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A cycle through time: Groups organize bike tour of historic Bemidji sites

A bike from about the 1950s was displayed at the Great Northern Depot before the history bike tour of Bemidji. The depot was the first stop on the tour. It was originally built in 1898 but Bemidji kept growing and so when James J. Hill, Great Northern Railroad mogul, visited Bemidji in 1912, he decided to commission a new depot, which was dedicated in 1913. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 8
Sue Bruns, center, talks about the Old Mississippi Bridge, which was built in 1916 to connect the city of Bemidji with the village of Nymore. It is a barrel vault bridge made of reinforced concrete. The bridge was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1989. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 8
Sue Bruns shows where the M&I Railroad, which went from Minneapolis to International Falls, ran through Bemidji. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)3 / 8
The beach house at South Shore Park was originally proposed by William Aldrich, local director of the National Youth Administration, in 1940. It was used for recreation for about 15 years until the mid-1950s, when NuPly used it for office space. The area was recently reclaimed and cleaned of industrial waste and the South Shore Park opened in June 2017. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)4 / 8
The remnants of Crookston Mill 1 are also still on the South Shore. The mill was built in 1903 and Crookston Lumber purchased the Bemidji Lumber Co.’s mill in 1907. Mill 2 was destroyed by fire in March 1914, but was rebuilt. Mill 1 was then damaged by fire in 1917 in a suspected case of arson. Seven years later, in 1924, a total of 24 million board feet of select white pine was destroyed in a second fire at the mill and it was not rebuilt. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)5 / 8
The Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues were built for the 1937 Winter Carnival in Bemidji. The Paul Bunyan statue is 18 feet tall, about three times the size of Earl Bucken, Bemidji’s mayor at the time, and weighs 2.5 tons. Babe was originally a traveling exhibit, but became a permanent structure in Bemidji in 1939. He was given a major facelift in 2007. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)6 / 8
The Shaynowishkung bronze statue was made by Gareth Curtiss of Olympia, Wash., and was based on an original photograph of Shaynowishkung. The statue went up in 2015. Shaynowishkung is also known as “Chief Bemidji” although he was never a chief. He befriended the Carson brothers, George Earl and Merian Ellsworth, when they came to the area to establish a trading post on the east bank of the Mississippi River in 1888. .(Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)7 / 8
The final stop was the Beltrami County Courthouse, built in 1902 and ready for occupancy in 1903. Small open spaces near the top of the dome were used during the Cold War by members of the Ground Observation Corps. An addition was built onto the courthouse in 1994. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)8 / 8

BEMIDJI—The Bemidji Parks and Recreation Department and the Beltrami County Historical Society teamed up on Bemidji's 122nd birthday on May 20 for a bike tour of Bemidji's history.

The ride was the first of its kind and started out at the Great Northern Depot, home of the Beltrami County History Center, and ended at the Beltrami County Courthouse. About 10 cyclists went along for stops that included the Old Mississippi Bridge, the South Shore of Lake Bemidji, the Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox Statues, the Shaynowishkung (Chief Bemidji) statue and the Carnegie Library.

Jillian Gandsey

Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at 218-333-9786, 218-996-1216 or at 

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