Day Trip 2 - Pioneers on the Byway
Today we'll take in the history and culture of the Scenic Byway - a trip to yesteryear and a look at the cultural roots of the lakes area.
Start at the DNR Fire Tower just east of Pequot Lakes on CSAH 11. The fire tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Lookouts. Near the tower base are foundations of a home in which the forester and his family once lived. Next, on to Breezy Point Resort, once owned by Captain Billy Fawcett of Whiz Bang comics fame. The resort has hosted such famous Hollywood celebrities as Clark Gable and Carol Lombard. Tour the Fawcett House and meander through Fawcett's Cottage Hill, a special district with small cabins built more than a half century ago.
The Crosslake Historical Society Museum and Historic Village at the intersection of CSAH 66 and 3 in the heart of Crosslake, showcases some of the lakes area's first residents. The restored buildings include the Ideal Schoolhouse, erected in 1897, the first Crosslake Town Hall, built in 1923, a livery and several log homesteads.
Along CSAH 1 you can see the Old Grade Road, a former railroad track bed, used to move logs during the late 1800s. Read more about it at the interpretive kiosk near the intersection of CSAH 1 and Old Grade Road. For all the stories of railroads in the area, visit the Northern Trackers Railroad Club south of Crosslake on CSAH 3.
Further along CSAH 1 is a former one-room schoolhouses that now serves as township headquarters - Timothy township hall. An outdoor biffy adds to the historic appeal of this picturesque place.
Over a hundred resorts once dotted the Whitefish Chain and surrounding area. A trip along CSAH 16 is a tour of many of the remaining robust family resorts. All have histories dating to the early 1900s. Boyd Lodge was owned by the same family since its beginning in 1934 until 2008. Beacon Shores Resort was once called Beacon Heights and catered to Christian families that were also members of a group called the Red Sea Mission; Black Pine Beach Resort was financed by a Nebraska banker in 1938 and has had only three owners over its nearly 75 year history. Pine Terrace Resort has been the only Star Lake resort for more than 50 years. Towering Pines Resort was originally known as Campfire Lodge until the late 1950's. And Clamshell Beach Resort was owned for nearly twenty five years from the early 40's to the mid 60's, by famous Whitefish area fishing guides, George Johnson and his son, Rollie Johnson.
In Pequot Lakes, don't miss the Pequot Lakes Historical Society's extensive display in the lower level of the Cole Memorial Building. And, moving north, the City of Jenkins has undertaken an ambitious project to continue developing the Veterans Memorial Park. Most recently in 2022 with the addition of native area pollinator plants. New signage describes the plants and their beneficial relationships to flora and fauna. A new Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway interpretive panel kiosk will be exhibited in the park. Illuminate yourself with a bit of Jenkins History at the Interpretive panel at the Gateway Gazebo kiosk located just east of the intersection of CSAH 16 and Highway 371.
Along CSAH 15, view farmsteads and resorts that have been in families for generations. Stop in at Heath's Resort, a third generation business, and ask about their popular winter activity of dark house spear-fishing. At the Norwood Cemetery, stroll through the peaceful grounds and see the surnames that appear again and again. Imagine their pioneer spirit..as bold as Paul Bunyan himself.
West of the intersection of CSAH 15 and CSAH 1, where CSAH 44 meets CSAH 1, was a wild and hopping place in the 1920's and 30's, earning the moniker of Entertainment Junction. It was said there was a bar or a dance hall on every corner of the intersection. At that time, CSAH 1 was the main road to town. The calm atmosphere around this spot today belies its storied past!
Continue west along CSAH 1 into the town of Pine River. Often referred to as, "still a real town", Pine River has held onto its past with a downtown that almost seems reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell scene. Stop in at the Chamber of Commerce to learn amazing things about Pine River's history. Don't miss a look at the Pine River Train Depot, restored in 2009.