Tour Guide Doug Tells About THE LOST 40: “Oh to decipher the whisper of the wind through these giant ancient pines…”

…It may say “Thank you!” to a survey crew mistake.

On a chilly, northern Minnesota, November day in 1882, four forestry surveyors, perhaps disoriented or cold or impatient — for whatever reason — made a mistake for the benefit of those who live and love nature in our present day. They erroneously mapped this majestic stand of giant white and red pines as part of a nearby lake and swampland, thus mistakenly sparing the pines from the ravenous lumber company saws. It is estimated that some of these trees are well more than 300 years old.

This parcel of land became known as “THE LOST FORTY” and went untouched by loggers. As a result, today you can enjoy one of the last and largest stands of virgin, “old-growth” Red and White Pine in Minnesota. Visitors can hike the interpretive trail through this enchantment for a true feel of what much of northern Minnesota was once like. The largest tree in The Lost Forty is a red pine, measuring nearly 10 feet in diameter and 130’ high. It would take three adults to embrace it. This rare biome also protects some of the state’s most fragile plants, plus baby pines. The Lost Forty is also in an Audubon Important Bird Area and Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area.

The site was re-surveyed in 1960, after which it was protectively incorporated into the Big Fork State Forest, and the adjoining Chippewa National Forest. It is also designated a Scientific and Natural Area to help protect its priceless beauty. A 2009 study found the oldest individual trees within the SNA to be red pines, 230-240 years old.

Located only 13 miles east of Blackduck, MN, today, this ancient forest not only welcomes, but awes respectful visitors year-round!

Writer: Doug Rosenquist, Twin Cities Tours

Photo Credit: Vicki Olson for MPR News