How We Got Started
1907 to Present Day
It was the turn of the 20th century. Koochiching County was a vast forestland connected to the rest of Minnesota by roads that were threads by today's standards and a railroad line that pierced through the county and ended at "the border".
The "falls" at International Falls flowed with a force only God could create, yet man had found ways to harness that force and use it to create power. The creation of a paper mill brought jobs and prosperity to this otherwise wilderness, which in turn brought people… people to build, people to serve, and people to live.
Three large hotels were built to meet the needs of those traveling to and living in International Falls. The Rex Hotel, the Frederick Hotel and the Riverside Hotel were built of steel girders, brick and mortar, lath and plaster, and old hardwood floors. In later years, after having served as a refuge for hundreds of thousands, both the Rex and Frederick Hotels perished in fires, leaving the Riverside Hotel, at the corner of Second Street and Second Avenue, standing tall... a location we fondly refer to as the "Last Building in the U.S.".
Over the past 35 some years we've been privileged to visit with numerous "old-timers" sharing tales of the old days and telling of the "Riverside". Construction began in 1907, booming three stories high, 50 foot wide by 80 foot long, with a 4,000 square foot basement, complete with a pool hall. There were 56 rooms for rent that shared two baths on the second and third floors. There was a separate bathing room on each floor, complete with a claw-foot tub.
We're told that loggers needing R&R could hop a train cuttin' through the county and get off at the end of the line (across the street from the Riverside). They'd rent a room, then go to Claybundy's Bar (across the alley), or one of many establishments of the day. Needs having been met, (haircut and shave, rest and relaxation achieved), a day or two later they could catch a train out and go back to "the bush".
A lot has happened to the Riverside Hotel over the past hundred plus years. Today it stands tall and serves the needs of the local and traveling public as "Border Bob's", an iconic landmark to tens of thousands of fishermen, hunters, and voyageurs annually. While the exterior has not changed dramatically (mostly cosmetically with natural log covering), the interior displays a warm oak environment hosting nooks & crannies filled with wonderful trinkets and treasures... apparel to artworks. A truly unique experience! We like to say that visiting International Falls and not experiencing Border Bob's is like going to Yellowstone and not seeing Old Faithful.
She stands Proud and Tall, the Riverside, as Border Bob's. A part of Koochiching County's history, a testament to the past, and a jewel among Minnesota's most interesting places to visit.