The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa between Ashland and Hurley, on Highway 2 remains in its pristine condition much as it has for centuries. Except for the modern Bad River Lodge & Casino and other attractions along the highway, thanks to the tribe’s heritage, the Lake Superior shoreline is the same as Longfellow must have envisioned it when he penned “Hiawatha” nearly 160 years ago. Looking as the giant swells flow, one has a spine tingling sensation as the poem passes the mind.
“By the shores of Gitchie Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the Wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy Pine trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright, before beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining big sea water.”
The scene hardly leaves as one today envisions being on the same shoreline on the night of Nov. 10, 1975 when the huge bulk freighter, The Edmund Fitzgerald, slipped past in the dark to meet its doom hours later with all 29 hands on deck during a horrific storm.
The history remains inside the Bad River Lodge & Casino where up to 600 guests are entertained in the Gitchie Gumee conference room. While the tribe salutes many individuals and entertainers, it has a special wall lined with pictures of all the veterans who have served their country. Inside the casino guests are welcome to the slots and table games including blackjack, roulette, Texas Hold ‘Em, three-card poker, poker tournaments and others. Waking up to the quiet beauty of the morning is an everyday occurrence in the 50-room lodge with Jacuzzis in the suite rooms.
While more than 90 percent of the 125,000 acre reservation remains wilderness, travelers are also invited to visit the Bad River Chippewa fish hatchery which stocks local rivers and lakes with 15 million walleye annually. Also on the list of attractions is historic St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Old Odanah.
Ashland, just 14 miles to the west overlooking Lake Superior, is a must stop for travelers. This historic community has a unique wall of murals that covers many city blocks, is home to the Great Northern Lakes Visitor Center and beautiful shoreline stopping points.