Long-awaited Tettegouche State Park visitor center opens
The new Tettegouche State Park visitor center officially opened for business Thursday as the anchor of one of the North Shore’s most popular tourist stops.
Ground was broken in July 2012 for the $7 million building that first was scheduled to be ready for the public in 2013 but was delayed due to bad weather and delays in delivery of some materials, state officials said.
The new center, about five miles east of Silver Bay along Minnesota Highway 61, is a joint effort between the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, with some funding from the Federal Highway Administration.
The 11,000-square-foot building and rest stop portion of the state park will remain free and open to the public for short-term use, as was the smaller, 1986-
vintage building that it replaces. When the old structure was built, Tettegouche was seeing about 28,000 visitors a year. By 2012, the annual number of visitors had jumped to 332,000 visitors, and it was clear more room was needed.
A state park vehicle permit is needed for anyone staying for more than a few hours at the park, state officials noted Thursday.
The energy-efficient facility was built with extra-insulated walls and roof, with low-energy LED lighting and solar panels that will provide about 36 percent of the building’s electrical needs.
The visitor’s center will have restrooms and vending machines available 24 hours a day for travelers, with staffing from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round. There’s a great room with a fireplace and view of Lake Superior, and a large meeting room that can be rented for family events, weddings and meetings. There’s also a lakeside patio, picnic shelter, covered porch and amphitheater.
The new center also houses interpretive exhibits about the natural and cultural significance of the park.
The new building serves as a central office location for three state parks — Tettegouche, Temperance River and George H. Crosby Manitou — along with two state forest recreation areas, Finland and Eckbeck, and two state park waysides, Caribou River and Ray Berglund.
Established in 1975, Tettegouche is the fifth-most-visited of Minnesota’s 75 state parks. The name Tettegouche comes from a French-Canadian phrase meaning “meeting place.”