Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Cary J. Griffith Presents Gunflint Falling

Fri, Feb 16, 6:00 pm | Free | Drury Lane Books

Event Navigation

Cary J. Griffith will be speaking about his new book, Gunflint Falling: Blowdown in the Boundary Waters, published with the University of Minnesota Press.

Award-winning author Cary J. Griffith grew up among the woods, fields and emerald waters of Eastern Iowa. His childhood fostered a lifelong love of wild places. He earned a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa and an M.A. in library science from the University of Minnesota. His books explore the natural world. In nonfiction, he covers the borderlands between civilization and wild places. In fiction, he focuses on the ways some people use flora and fauna to commit crimes, while others with more reverence and understanding of the natural world leverage their knowledge to bring criminals to justice. He lives with his family in a suburb of Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

Book Synopsis:

On July 4, 1999, in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a bizarre confluence of meteorological events resulted in the most damaging blowdown in the region’s history. Originating over the Dakotas, the midsummer windstorm developed amid unusually high heat and water-saturated forests and moved steadily east, bearing down on Fargo, North Dakota, and damaging land as it crossed the Minnesota border. Gunflint Falling tells the story of this devastating storm from the perspectives of those who were on the ground before, during, and after the catastrophic event – from first-time visitors to the north woods, to returning paddlers to Forest Service Rangers.

The pre-dawn forecasts from the National Weather Service in Duluth for that Sunday of the holiday weekend predicted the day would be “warm and humid. Partly sunny with a thirty percent chance of thunderstorms.” But as the afternoon and evening settled over the Boundary Waters, the first eyewitness accounts began to tell a dramatic and terrifying story. Five friends camping on Lake Polly watched in wonder as the sky turned green and the winds began to whip. They scrambled to pull canoes on shore and secure tarps when a tree snapped and struck one of them in the head, rendering her unconscious. Three women enjoying their last day of a camping trip near the end of the Gunflint Trail took shelter in their tent as winds increased. Water drenched the nylon walls as trees crashed around them, one flattening the tent and pinning a woman beneath its weight. A family vacationing at their cabin dodged falling trees and strained against straight-line winds as they sprinted from the cabin to the safest place they knew: a crawl space underneath it. They watched in awe as trees snapped and toppled, their twisted root balls torn out of the water-logged earth—as they prayed their cabin would hold.

By the time the storm began to subside, falling trees had injured approximately sixty people, and most needed to be medevacked to safety. Amazingly, no one died. The historic storm laid down timber that would later blaze in the Ham Lake fire of 2007, ultimately reshaping the region’s forests in ways we have yet to fully understand.


Fri, Feb 16
6:00 pm
Event Categories:


Drury Lane Books
12 E. Wisconsin St.
Grand Marais, MN 55604 United States