Interviewer: “Can you tell the story of the Devil’s Kettle?”
Informant: “So the Brule River in Cook County, Minnesota has an interesting attribute. Above the upper falls, there is a large hole into which about a third of the river empties, and it has always been known as the Devil’s Kettle… and the folklore has it that umm… nobody knows where the water that goes into the Kettle actually comes out. There are rumors that it goes to China, that it goes to Hell, hence the name Devil’s Kettle, or that it empties somewhere else downriver, or out into the lake itself, the great lake known as Gitche Gumme, otherwise known as Lake Superior. Over the many years there have been people who said they would try and dam the Kettle so they could go down and check it out, rappel down with mountain climbing gear… umm, there have been reports of people throwing die and things like that to see where the die would come out, if they would come out at all. I don’t actually know if any of them are true or if any of those things have ever happened. I’ve been hiking the Brule River trail since I was a small child, so fifty some years, and the Kettle was always that legend and always that mystery and out end objective of the hikes was always to get to the Kettle, to see what water was going in, to see what sticks and other debris were going in, those kinds of things. Um, I’m not aware of any legends of people falling into the Devil’s Kettle but it wouldn’t surprise me. I know it’s been the… uh, been a part of a couple of novels along the way, that use the Kettle as part of their plot.”
The informant’s family owns a cabin nearby the Brule River in Minnesota that is used for vacation, so the informant has been immersed in this legend since childhood. When asked what theories he believes about where the water goes, the informant instead noted that he prefers it remains a mystery as that is what makes the location itself special.
This conversation was recorded in the living room of the informant’s home, but the legend in question addresses a location in northern Minnesota.
This is a great example of a geographical legend. I have visited the Kettle many times, and have often dreamed of being able to swim into the hole to discover myself where the water might lead. This legend has become a defining factor of the local towns, and it would be very interesting to interview local residents in Minnesota and compare their contributions to the theories mentioned above.