I stopped in Effie on a whim when I happened to drive by the boarded-up public school on my way home from Togo. Effie is a quiet little town in Itasca County with a population around 130 according to the 2010 Census. In 2000, however, the Census only listed about 91 residents. If anyone knows the reason for the influx of residents between 2000 and 2010, I’d love to hear it in the comments.
Effie, like most of the settlements in this part of Northern Minnesota, is a community that exists largely due to the logging industry. According to Mimi Barzen at the Minnesota DNR, “By 1875 logging was big business, due to the abundance of trees, expanding rail system, and network of waterways extending all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.”
These photos were taken by FSA Photographer Russell Lee in 1937 at a logging camp on the outskirts of Effie.
Loading logs onto a railroad car.
Blowing the horn for dinner.
Many Minnesota logging communities were left behind when the white pine logging industry moved on to the Pacific Northwest in the 1930s, and empty schools, like this one in Effie, or the one in Togo, are remnants of the exodus. Effie clings to life, however, with outdoor recreation in warm and cold weather–hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling for instance–and they have a well-regarded rodeo, the North Star Stampede, held annually, rain or shine, in the last week of July.
Black & White photos by Russell Lee, 1937. Color photos by Troy Larson, Original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media