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The recreated world of 1804: The North West Company Fur Post

David Goran

The North West Company Fur Post is a reconstructed fur trade post located along the Snake River, one and a half miles west of present-day Pine City in northern Minnesota, United States

. The post was established in the fall of 1804 by John Sayer, a partner in the North West Company. Sayer left Fort St. Louis (near modern day Superior, WI) in the fall of 1804 with eight voyageurs. During the winters, the voyageurs would collect the pelts of beaver, otter, muskrat, deer, bear, marten, and other animals whose hides were useful. Photos: Minnesota Historical Society/Flickr

A reconstructed fur post from the winter of 1804.

A reconstructed fur post from the winter of 1804.

The site operated for several years, although its exact period of operation is unknown. The discovery of artifacts in the 1930s revealed the site after a local Pine City resident found artifacts such as musket flints in the soil.

The North West Company Fur Post is one of 26 historic sites and museums operated by the Minnesota Historical Society.

The North West Company Fur Post is one of 26 historic sites and museums operated by the Minnesota Historical Society.

 

Northwest Fur Post Wall.

Northwest Fur Post Wall.

He returned to the site over the next three decades to explore it. In 1958, he found a book, Five Fur Traders in the North West, that contained the journal of John Sayer. The Pine City resident contacted the Minnesota Historical Society and explained what he had found.

Canoe - Northwest Fur Post Visitor's Center Gallery.

Canoe – Northwest Fur Post Visitor’s Center Gallery.

Excavation in the 1960s added to knowledge about it, enabling accurate reconstruction of the post. The fur trade, which had been going on for more than 100 years further east, was mutually beneficial since the Indians received the products of early industrialization. The furs were sold to Europeans who made felt hats and fur coats.

Northwest Fur Post Visitor's Center.

Northwest Fur Post Visitor’s Center.

 

Gift Shop.

Gift Shop.

 

Trade Gear.

Trade Gear.

The post has been reconstructed and furnished to represent the period from the winter of 1804–05. The museum is open in the summer and costumed guides help interpret the site. The visitor center features exhibits about the post’s history, a great room, fireplace, and retail store.

Visitor's Center Gallery.

Visitor’s Center Gallery.

 

Visitor Center.

Visitor Center.

 

Visitor Center.

Visitor Center.

The visitor center, а 10,400 square-foot building, houses an expansive exhibit gallery with a 24-foot birch canoe, a 30-foot tall stone fireplace, and a gift shop.