Tours of Boise Paper Solutions (400 2nd St., 218/285-5011) let you see one of the world’s largest and fastest papermaking machines—it turns out about 1,500 tons of paper per day. The free 75-minute tours (8:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri.) are available during the summer. No open-toed shoes or children under age 10 are allowed, and reservations are recommended.
The Koochiching County Historical Society (214 6th Ave., 218/283-4316, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., closed Sat.–Sun., $4 adults) runs a pair of side-by-side museums. The excellent Koochiching County Historical Museum begins with the first Paleo-Indians and continues through the modern day with interesting discussions of past industries such as gold mining, fishing, and the fur trade. Highlights of the collection include a birch bark canoe, beaver felt hat, Native American crafts, and Jesuit rings. A visit here is a great way to round out your Voyageurs National Park experience.
International Falls’ most famous son is commemorated in the Bronko Nagurski Museum. Often considered the greatest football player ever, the inaugural Pro Football Hall of Famer played both fullback and defensive tackle during nine years with the Chicago Bears in the 1930s and ’40s and was the only player to ever win All-American honors at two positions in the same year.
After retirement from football and professional wrestling, he farmed and ran a gas station in town. Exhibits include his size-22 Hall of Fame induction ring and a copy of his first contract (for $5,000), and you can watch his exploits in a 14-minute video. Out in front of the museums, a 26-foot-tall Smokey Bear with two cubs at his feet greets visitors—locals dress them up for the winter with earmuffs, gloves, and scarves and give them fishing gear in the summer.
The private Sportsmen’s Service Wildlife Museum (424 3rd Ave., 218/283-2411, 7:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. daily, $1) has about 150 Minnesota mammal and bird mounts on display, including moose, wolves, lynx, lots of owls and ducks, and an albino skunk. There are also a few Native American and other historical displays.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition