Terry Mattson: The ‘new’ North Shore Trail honors C.J. RamstadThere are very few trails named after people in Minne-sota, but, starting this winter, Duluth will be home to one more.
By: Terry Mattson, Budgeteer News
There are very few trails named after people in Minne-sota, but, starting this winter, Duluth will be home to one more.
The first one, which you’re probably already familiar with, is the Willard Munger State Trail. Named after the Minnesota state legislator from Duluth, it starts near the Willard Munger Inn and travels southwest to Hinckley. With a length of 63 miles, it is one of the longest paved trails in the world. Nicknamed “Mr. Environment,” Munger served 43 years in the Minnesota Legislature before his death in 1999.
Munger devoted his life to trail development and environmental protection while sponsoring or advocating almost every piece of Minnesota legislation related to natural resources over a half-century. Long before “green” became a topic of conversation, Munger was a passionate environmentalist who made Minnesota a better place.
Munger will get some company when the existing North Shore State Trail becomes the C.J. Ramstad Memorial/North Shore State Trail this winter.
Ramstad, the former owner, publisher and editor of numerous snowmobile and off-road sports publications and a motorized recreation advocate, died in 2007 along with his son J.J. in an automobile accident. In a promotional piece for Explore Minnesota, he listed the North Shore Trail among his favorites, calling it a “treasure” of the Arrowhead region. The North Shore State Trail stretches 143 miles between Duluth and Grand Marais. It is known for its dramatic elevation changes, tree-lined twisty path and wildlife.
The name change was initiated by local resident Greg Sorenson, who serves as a regional director of the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association; legislative promotion by Rep. David Dill; and buy-in from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Legislation to amend the trail name was submitted and approved in the 2009 session.
The official name change occurred Aug. 1, and DNR literature will reflect the change this winter.
The North Shore Trail was the obvious choice when determining the appropriate path to carry Ramstad’s name. In addition to being a favorite trail, it’s also a multi-use motorized recreation trail primarily on public lands, which also fit well with Ramstad’s passions.
“Naming trails after someone is not something the DNR generally encourages,” said Ron Potter, the department’s policy and program manager for parks and trails.
Potter said there was no opposition to rename the trail, but pointed out that one condition of the name change is that it be at no cost to the DNR. New trail signs will be paid for by private individuals and groups. (Sorenson envisions larger informational signs at popular trailheads.)
“C.J. Ramstad is an icon in the snowmobile world and it’s no mystery that the North Shore State Trail is a major snowmobile trail,” said Potter, who sees the new name not just as an honor to Ramstad but also a way to help local businesses market the trail. “What better name to have on a trail than C.J. Ramstad? Anyone who knows anything about snowmobiling has heard of C.J.”
Through the years, no one knew the snowmobile industry like Ramstad. Whether it was clubs, associations, political officials, tourism interests, OEM’s race teams or even competitors, everyone called C.J. for his opinion. He was also a big part of helping Visit Duluth create snowmobiling’s greatest race week, the AMSOIL Duluth National Snocross at Spirit Mountain.
“This was just a natural thing to do in his honor,” Dill said. “C.J. is one of those people who will not be replaced. There will be many people that do the work that he did, but his infectious personality, his passion for what he did — that he lived every day and every minute to fulfill — is undeniable, irrefutable and irreplaceable.”