May 17, 2021
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Minnesotans Built An Ice Road To Bring In Tourism During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Illustration for article titled Minnesotans Built An Ice Road To Bring In Tourism During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Photo: Andrej Ivanov / AFP (Getty Images)

The intricacies of history, politics, and geography mean that Minnesota’s Northwest Angle was completely cut off from the rest of the United States during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, the 120 people that make up the small community decided to solve the problem of no-contact in a unique way: through a 22-mile long ice road.

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The Northwest Angle is a little splat of land that’s connected to the Canadian province of Manitoba but is technically part of the United States—even though it’s actually cut off from the U.S. by the Lake of the Woods. To get to the Northwest Angle from the Lower 48 requires an American citizen to drive through Canada and then back into America. It’s a route that plenty of tourists take in the winter to engage in ice fishing. But Canada deemed tourism nonessential and shut the border to anyone traveling for that purpose. It left the Northwest Angle completely shut off from the economic aid American travelers. So, the people built a 22-mile long ice road, Bloomberg reports.

The Bloomberg article is a great one if you haven’t read it yet. Here’s a little excerpt from the story:

In December, [resort owner Paul] Colson says, he and his fellow business owners pooled about $9,000 to begin building a 22-mile ice road through American territory—that is, straight across the frozen lake and through a forest. After the ice road opened this January, he says, the area’s eight or so winter tourist resorts were packed, and he recouped about a third of his usual peak-season business. The next hurdle will be warmer weather. Soon, boats will be the only way to reach the Angle without venturing onto Canadian soil, and the Angle residents are counting on Canada’s government to reopen the border in time for their operations to survive the summer season.

You can watch the construction of the road in the following clip:

Desperate times, desperate measures. As both the article and the short clip mention, the Northwest Angle relies on three months of winter tourism to keep the community active throughout the rest of the year. A few thousand dollars in exchange for the necessary funds to pay the bills is a no-brainer of an investment.

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