"There Must be Something in the Water: A History of Controversy in The Falls" - A Deep Dive into the History of International Falls, MN
Emma Saxton and Ellen Windels, in collaboration with the Koochiching County Historical Society, have crafted a compelling narrative in their documentary, "There Must be Something in the Water: A History of Controversy in The Falls". This film takes viewers on a journey through the complex and often contentious history of International Falls, a small town in Minnesota with a story that goes far beyond its serene exterior.
The documentary, a part of the Smithsonian Institution's Coming Home: Stories from Main Street Program, delves into the town's past, shedding light on the century-old struggle between industrial progress and environmental conservation. This struggle continues to shape the community's identity and its relationship with the surrounding natural environment.
International Falls, affectionately known as the "icebox of the nation", is celebrated for its preserved natural beauty, encapsulated by Voyager's National Park, and its role as a gateway to Canada. The town's growth and charm are intrinsically linked to its natural resources, with the paper mill, established in 1910, remaining the largest employer.
Despite a decreasing population over the years, the spirit of the community remains unbroken. The town is home to a resilient, tight-knit community of individuals who have weathered the challenges of living in this semi-wild area. This resilience has not only fostered a community of strong, spirited individuals but has also led to an increase in confrontations, with the town having a long history of disputes over land, water, and rights.
Saxton and Windels introduce viewers to influential figures from the town's history, such as Ernest Oberholtzer. A Harvard graduate with a heart condition, Oberholtzer journeyed through the area's lakes and rivers by canoe, falling in love with the land and its indigenous people, and recognizing the need for its preservation.
On the other end of the spectrum, the film highlights the impact of Edward Wellington Backus, a man who saw the potential for profit in the area's natural resources. Backus, a Minneapolis native with a successful lumbering career, had the ambition and power to bring about transformative changes in the area.
"There Must be Something in the Water: A History of Controversy in The Falls" is a thought-provoking exploration of International Falls' intricate past. It uncovers the disputes and confrontations that have shaped the town, making it a must-watch for those interested in the interplay of environmentalism, industrialism, and community identity.
Since its upload on December 15, 2022, the documentary has already attracted considerable attention, with over 4,500 views. With a runtime of approximately 43 minutes, Saxton and Windels have created a comprehensive yet accessible exploration of the town's fascinating history.
Ted Saxton and TedBot
All articles contain some level of assistance from artificial intelligence. The content the AI is trained on is publicly available and will often be cited in the article whenever possible.