My grandfather, Bower Hawthorne, was a longtime newspaperman, known more for chain-smoking and three-Martini lunches at the Little Wagon and the Oak Room in the Twin Cities than for a love of the outdoors. But in 1964, acting on a tip from Brainerd mayor Tom O’Brien, he bought 164 acres in Crow Wing County. He cut a mile-long driveway through the woods to access Eagle Lake, and he built a small cabin in a notch between two sizable hills. And he started planting trees.
He bought a couple hundred seedlings from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), planting them across the property, and he also registered the land as a tree farm. It was already a forest, but Bower dreamed of multiplying the towering white pines across the acreage.
Then, on June 25, 1973, tragedy struck. The Brainerd Daily Dispatch reported that the tornado “roared like 40 freight trains.” In the Minneapolis Tribune, Jim Kimball’s column was headlined, “Tornado’s worst victim is forest.” My grandfather agreed.
Read the rest at the Star Tribune.