For decades guests at Bearskin have been captivated by the remarkable historical minutiae found on a large old map in Bearskin’s Main Lodge. Entitled “Ye Map of Camp Bearskin,” the map is dated 1935, and shows details of a world within 8 miles of Bearskin Lodge that disappeared long ago – private cabins and hunting shacks, logging camps, railroad tracks, stands of virgin timber, areas of excellent moose hunting, secret walleye and lake trout spots.
The story goes that the map was hand painted by Nell Stolp Smock, a watercolor artist and children’s book illustrator, although mysteriously, her name has been carefully erased from the bottom of the picture. The large map is encased in a log frame which is a work of art in its own right, clearly hand-built and carved with great artistry.
At the moment, the map is missing from the wall of Bearskin Lodge, which worries visitors who are accustomed to routinely seeing the map hanging in its special place of honor in the Lodge lobby. After all these years the map is somewhat water damaged and wrinkled. We decided it had enough historical importance that we should bring it to a specialist in the conservation of historical documents in hopes of preventing additional deterioration. We’d like future generations to also enjoy viewing “Ye Map of Camp Bearskin.”
Mary Britton Clouse and Bert Clouse run Book & Paper Artifacts, a business that specializes in saving old documents. They also perform urban chicken rescues, but that’s another story. (In fact, here is that story: http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1458341.html )
Many of the old maps belonging to the James Ford Bell Library at the U of M were restored by Mary and Bert. They found the Camp Bearskin map to be quite fascinating, so they were excited to take on the project. It will take many weeks to complete the job, as the process is extremely complex. Mary and Bert have agreed to take pictures as they work and will keep us posted on the progress of the restoration. We will post the pictures and updates in the blog so you can see the process as it occurs.