MN Reads: "Gunflint Falling" by Cary J. Griffith
On July 4th, 1999, straight-line winds hit the Boundary Waters. The devastating weather event caught thousands of BWCAW visitors off-guard, felled 48 million trees, and triggered a massive search and rescue effort.
Those dark days are recounted in Cary J. Griffith's Gunflint Falling: Blowdown in the Boundary Waters, a 2023 publication by the University of Minnesota Press. Griffith tells the story through the eyes of those who were there and lets the events unfold sequentially, beginning with the serenity and excitement of a holiday weekend in Northern Minnesota. "None of them really knew what was coming," says Griffith. The forecast leading into those days didn't show much that would have suggested severe storms.
With any non-fiction book, research is required. The timing of this event puts it just on the other side of the technological explosion, meaning that gathering facts wasn't as easy as pulling up videos and social media posts. "If it would have happened today, people would have been in the forest with cell phones," says Griffith. "They would have taken videos, they would have taken pictures... people didn't really know that this happened. It was so isolated in the Boundary Waters at the time."
Minnesota Reads is produced at The North 103.3 with funding provided in part by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.