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City agrees to LC Historical Society’s request for control of Crusader’s plot

LCHS director Mel Sando said granting agencies are more likely to look favorably on applications for funding now that there are legal documents giving the society control of the land surrounding the Crusader II . Photo by Tammy Francois.1 / 2
The Crusader II, located next to the Two Harbors Lighthouse, will be repaired in the next couple of years now that the City of Two Harbors has given the Lake County Historical Society custodial control of the 0.3 acres upon which the boat is cradled. The land was returned to the city after extended legal wrangling with Cave & Associates. Photo by LaReesa Sandretsky.2 / 2

Steve Overom, attorney for the City of Two Harbors is drafting an agreement to give the Lake County Historical Society control of a 0.3 acre plot of land near the Two Harbors Lighthouse. The contract will allow the society’s director, Mel Sando, to apply for grants to restore The Crusader II, a fishing boat that sits on the small parcel.

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“We have been unable to secure grant funding,” Sando said, adding that the ownership of the land has also been an issue for granting agencies.

The piece of land, just outside of the fence surrounding the lighthouse, was owned by Cave & Associates until last year, when Sixth District Judge Michael Cuzzo ordered the company to hand the land over to the City.

Now, the City will give the historical society what Sando called “custodial control.” He said the arrangement will assure grantors that the landowner won’t rescind the society’s permission to keep the boat on the land.

The Crusader II was built in Larsmont in 1948 by the Hill family. They built over 200 boats for Lake Superior fisherman, according to Sando. The boats were incredibly stable in rough water, he said.

The boat hasn’t fared well on dry land, however. The craft’s lower half is still in decent shape, but the upper portion is weatherworn and in need of repair.

City councilor George Scheidt is on the public works committee and heard Sando’s original proposal. He backed it when it was introduced to the council at a recent meeting. He said restoring the fishing boat will add even more value to a popular spot in Two Harbors.

“I think it’s going to be a tremendous benefit. That’s a heavily used place,” Scheidt told the News-Chronicle.

The tentative plans include building a concrete platform under the boat, covering it with a canopy and restoring it in an historically accurate way. Sando said that the repairs would start in 2015 at the earliest.

In the near future, Sando has a few other projects in the hopper, including the restoration of an old fountain he calls the “water babies” which will be placed near the Crusader II. It features two children under an umbrella and was owned by Thomas Owens, one of Two Harbors’ first residents and the former superintendent of the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad.

Sando has put a lot of work into the society’s four museums of late, including updates to the archives and research library in the upper level of the Depot and the less glamorous maintenance of the buildings. Fundraising and grant applications also require attention too, as the society is a nonprofit organization on a tight budget.

“My biggest challenge is really just making enough money to keep the doors open and the lights on,” Sando said.

For more on the Lake County Historical Society or to find out how to donate, visit or call (218) 834-4898.

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
(218) 834-2141