Gooseberry Falls State Park CCC/Rustic Style historic resources are included within a 640-acre historic district that defines the original boundaries of the park. The district contains 88 contributing resources, from large-scale construction projects to picnic tables and drinking fountains, all built along the dramatic falls of the Gooseberry River and the shoreline of Lake Superior.
Principal designer of the buildings at the park was Edward W. Barber of the Minnesota Central Design Office of the National Park Service. George C. Lindquist, an on-site architect at the park, was also responsible for several park buildings. Two Italian stone masons, John Berini and Joe Cattaneo, supervised the intricate stone work executed throughout the park using combinations of red, blue, brown and black granite. The red granite was quarried in Duluth near the College of St. Scholastica, while the darker variety was taken from an outcrop near East Beaver Bay, just north of the park. The sand for the mortar was brought from Flood Bay, south of the park, and logs were obtained at Cascade River State Park.
The park’s historic district includes these resources:
U.S. Highway 61
Public Use Area
Trickling Filter Bldg
Gitchi Gummi Trail
CCC Camp Site
The CCC/Rustic Style historic resources at Gooseberry Falls State Park are exceptionally significant for their remarkable stone construction. The intricate designs use imaginative combinations of red, blue, brown and black granite. This stonework is the most visually distinctive masonry construction in the state park system. The park's landscape design is one of the most extensive and comprehensive state park designs from the period, involving professionals from the Minnesota Central Design Office as well as consulting landscape architects.
Gooseberry Falls State Park was initially classified as a 640-acre scenic Game Preserve owned jointly by the Highway Department and the Department of Conservation. Although the site was acquired as a public hunting ground and game refuge, its striking views of the Gooseberry River and the North Shore of Lake Superior influenced the National Park Service to designate it a state park.
An Emergency Conservation Work Camp, SP-5 Company 1720, was approved for this site and first occupied the area on May 3, l934. An additional Work Camp, SP-10 Company 2710, was established on July 22, 1934. This crew organized a tent camp on the lake side of Highway 61 near the park entrance. However, Company 1720 was transferred back to its prior location on September 30, 1934, and Company 2710 moved to their camp site just west of the Upper Falls. The tent camp was gradually replaced by a typical CCC camp, with 10 army-style barracks, an infirmary, mess hall, latrine, officers' quarters and various service and administrative buildings. An education building known as "Gooseberry Falls University" was erected and dedicated in March 1939. A total of twenty-seven buildings were constructed at the camp.
In less than a year, Company 2710 constructed one mile of road, 4 miles of foot trails and nineteen miles of fences. Thirty acres were topographically mapped, fourteen acres of camp ground were cleared and three acres were landscaped. More than 2,600 feet of pipe were installed for the campground disposal system, 2,276 square yards of erosion control were put in place for bank protection, and ten acres of water improvement projects were completed.
Large-scale construction and development began in 1935; by the end of 1936, the park was one of the more fully equipped in the state. For example, the picnic grounds included a parking area, water supply, sanitation building, picnic and kitchen shelter, refectory and a number of tables and fireplaces. When he visited the park in July 1936, CCC Director Robert Fechner expressed satisfaction with the development. The park was officially designated a state park in 1937.
The CCC camp remained in operation longer than any other state park CCC camp in Minnesota. After the camp closed in 1941, a local newspaper wrote, "Here lies a state park that will live in the years to come as a tribute to the nation's Civilian Conservation Corps and a monument to Company 2710, its officers, and its boys."
For current information about Gooseberry Falls State Park, go to the DNR website.