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Resort on Devils Lake


When the Devils Lake area was settled in 1883, the beautiful lake drew many people to its shores. In July of 1886, the local business and professional men of Devils Lake began a movement to establish a summer resort on the lake. A site selection committee was formed and the spot chosen was along the straits that led from Creel Bay into Devils Lake Bay on land owned by Captain Jessie W. Palmer. Once the deed was transferred, men were immediately put work with scythes and axes to clear away the underbrush. The heavily wooded area was soon transformed into a delightful park with a canopy of large elm, ash and oak trees.

Lawrence Grant, a local contractor, was engaged to construct a building on a point of land overlooking the straits, from which the outline of Fort Totten could be seen ten miles distant on the south shore. The spot was also chosen because the point of land provided an area of shallow water for wading and a deeper area next to it for swimming in the water much touted for its medicinal qualities. The shoreline also offered prime fishing for the abundant pike that filled the lake. With a sweeping view of the straits and of both bays, the location offered an excellent site for sailboats and the regattas that were bound to be held there. Another advantage of the location was that it was within four miles of the city and offered access by land or by water, with Captain Edward Heerman’s line of steamers passing within a few hundred yards of the clubhouse every day.

With the steamboat Minnie H transporting the lumber at no charge, a twenty by twenty-four foot building was completed on this date, less than a month after the planning began. A few days later, the Minnie H steamed away from the city pier at 6:30 in the evening carrying approximately one hundred twenty-five passengers with a cornet band and violins playing. Once at the clubhouse the lunch baskets were opened and dinner was served, followed quickly by an evening of dancing or strolling along the pebbly beach, listening to the gentle lapping of the waves upon the shore. At 11:00 o’clock the whistle of the Minnie H sounded an end to the evening’s festivities and the guests embarked for the short trip back to the city. Thus one hundred and twenty-five years ago, Devils Lake’s first country club was dedicated.

Datebook by Jim Davis

Devils Lake Inter-Ocean August 21, 1886