Itasca State Park Exhibits

View from the top of the Itasca State Park fire tower

Read along with audio recordings used in exhibits at Itasca State Park.

If you haven’t already visited the park, we encourage you to do so and look for these exhibits. Think of it as your own personal scavenger hunt!

Fire Spotters, Aiton Heights Fire Tower

Fire spotters take the first step in fighting fires by spotting smoke. Find out what they have to say about their work. Many spotters in the 50s, 60s and 70s were women.

Cheryl Grover

Listen 861Kb

Well, it's a long day. We would have to climb the tower by nine, ten o'clock in the morning, because the dew would help prevent a fire from getting too far away. And then our day would end sometimes when the sun was setting.

I could bring a book with and read, because there was no entertainment; there was no radio. And then we would just look for smoke - that was our job.

In the middle of the top of the tower there was this great, big tool. It was 360 degrees and they had measurements. I had to use that tool to zoom in on where that pillar of smoke was.

We reported the fire on a two-way radio system. It was challenging, and yet it was rewarding.

Sue Zick

Listen 891Kb

My mom's name was a Donna Pihlaja but she went by Dolly. The foresters used to call her "Old Eagle Eye" because she was really good at picking up a smoke.

She's the one that actually trained me. I was scared to death of heights. All day I sat and worried about having to climb back down again. When I climbed the tower, I kept thinking of the money that I was going to make to help buy Christmas presents for our kids.

I would be up in the tower with her sometimes and she'd say, "I got a smoke," and I would be looking and looking and couldn’t see anything until it got big enough. The forester would come over and say, "tell your mom she was right on with that distance on that fire."

I was very proud of my mom when she worked in the tower. She was really good at that job.

Welcome, Maadaadizi Trail

Ojibwemowin and Dakota Iapi speakers introduce this trail in their own languages and then in English.


Listen 552Kb - Bradley Harrington

Bima'adooyan o'ow miikanens, giga-maajii-nagadenimaag ingiw awesiinyag eyaajig omaa megweyaak. Giga-nagishkawaa ajidamoo, zhingos, gaag, gookooko'oo, waabooz, apakwaanaajiinh miinawaa meme.

Dakota Iapi

Listen 622Kb - Glenn Wasicuna and Gwen Westerman

De ohna de kiŋhaŋ, wamanica toked nipi sdodwicayaye kte: zic̣a, hiṭuŋkasaŋ, pahiŋ, hiŋhaŋ ṭaŋka, maṡtiŋca, ḣupahu wakihdakedaŋ caŋḳaṫoṫo


As you follow this trail along, you will start to know those animals that are here in the woods. You will meet the squirrel, weasel, porcupine, great horned owl, rabbit, bat and the pileated woodpecker.

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