NORTHOME, Minn. — The landscape of northern Minnesota is plastered with pines, but few are as majestic... or old... as those in a pristine plot known as "The Lost 40."
Our ongoing tour of the state's most spectacular spots takes us to Northome, where the untouched 40-acre stand of red pine towers as part of the Chippewa National Forest.
A bit of history... the U.S. Forest Service says the trees, some standing well over 100 feet tall, are actually 300 to 400 years old and date back to the time of the Pilgrims.
In the late 1880s when the logging business was booming and Minnesota was one of America's largest producers of wood, crews were busy harvesting forest land all around The Lost 40, but left 144 acres of red and white pine alone. Many believe it was an error by survey crews in 1882 that apparently mapped The Lost 40 as part of Coddington Lake, so it wasn't cut.
The error wasn't discovered until the 1960s, when maps were corrected.
Others say the initial mapping took place during Minnesota's bitter winter months, and believe crews were just too cold and skipped it.
WATCH: EarthKARE: 'The Lost 40' in northern Minnesota
Whatever the case, there is no denying this is a spectacular piece of Minnesota history with a one-mile interpretive trail running through it.
The Lost 40 is one of 160 tracts designated as scientific and natural areas (SNAs) in Minnesota, protecting habitat and geographic features. The old forest borders Minnesota's vast northern peatlands, considered the largest expanse of its type in the Lower 48.
Human activity in Minnesota's SNAs is limited to hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, photography and bird watching. Camping, picnics and use of motorized vehicles are banned.
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