United by buoy monuments, Key West, Florida, visitors embrace the Northwest Angle

The visit by Paul and Crystal Menta set the stage for the inaugural Northwest Angle “Buoy Bash,” and Friday's proclamation by Key West officials marking Friday, Sept. 16, as "Angle Inlet, Minnesota Appreciation Day."

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Paul and Crystal Menta (left) of Key West, Florida, stand next to the Northwest Angle buoy at Young's Bay on Lake of the Woods marking the northernmost point in the Lower 48 states on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. Paul Menta is a Key West entrepreneur who learned of the Northwest Angle buoy while doing some research in advance of the 40th birthday celebration of the Key West buoy, which marks the southernmost point of the Lower 48 and is one of the most photographed landmarks in the U.S. Upon learning of the Angle buoy, Menta said he and his wife had to make a visit.

ANGLE INLET, Minn. – Minnesota's Northwest Angle and Key West, Fla., might be separated by more than 2,300 miles of road, but the two communities have much in common, not the least of which are the buoy monuments in each community, marking their locations as the northernmost and southernmost points of the Lower 48.

So says Paul Menta, a Key West businessman, entrepreneur and extreme sports enthusiast, who visited the Northwest Angle this week with his wife, Crystal, after learning about the Northwest Angle's buoy monument earlier this year.

“They really do” have a lot in common, Menta said Thursday morning from Jerry’s Bar and Restaurant at Young’s Bay before heading out for a three-hour boat tour of Lake of the Woods. “Here, it revolves around the lake. There, it revolves around the ocean.”

Key West has hurricanes; the Northwest Angle has floods – this year, at least.

After flying into Fargo on Tuesday night, the Mentas rented a car and even made a stop in Key West, Minnesota, on Wednesday morning en route to Sportsman's Lodge on the south shore of Lake of the Woods, where they took the passenger service across the big lake for the 40-mile boat ride to the Northwest Angle.

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Forging a friendship

It all started, Menta says, while he was doing some research in advance of Key West’s 200th anniversary celebration as chairman of the event’s planning committee. During the course of that research, he came across the Northwest Angle’s buoy monument, completed in May 2017 and similar in shape to the Key West buoy, which was constructed in 1983.

“There’s been over 237 million photos taken of it,” Menta said of the Key West buoy. “It’s one of the most photographed things in the United States.”

The Angle needed a similar landmark, which set the stage for the buoy at Young’s Bay, said Joe Laurin, a Lake of the Woods historian who helped coordinate the Mentas’ visit to the Angle.

“Everybody that came up here took pictures next to road signs, and everyone that was up here and saw that said, ‘This is ridiculous,’” Laurin said.

Both buoys are constructed of concrete, but the Angle buoy is slightly smaller.

“It’s colder up here so you have to allow for shrinkage,” Menta joked.

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