Iona’s Beach, Lake Superior
Finnish immigrants Iona and John Lind started the Twin Points Resort on Lake Superior in 1938, back when the area was truly remote. Iona had an impressive run. She operated the resort—a collection of tiny cabins as well as a general store—until the early 1990s. At the age of 85, she donated the land to the state of Minnesota, which demolished the buildings and slowly turned the property into a natural area.
Despite its beauty, this place is a little sad because it represents an era that has mostly passed. If mom and pop resort buildings still stand in these parts, they are usually overgrown or falling down. Most have been replaced with obscenely priced “lodges” accompanied by slick sports bars, golf courses, and all other manner nonsense. But there are still glimmers of the old life to be seen and it really is worth a trip for the original buildings whose construction and design tell a clear story about the Scandinavian immigrants who built them.
The spot now known as Iona’s Beach offers a few hidden trails that lead to grassy clearings above the water, which are perfect for napping and picnicking. The official trail leads to Iona’s namesake beach, a long strip of pink rhyolite stone that makes a kind of sparkly sound when the waves recede back into the lake. The water is too cold for swimming, though—temps in Superior average 35 F/2 C. !!
And finally this YouTube video, which is really one of those things that makes me love the internet so much—someone uploaded a 7-minute home video of their August 1986 stay at Twin Points Resort. Watch it just for the resort sign at marker 0:16. But if you’ve got more time, I’d recommend the whole thing, shaky camera technique, awkward zooming, and all. There is something magical about its slowness and mundanity—it felt very tangible to me and present to me. I hope you enjoy it, too.
Vintage photos courtesy of the wonderful Early Resorts of Minnesota blog