While vacationing, we attempt to meet as many old friends as possible. This one morning found us driving to Longville, Minnesota to meet friends for lunch. We were going early to be sure we had time to visit a couple of stores. On the way, we passed the road to Forestview. Road? truly in northern Minnesota a road often is nothing more than a sand lane or less. My mind went back to the times my parents would take our family or friends to dinner at the Forestview Resort.
As you look into the history of Walker, Minnesota and Leech Lake, you’ll find that logging was its early history about 1890. Tourist fishing began about 1899. The first non-logging steamboat began operation at that time. Tourists would stay at the Chase Hotel, and if they wanted to fish, they would arrange for a row boat, and along with others, hook up to a tow line on the U.S. Mail Delivery Boat and then drop themselves off, somewhere along the route. They would await the Mail Boat’s return and hook up to the drag line and go back to the hotel.
In 1899 the rail line had yet to be completed to Walker, and logs were transported across the lake, down the Leech River, to the Mississippi River destined for mills in the south. Tourists needed to find transportation from the end of the rail line, Brainard to Walker. When the loggers stripped the land of trees, they moved west and tourism-fishing became the economic mainstay. Leech Lake is the 5th largest lake in Minnesota, with 110,000 acres of water, give-or-take. It’s difficult giving someone a picture of the size of this lake, but lets try; for dry-land people, 1 section of land is 640 acres and measured as 1 square mile; therefore Leech Lake is 171.8 square miles or about 13 miles east/west by 13 miles north south.
Life is full of changes; the American Indian was faced with the white men loggers that stripped their former home land, fishing flourished and people came north to establish family resorts. Leech Lake was dotted with resorts, there are half as many resorts today as when I first visited here in 1978. So it was with Forestview, 20 cabins, lake views, nice old-time lodge and a great restaurant. But the family owned resort was ripe for change, the father-owner died, the wife-owner established an 18-hole golf course near-by. Soon the wife-owner died leaving the son, who embraced the next wave of economic change–the land developer. Land developers look with envy at lake frontage in the hands of resort owners, pushing that the enjoyment of the many should be sacrificed for the enjoyment of the few. Why go to a resort, “Life is short, buy a lake lot”! Don’t mistake my words, it’s everywhere, NOT just on this lake. Forestview Resort lives only in the remembrances of a few of us……the golf course. we also passed that day? I see it’s only good for baling hay.
Gone is the occasional black bear siting, or the 10 point buck swimming in the lake, but returning is the bald eagle. In 1978, you had to drive 15 miles north to see an eagles nest, now eagles line the lake shore and even more rare are the two golden eagles cruising the shore line.
Yep a lot of things are changing…I don’t think I like these changes…Let me be CLEAR!!!—it’s not that I’m getting older, and don’t like change….I just don’t like seeing changes in things I take as MY acceptable standard.