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Grand Marais is the only incorporated municipality on the northwestern shore of Lake Superior in Cook County, and its county seat. Situated in the northeastern corner of Minnesota, the area was founded along a large marsh, which encompassed about twenty acres in the early fur-trading days, and Grand Marais is French for “great marsh.” The city is situated at the head of a small bay and harbor. At one time, another town, named Chippewa City, was founded on another small bay separated from the harbor by a slight projecting point and a short beach, but Chippewa City dwindled after Highway 61 was built through it, taking up most of its housing area. Grand Marais Harbor is protected by Artist’s Point, a barrier island formed by lava that was connected to the mainland by gravel deposited by lake currents, forming a tombolo. Today, Grand Marais is a gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and a regional arts and crafts hub. As the Superior Hiking Trail passes near the city, and the Judge C.R. Magney State Park is nearby, the city’s economy is largely based on tourism today. Grand Marais is just over a hundred miles northeast of Duluth and forty miles southwest of the United States’ border with Canada. The small communities of Croftville and Hovland are located along Highway 61 to the northeast, while Lutsen and Tofte are southwest of Grand Marais, also along Highway 61.


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