Historic Machine Shop Overcomes Three Historic Floods
Even as the flood waters recede, the Finstad Auto-Marine Shop will host its annual open
house on Saturday, August 13, 2022. Befitting its listing on the National Record of Historic Places, the 108-year-old shop on the shores of Rainy Lake has the best-preserved marine-oriented machine shop in Minnesota. The Shop has survived floods of historic proportions in 1950, 2014 and 2022, as well as several lesser events.
From 10 AM to 5 PM, the open house will feature narrated tours of the Shop and its history.
Randall Gawtry, Auto-Marine Shop Event Coordinator, says “The Auto-Marine Shop open-house is an extraordinary opportunity to share history stories. We welcome our guests’ tales about George Finstad and the Shop. We like to think we are trading history – we always seem to hear as many stories as we tell!”
A highlight of the day will be the occasional operation of the 19 th century one-cylinder hit-and-miss engine that powers the machine tools in the Shop. The Auto-Marine Shop also will host several guest exhibits in the boatyard.
Families shouldn’t miss the opportunity to interact with the Voyageur National Park Interpreters as they
invite kids and their parents into the enactment of a voyageur traverse – just yards from where the original Voyageurs dipped their paddles.
Rainy Lake area history buffs can visit with knowledgeable Voyageur National Park Historian Catherine
Crawford as she presents historical photos from the extensive VNP collection.
The Koochiching County Historical Society Museum will exhibit an unmatched photographic collection of
historic Rainy Lake boats and Ranier history as well as an array of photos depicting various activities over the long history of the Auto-Marine Shop. An especially delightful part of KCHS Museum photo exhibit is the spontaneous interaction among the guests as they discover boats they recognize that may have belonged to family and friends.
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary display promotes safety on our waters and is always a favorite of
Popular guests every year are the historic boats that dock at the Auto-Marine Shop. The flood and the
pandemic make any visits this year somewhat uncertain but Rainy Lakers are resilient. In the past, elegant
launches, sturdy cruisers, polished Chris-Crafts, 1950s fishing boats, the VNP Voyageurs Canoe and even the VNP float plane have graced the Shop dock.