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Northome, Minnesota

The Lost 40

A mapping error in the 19th century made loggers think this section of the forest was underwater. 

In the late 1800s, the state of Minnesota was one of the largest suppliers of timber in the country. As a result, today less than 2 percent of the forest land in Minnesota is occupied by trees that are considered “old growth” or “virgin” timber that has been left to age without disturbance. There is, however, a section of Northern Minnesota that loggers and developers never touched: the Lost 40.

The Lost 40 is 144 acres of untouched forest, including 30 acres of white pine-red pine forest and 20 acres of spruce fir forest, where some of the trees stand over 100 feet tall. This beautiful untouched section of the forest is the result of serendipity.

In 1882, a surveying and mapping error made loggers believe that the entire section of the forest was underwater, and so they passed through it. This area, which is actually located in the Chippewa National Forest, was therefore never logged, and the trees that were growing then continue to grow now.

The tradition of leaving the Lost 40 untouched has remained, and the forest section is still thriving as a result. There is nowhere else in the world like the Lost 40, since most of the trees in other forests are much younger than this swath of centenarians growing in the Midwest.

Know Before You Go

From Dora Lake, 3.8 miles. There is a parking lot on Lost Forty Rd. Primitive camping is permitted in the area.