most photographed outdoor sculptures after Mount Rushmore. But there is a wrinkle in the Paul Bunyan story that visitors must travel to Kelliher to see - a special monument on the east end of town.

Because of Henry Schoolcraft's willingness to ask direction, Bemidji - not Buena Vista, Cass Lake or any of the early 1800s claimants - is "The First City on the Mississippi." And early curling organizers and more recent promoters brought the sport to Olympic levels. Both men's and women's Olympic curling teams originating in Bemidji made Bemidji "Curling Capital of the World."

"Did You Know..." was a project the Pioneer editorial staff had fun researching and writing. We hope readers enjoy it as much as we did.