Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:

Northern Minnesota

© 2002, © 2014 by Paul Freeman. Revised 4/26/14.


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Sandstone Municipal (revised 2/9/13) - Skyport Airport / Devil's Track Municipal (revised 4/26/14)

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Skyport Airport / Devil's Track Municipal Airport (GRM), Grand Marais, MN

47.82 North / 90.38 West (Northeast of St. Paul, MN)

Skyport Airport & Seaplane Base,

as depicted on the November 1948 Duluth Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).


This small general aviation airport was located

on the shore of Devil's Track Lake a few miles south of the Canadian Border.

It originally consisted of both a runway for land plane operations & a seaplane base.


Skyport Airport was evidently established at some point between 1944-48,

as it was not yet depicted at all on the December 1944 Duluth Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy)

or the March 1945 Green Bay World Aeronautical Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).

The earliest depiction of the field which has been located

was on the November 1948 Duluth Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

It depicted “Skyport” as a municipal/commercial airport & a seaplane base.


The 1960 USGS topo map depicted “Grand Marais - Devil Track Airport”

as having a single unpaved east/west runway, with the “Sky Port Seaplane Base” to the south.


The 1962 AOPA Airport Directory described "Grand Marais Municipal" as having a single turf 2,600' Runway 9/27,

listed the operator as Skyport Lodge.


By the time of the July 1969 Duluth Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss),

Devil's Track had a single 2,800' paved runway & its own NDB navigational beacon.


Dave Lee recalled of Skyport Lodge, “I used to work there in the early 1970s.

At that time it was owned by Clarence Krotz, and run by his family.

I used to spend summers up there, and do odd jobs around the place for them.”


According to Randy Sohn, Devil's Track Airport was operated by Duane & Judy Cole.


The earliest photo which has been located of Devil's Track Airport was a 5/24/76 USGS aerial view.

It showed Devil's Track Airport to have a single paved east/west Runway 9/27, with a few small hangars on the northeast side.


Devil's Track Municipal Airport,

as depicted on the July 1990 Approach Procedures (courtesy of Timothy Aanerud).


 

As of the 1991 USGS aerial photo, Devil's Track Airport consisted of a single paved 2,800' Runway 9/27,

a small ramp & several single-aircraft hangars.


The last listing which has been located of the Devil's Track Municipal Airport as an active airfields

was in the 1989 North Central Airport Facility Directory.


The Devil's Track Municipal Airport was evidently closed at some point between 1989-93,

as the 1993 Airport/Facility Directory showed that it had been replaced

by the new Grand Marais Cook County Airport, a mile to the north.


A June 2003 USGS aerial view looking northwest along the Devil's Track runway shows the facility appears to remain completely intact.


A circa 2006-2010 aerial view looking north shows 2 hangars & the runway remains intact at Devil's Track.


Only the seaplane facilities at Devil's Track Lake continue to remain active,

with a new name & identifier: Grand Marais Cook County Seaplane Base (0G5).

 

Thanks to Timothy Aanerud for pointing out this airfield.

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Sandstone Municipal Airport (57Y), Sandstone, MN

46.12 North / 92.89 West (North of Minneapolis, MN)

Sandstone Municipal Airport, as depicted on the November 1971 CF-18 World Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).


This small general aviation airport was located adjacent to US I-35.


Sandstone Municipal Airport was not yet depicted at all on the April, 1954 Duluth Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).


According to Tail Dragger, “The Sandstone Municipal Airport was originally laid out in the late 1950s with a natural surface runway.”


The earliest directory listing which has been located of Sandstone Municipal Airport

was in the 1962 AOPA Airport Directory,

which described Sandstone as having a 2,600' long sod runway.

The operator was listed as Rex Kerr.


The earliest depiction of Sandstone Municipal Airport which has been located

was on the November 1971 CF-18 World Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

It depicted the field as having a 2,600' unpaved runway.


According to Tail Dragger, “It was first paved in the 1970s.”


The July 1979 Green Bay Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Sandstone as having a single 2,900' paved runway.


The 1987 Flight Guide (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Sandstone as having a single 2,900' paved Runway 17/35,

with a taxiway leading to a ramp on the east side of the field with a few small buildings,

including the Administration building.

 

The 1991 USGS aerial photo depicted the field as having a single 2,900' paved Runway 17/35,

and a small paved ramp area.

There were not any hangars on the field,

and no aircraft were visible in the field either. 

 

The 1998 Airport/Facility Directory described Sandstone Municipal Airport

as having a single 2,900' asphalt Runway 17/35.

However, the field was described as being unattended,

and the remarks said, "Runway 17/35 surface cracking & breaking up, cracks 2" wide with grass."


According to Tail Dragger, “It was built over a wetland area.

Over time, large pockets of clay soil beneath the 2,900' runway would shift with the freezes & thaws of the seasons,

causing the pavement to bend & buckle.

In 1999 & again in 2000, the MN Department of Transportation's Office of Aeronautics failed the runway for being too rough.

Repair costs were beyond the reach of the city's budget & state support for repair was limited.

There was no room to expand the runway to accommodate larger aircraft,

with an interstate highway to the northwest & an active railroad to the southeast.

With only 2 or 3 aircraft using the facility on a regular basis, the city council voted to close the airport in 2001.”


An April 24, 2005 aerial view looking north along the Sandstone runway shows this fine little general aviation facility appears to remain completely intact –

what a shame to see it going to waste.

Tail Dragger reported, “Trailers used by the DNR are visible, but they are no longer there”, as of 2013.


An August 2012 photo by Tail Dragger of Sandstone's overgrown ramp, hangar, and office.


An August 2012 photo by Tail Dragger of airport markings which remain at Sandstone.


An August 2012 photo by Tail Dragger of the former Sandstone Municipal Airport office building.


Tail Dragger reported in 2013, “The ramp area has been used in recent years by the MN Department of Natural Resources

to temporarily land helicopters during wildland firefighting operations & fuel must be trucked in.

The DNR helicopter crews will occasionally sleep in the old office building when on required rest periods

and sometimes bring in trailers for extra bunk space.

The city uses the lone hangar on the property for storage.

A wireless phone tower has recently been erected near the southeast end of the runway.

Currently owned by the Sandstone Economic Development Authority,

there are plans to develop the airport property for a senior apartment community & assisted living facility,

which would be within a short drive of a planned hospital.”


See also: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/aero/avoffice/ops/airdir/drawings/sandston.html



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