On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Lake Vermilion: 'The lake of the red sunsets'

Share story

Lake Vermilion
Lake Vermilion
William Lager | MPR News

Lake Vermilion has made the top eight in our most-loved lake contest. See all the finalists and cast your vote here.

Known as "the lake of the red sunsets," Vermilion's 40,000 acres are still considered some of the most beautiful in the U.S. Its name comes from the French translation of Onamni, an Ojibwe word meaning lake of the sunset glow, according to the DNR.

Parts of Vermilion are in the Superior National Forest, and a Boundary Waters entry point is on its north shore. It's Minnesota's seventh-largest lake and has 290 miles of shoreline — the longest in the state.

Lake Vermilion, St. Louis County.
Lake Vermilion, St. Louis County.
Minnesota Historical Society

Cabins dot the shoreline. And even the most modest-looking structures contain cherished memories. 

Kristin Heimes said her grandparents Toivo and Saima Matts built a cabin about a century ago in Vermilion's Frazier Bay. Here's what Heimes remembers, as she told us in the Public Insight Network:

Even though they passed many years ago, we love the blessing of the cabin that they left behind for their family. They picked the best lot on the entire lake, with a sand beach that faces the western sky. The cabin is old and may look insignificant compared to the mansions down the road, but to us grandchildren, it is still our little bit of paradise. Our families took turns staying there in the summer and created memories that will forever burn in our hearts — memories that could fill a book!

Tell MPR News and the Water Main: What makes your lake special?