Mississippi headwaters, 1982

Most every Minnesota family has a photo or two of a visit to Itasca State Park and the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The lake was given a made-up name after its “discovery” in 1832 using morphs from the latin terms veritas and caput, meaning “truth” and “head”, as the source for the Mississippi had long been in contention. The park, established in 1891, is Minnesota’s oldest, well predating the establishment of the National Park Service (established 1916.)

The marker at Itasca State Park. Copyright © 1982 Jim and Anne Carlson

In the summer of 1982, while Peter was serving South Korea, his parents took the rest of the family to Itasca as part of their summer holidays. My parents took their clan to visit a couple of times in the 1970s, and there may be a photo or three from even earlier. Grandma Betty made it back in the aughties, with a gaggle of friends, and there’s a picture of this same marker, thirty-some years later, looking almost identical. Most likely this ‘carved tree’ has been replaced a few times.

The headwaters of the Mississippi River, Itasca State Park. Copyright © 1982 Jim and Anne Carlson

With anything approaching luck I will make another pilgrimage this summer, introducing the youngest Saewycs to the place. And, of course, taking a few pictures for posterity.