Local historian Brian Finstad, a native of Gordon, Wis., was recently a guest on a podcast from the Superior Telegram talking about the history of the important trail connecting the St. Croix River and Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior.
This month’s episode of Archive Dive focuses on the Grand Foot Path, a trail that traverses from St. Croix Falls to Madeline Island. Known by many names over the years, it was used for travel by foot, horseback and via stagecoach as the area developed. Echos of the foot path remain as various trails in Douglas County.
Telegram reporter Maria Lockwood is joined by Brian Finstad, historian with the Gordon-Wascott Historical Society, as they discuss the trail’s Native American origins, and how it grew to become an important travel circuit. Finstad, a native of Gordon, grew up with the foot path “in his backyard” as segments went right through property his family owned.
“It is always interesting to me that there were communities that were very historically connected together because of how people traveled that today, we don’t think of as very connected,” said Finstad. “The Grand Foot Path (St. Croix Trail, Bayfield Trail, Stagecoach Line) fell out of use when the railroads came to the area. As soon as the railroads came in, it very quickly disappeared. Even in the 1880s, you’ll find that they were already writing about it as it was something from long ago history.”