History of Brainerd Lakes Resorts - Part 1

By
Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty Professionals MN Broker #40288835

"Build it and they will come." While this line, from the film "Field of Dreams," references the construction of a baseball field, it holds true for theBrainerd Lakes area resort industry as well. Prior to the existence of the railroads, few people ventured into the northland.

While the first industry in the area was Indian trade, according to Anna Himrod's "History of Crow Wing County," homes would often open their doors to travelers. These homes soon became known as "stopping places" to voyagers. In 1870, two stopping places were established on Gull Lake and it was at those locations that the Northern Pacific Railroad Company began surveying. According to "Brainerd Bound," the railway company had started near Duluth, laying tracks to the west. They reached the banks of the Mississippi River in 1871. Once there, they founded the city of Brainerd.


Photo courtesy of Crow Wing County Historical Society
Resorts began to pop up along the railway. One such resort was Piney Ridge, as told in "Logsleds to Snowmobiles." In 1902, J.H. Sandberg purchased the property from the Northern Pacific Railway.

The Sandbergs, the owners at the time, enhanced the property a great deal, building 10 cabins, a dining room, and a log clubhouse. The property was sold in 1908 and again in 1911, when Frank and Effie Palmer purchased it. During that time, 15 more cabins were added as well as a lounge area adjacent to the dining room. Effie operated the resort until her death in 1945. According to General Manager Brian Chaffee, Piney Ridge is now believed to be the oldest continuosly operated resort on the Whitefish Chain.


 

 

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Kathleen Lordbock

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