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Seasons on Lake Metigoshe

The Turtle Mountains seem like a slice of Minnesota plopped on North Dakota’s border with Canada. Unlike most of North Dakota, there are woods and wetlands, including one of the state’s larger lakes, Lake Metigoshe, which has a colorful history.

The lake’s name comes from “Metigoshe washegum,” a Chippewa phrase for “clear lake surrounded by oaks.”  A 1930s travel guide called Lake Metigoshe “scenically one of the most attractive of the Turtle Mountain lakes.” Activities then are similar to today—summer bible camps, Boy Scout outings, and boat tours.

For decades, the Masons held annual summer meetings on Masonic Island, which is just offshore from Lake Metigoshe State Park.  And since 1958, Club de Skinautique has performed water skiing shows, which are especially popular during Fourth of July weekends.

About eight hundred and fifty lake homes and cabins dot the twenty-seven miles of shoreline, and property values have spiked since the Bakken oil boom. There’s even a newspaper covering the lake community—the Metigoshe Mirror, one of North Dakota’s youngest newspapers.

Summer is a popular season on the lake, but not the only one. The lake’s aspens are a blaze of color in autumn. In winter, the state park has snowshoeing, and ice fishing for bluegills is popular. Ice-out on Lake Metigoshe is always a guessing game, coming anytime from late March to mid May. It was on this date in 1993 that the lake was finally free of ice – a sure sign of spring in the Turtle Mountains.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura

State Historical Society of North Dakota. (1990). The WPA guide to 1930s North Dakota (4th ed.). State Historical Society of North Dakota: Bismarck, ND

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