Day Trip 5 - Pine River, Unique Present and Past
This six- mile segment of the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway was added to the byway system in 2002. It begins and/or ends at the junction of CSAH 1 and CSAH 15 and travels to the community of Pine River.
The Pine River waterway begins its journey to the Mississippi approximately twenty miles northwest of Pine River. Over the centuries, Native Americans and explorers, looking for the source of the Mississippi, have plied its waters. Modern day explorers paddle their canoes along the State designated canoe route. During the logging era of the mid-to late 1800s, thousands of board feet of timber were floated down the Pine to waiting lumber mills to the south. The Pine River area was once described as "having the richest stand of timber in the Old Northwest". The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway crosses the "Pine" in the City of Pine River. You can still launch a canoe where explorers and lumber barons once made camp.
George Angus Barclay, the founder, established Pine River in 1873, building Barclay's Trading Post, which rested on the shores of the Pine River. He bought, sold and traded goods with trappers, homesteaders, Indians and others who came to this part of Minnesota. Eventually, Barclay built a large hotel in Pine River. It was in that hotel that he met his end when someone shot and killed him as he sat at a table inside. The murderer was never found and the case remains open today. The hotel has since burned to the ground.
Many interesting and unique stores line the streets in Pine River today! Visit gift shops and florists. You'll find unique gift and antique shops, quilt shops, a health food store and plenty of businesses to take care of your every need. Take your pick of small town cafes and eateries such as the Pine River Bakery, a true bakery featuring fresh baked goods daily or try the new Pine River Pantry for that special coffee or a delicious home-made soup. For all you fixer-upper folks that like to shop there's Gardiner's Hardware & Furniture - "So much more than an old-fashioned hardware store." Pine River has always prided itself on being a year round, full service community where you can purchase anything from a can of peas to a new car and you'll find fun and excitement are part of the retail picture in Pine River all year long.
The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway begins in Pine River at the Pine River Information Center, a State of Minnesota Affiliate Information Center. Stop by this log building for a look at many historic displays all kinds of area and regional information. The info center is located at the intersection of Highway 371 and Barclay Avenue in Pine River.
Pine River on summer Fridays is the place to be for the famous Pine River Duck Races, held at 12:45 p.m. at the Pine River Dam. Rent a duck (no live ducks here!) for a dollar and race it down the Pine River for a number of fun prizes. And, you’re invited to attend one of the free Pine River fishing seminars held each Friday from mid-June through mid-August at 10 A.M. above the Pine River Dam. Learn from professional guides how to catch the “big ones”.
Traveling east out of Pine River on CSAH 1 watch for a huge boulder field on the north side of the highway. Some say these are Paul Bunyan's marbles. Others know that they were left by one of many glaciers that passed through this part of Minnesota eons ago.
At CSAH 15, choose that leg of the route or continue on #1 east to Crosslake, Breezy Point, Ideal Corners and Pequot Lakes. No matter which direction you choose, you'll find surprises around every bend and lots of fun stops along the way.