Early Resort Fires–Part Two

The previous blog, “Early Resort Fires–Part One” mentioned some of the causes of resort fires. Part Two will list some of the early resorts that have been destroyed or damaged by fire.

The numbers of early resorts and lodges lost by fire are difficult to calculate, since many were not rebuilt and information has been lost. With today’s sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and modern fire fighting equipment, resorts which have escaped fires have a greater chance to continue as working examples of a Golden Age of family resorts. If you have other examples of resorts affected by fire, contact me and I’ll update this list.

Souvenir photograph favor from the Lafayette Hotel

Photos show some of the resorts before they were lost or damaged by fire. They have been rebuilt and are operating today. Click on any image to enlarge it, and the back arrow to return to this page.

Layfayette Hotel (James J. Hill), Lake Minnetonka. 300 rooms. Built in 1882, burned in 1897.

Hotel del Otero, ca 1909

Hotel Del Otero, (James J. Hill) Lake Minnetonka. Built in 1885, burned 1945.

St. Croix Hotel, Marine on the St. Croix. Burned 1892.

Chateaugay Hotel (Oriental Hotel), White Bear Lake, burned in 1910.

Battle Lake House. Battle Lake. Built near 1900. Burned in the 1920s or 1930s.

Fairview Inn (Koronis Lodge), Lake Koronis, Paynesville. Built in 1902, burned in 1920. Rebuilt in 1925 as the Lake Koronis Hotel. Remodeled as a home in 2001.

Mississippi Lodge. Mississippi River, St. Cloud/Sauk Rapids. Established 1941. Became Pirate’s Cove Supper Club. Burned in 1998. Plans pending to rebuild.

Geneva Beach, Alexandria, 1907

Geneva Beach Hotel, Lake Geneva, Alexandria. Established in 1883. Burned in 1911. Rebuilt, then destroyed again in 1942. Rebuilt and demolished in 1971. A new Geneva Beach offers a lodge, townhouses, and suites.

Blake Hotel, Lake Carlos, Alexandria. Burned in 1919, rebuilt in 1921. Demolished in 1970.

Rocky Reef, Lake Mille Lacs, Onamia. The main lodge burned in 1939. The resort continues today.

Breezy Point Lodge. (See “Early Resort Fires–Part 1.”) Burned in 1959. Cause of the fire was not determined. Rebuilt as a premier resort and time share complex.

Velvet Beach, Pelican Lake, Merrifield. Built around 1900. The lodge burned in 1969.

Bar Harbor 1950s

Bar Harbor Resort and Nightclub, Gull Lake. Built in 1938. Destroyed by fire in 1968. Rebuilt following original design in 2003. Remodeled in 2012 as a premier restaurant, Bar Harbor Super Club.

Madden’s Inn. The original burned 1964. Rebuilt as a premier complex becoming the largest resort in the state.

Inwood Lodge, Gull Lake, Brainerd. Built around 1925, burned in 1958.

Olson’s Resort, Big Mantrap Lake. Built 1937. Home burned in 1993 killing Carl Olson.

Parkview Resort Store (Schneider’s), Itasca Park. The store was originally the Wegmann Store at Itasca Park. It was moved in the 1940s to the Parkview Resort when the state bought the Wegmann property. The store burned in the 1960s.

Headwaters Inn, Itasca State Park. Built in the 1920s. Explosion in 1938 killed a park employee. Acetylene gas for lighting might have played a part, or possibly an unmarked container of white (unleaded) gas placed with kerosene containers. Resort was intact, but was demolished around 1950 for park expansion.

Woodland Store & Cabins, Lake George. Built 1931, burned 1939. Rebuilt and is operating today.

Island Lake Tavern and Cabins. Park Rapids. Built in the 1930s (estimate) Burned in 1951, killing William Richards, the owners’ son. Not rebuilt. Cabins remained along with a country store, but none remain on the site today.

Little Mantrap Camp (now Wilderness Bay Resort), Little Mantrap Lake, Park Rapids. The log lodge burned in 1989. Rebuilt as a home and store with cabins.

Weir’s Landing, Little Mantrap. The lodge burned sometime in the 1920s or early 1930s. Not rebuilt, but cabins remained and a store was built along U. S. Highway 71. (After several name changes, the buildings were removed or demolished.)

Fish Hook Hotel (became Rainbow Inn in 1920). Fish Hook River, Park Rapids. Burned in the 1960s. Not rebuilt.

Nob Hill Resort, Potato Lake, Park Rapids. (Later it was renamed The Shipwreck, then New Potato Lake Lodge, and finally Cowboys and Chrome.) Burned in 2007.

Roy Lake Lodge. Built in the 1930s (estimate). Burned in 1995 killing one person.

Lakeside Hotel (Minnesota Hotel), Detroit Lakes. Built around 1884, it burned in 1916.

Chase on the Lake Hotel, Leech Lake, Walker, 1930s

Chase on the Lake, Walker. Built in 1922, partially destroyed by fire in 1997. Rebuilt in 2008 with premier hotel rooms, lakeside condos, restaurant, and year round activities.

Birchmont Beach Summer Hotel, Lake Bemidji. Lodge burned in 1920. Rebuilt and became Ruttger’s Birchmont in 1939. Continues today with a premier lodge with 22 cabins and year round activities.

Andrusia Lodge, Lake Andrusia, Cass Lake. Burned in 1954. Replaced, but deteriorated in the 1960s.

Cottage Inn, Star Island, Cass Lake. Built in 1910 and burned in 1912. It was rebuilt as the Star Island Inn in 1912. Replaced in 1923 when the Star Island Lodge Resort was built. Demolished in 1972.

Lutsen, Lake Superior, ca 1930

Lutsen Lodge, North Shore. Burned in 1948 and 1951. Rebuilt. Continues today as a premier resort with classic lodge, cabins, condos, and townhomes.

Aztec Hotel, North Shore at Illgen City. Burned in 1958.

Illgen City Motel. Became Whispering Pines in 1956. Burned in 2009. Rebuilt and operating today.

Paine Hotel (later called Tourist Hotel). Grand Marais, North Shore. Built before 1915. Burned in 1932.

Gunflint Lodge, Grand Marais, 1928

Gunflint Lodge, Gunflint Lake. Burned in 1953. One person died in the fire. Rebuilt and is operating today.

Northwoods Lodge, Poplar Lake, Gunflint Trail. Built in the 1920s. Burned in 1937. Rebuilt and burned again in 1965. Big Bear Lodge, with a classic log lodge and five cabins, was built on the site and operates today.

Gateway on Hungry Jack Lake (Hungry Jack Lodge), Gunflint Trail. Built 1924. Burned in 1931. Rebuilt 1932. Burned again in 1972. Burned a third time in 2008. Rebuilt in 2009.

Windigo Point Lodge (now called Poplar Haus), Sea Gull Lake, Gunflint Trail. After it was moved to Poplar Lake, it burned in 1974, and again in 1991, killing seven persons, including an owner, Vince Elkroot. Rebuilt.

Chik-Wauk Lodge, Lake Saganaga, ca 1940

Chik-wauk Lodge on Saganaga, Gunflint Trail. Built in 1931, then rebuilt in 1933 nearer the lake. It burned. A third was built of stone. It was closed in 1972 and became the Gunflint Trail Historical Society Museum in 2010.

American Point Resort, Penasse, Lake of the Woods. The lodge burned in the late 1960s or early 1970s.


More information and sources can be found in The Early Resorts of Minnesota.

This entry was posted in All blog entries, Minnesota Resorts. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Early Resort Fires–Part Two

  1. Krista Boland says:

    Wondering if you have any information on Olsens motel, in Tofte MN? My Great Great grandfather Andrew Olsen immigrated here from Norway and built/owned Olsens. He was tragically killed in a fire in the motel after going back in trying to get others out. I don’t know much more and can’t find a ton of information but would love to know more!! It was where Bluefin Bay is now and my boys and I are going this weekend to Stay there for the first time ever so I’m especially focused on trying to find out
    More at this time. Any info would be very appreciated!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *