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The "Mighty Mississippi River," made legendary in songs and novels, travels 2,552 miles from its start to its delta at the Gulf of Mexico. The headwaters of this mighty river start at Itasca Lake, but include a collection of lakes. Andrusia Lake in southeast Beltrami County, Minnesota, is one of the many lakes that give birth to "America's River Road." The Northwoods lake in northwestern Minnesota also offers visitors an abundance of recreation opportunities.
Andrusia Lake, also known as Lake Andrusia, is a natural lake and one of eight lakes that make up the Cass Chain of Lakes. The Mississippi River links Big Wolf, Andrusia, Cass, Buck, Kitchi, Little Rice, and Big Rice Lakes together to form the chain. In 1932 Henry R. Schoolcraft was charged with negotiating a peace between the Sioux and Chippewa peoples. Schoolcraft traveled the Mississippi River through the lakes to Itasca Lake. On the way, he gave Lake Andrusia its name.
Dams on either side of Andrusia Lake control its water levels. It is a situation made more complicated by the fact the Cass Chain of Lakes dams are owned and managed by several different entities. The Minnesota DNR, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Forest Service along with the private companies, Ottertail Power and MPL are all responsible for dams on the Cass Chain of Lakes. Andrusia Lake sits between dams operated by two different owners making controlling the lakes water levels challenging, and levels can fluctuate significantly.
Lake Andrusia is within the Chippewa National Forest. Established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, it was the first national forest east of the Mississippi River. Over 666,540 acres make up the Chippewa National Forest, and there are trails for hiking, biking, snowmobiling and cross country skiing. The wildlife is plentiful, and hunters will find deer, bear and grouse in season. The forest is also home to a large population of breeding bald eagles.
Public access to Andrusia Lake is through a US Forest Service boat ramp at the north end of the lake. There is more than enough room to water ski, power boat, canoe and kayak. Anglers can challenge themselves against large populations of walleye, northern pike, and yellow perch. The Minnesota DNR stocks the lake regularly with walleye. There are also healthy populations of muskie, largemouth bass, black crappie, and bluegill. Lake Andrusia does not have much structure on its bottom for the fish, and some of the best fishing is along the shore. In the winter the lake freezes, and hardy anglers can ice fish.
Lake Andrusia is a hundred miles from the Canadian border, and it is just a 45 minute drive to Itasca State Park. Established in 1891, Itasca State Park is Minnesota's oldest state park. It has over a hundred lakes in its 32,000 acres, and Itasca Lake is the start of the Mississippi River. Lake Andrusia is a few miles from Bemidji. Known as the "First City on the Mississippi," Bemidji has restaurants, shops and any amenities a visitor might need. There is also real estate available for sale for anyone wishing to extend their stay.
After a day spent on the water or exploring the Chippewa National Forest, the deck on one of Lake Andrusia's many lakeside cabins or vacation rentals beckons. There are marshmallows to toast and for the lucky few a chance to see bald eagles soaring of the headwaters of one of Americas most important rivers.
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