Surveyor Josiah A. King and crew.****
Conservationists win a long fight to establish a 225,000-acre forest reserve where logging will be supervised by the U.S. Bureau of Forestry. In 1928 the reserve’s name is changed to the Chippewa National Forest.
One of the treasures of Northern Minnesota is an area of Chippewa National forest known as “the Lost Forty’. Actually, it is an area of 144 acres that were somehow missed by surveyor Josiah A. King in 1882. His three man crew faced chilling weather, slogged through swamps, and it is not unlikely they were missed in exhaustion.*
“In 1882, a land surveyor by the name of Josiah A. King, and his three-man crew, traveled 40 miles from the nearest white settlement called “the Grand Rapids of the Mississippi.” For a month, canvas tents were their homes, and flour, pork, beans, and dried apples their rations. Josiah and his crew were finishing the last of three contracted townships in one of the first land surveys of Minnesota’s north woods.
As the November winds blew around the crew, they surveyed a six square mile area between Moose and Coddington Lakes. Perhaps it was the chilling weather, or all of the desolate swamps around them, but the crew became confused, and they ended up plotting Coddington Lake about a half mile further northwest than it was actually located. Josiah’s crew’s error is Minnesota’s great fortune.
As a result, these towering pines were mapped as a body of water, and the virgin pine in this area was overlooked by the hungry logging companies. Afterall, what logging company would want to pay for swamp land. This parcel of land became known as “The Lost Forty” and went untouched by loggers. It is now managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources under their Scientific & Natural Areas Program.”**
Father, You have encouraged us to have places of rest, and even have commanded that the land should be given rest. Parts of the Pentateuch that are despised as being outdated, finicky, and overly legalistic by some are the same verses that declare a Sabbath for the land and animals. Scientists in the 20th century were able to confirm the wisdom of these books of “myth”. Elements and minerals in the soil are depleted by overuse; giving the land a rest actually increases yields in the long run. Again, You already made us this promise in antiquity, and science finally has caught up.
Lord, I see the Chippewa Forest as a reflection of this heart of rest. Within this forest, the Lost Forty are a time capsule giving testimony to what existed in Your natural balance. Thank You for holy, set-aside places like these! Thank You that the error of the surveyors may well have been Your providence and plan to show off Your handiwork to their progeny.
We see what the forest could continue to yield if harvested within Your boundaries. Will You forgive the impatience demonstrated in the harvesting of these northern forests of Minnesota? Will You give wisdom and balance to those who have an interest in these forests, whether political, environmental, economical, or spiritual? Will You give us this day a reserve of energy, of time, of thought to relax with our Creator? Will You forgive us where we are resistant to solitude, to quietness, to contemplation of our lives in the state of Minnesota? Will You help us hear Your voice calling from antiquity, ‘Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year.” NASB Leviticus 25:5***
*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
****Photo of Josiah King courtesy of Liberty Pines Ranch https://libertypinesranch.com/category/the-great-outdoors/the-hike/