It’s high time I wrote about some of the places I’ve stayed — not the chains, but bed and breakfasts, inns, and other local places.
Steeped in history
Like Rippon-Kinsella House in Springfield, Illinois, Clearwater Lake Lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located off the Gunflint Trail west of Grand Marais, Minnesota, Clearwater Lake Lodge overlooks the lake and palisades, although I remember a healthy stand of conifers filtering the view. It’s also a great spot for getting outfitted for a Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness adventure.
At Clearwater Lake Lodge, I thoroughly enjoyed: a lengthy thunderstorm that started after we had carried most of our things in, watching small shapes (likely bats) flit around in the inky darkness, the view of the lake through the trees from the back porch, the view of the lake from the imaginatively named Suite A, a brief canoe outing and the view of the distant palisades before black flies ate my ankles, the gift shop, and the comfortable main room.
With places to go and things to see, I didn’t have nearly enough time at the lodge.
At breakfast I found out one of the employees was a descendant of the original owners. I think she said she had never been in a canoe. I couldn’t imagine.
A stay at Clearwater Lake Lodge forces you to give up your constant attraction to the online world. Daytime’s slow satellite connection is limited (and a guest had inadvertently used up the monthly allotment on videos). In the wee hours, access was unlimited, but the cloud cover and/or the trees, which I loved, seemed to make it erratic. You can almost get away from it all and focus on the Gunflint Trail experience you can’t have anywhere else.
Below is part of the Clearwater Lake Lodge entry for the National Register of Historic Places, aka places I hate to leave . . .
The oldest surviving guesthouse on the Gunflint Trail, Clearwater Lodge is historically significant for its pioneering, and continuing, contribution to the Cook County tourist industry.
In 1893, the Cook County Board of Commissioners finished the last stretch of road linking Grand Marais to Gun Flint, a mining community about 45 miles north on the Canadian border. Although the completion of the “Gunflint Trail” was primarily a testimony to the political power of the county’s mining interests, the road was also a boon to homesteaders who settled the area during the early 1900s.2 Among these early residents were Charles (“Charlie”), and Petra Boostrom, who, in 1916, purchased 80 acres of land on the western shore of Clearwater Lake, just east of the Superior National Forest. There the Boostroms erected a small log cabin. Over the next ten years, Charlie earned a reputation as one of the area’s foremost trappers and hunters.
During the 1920s, an increasing number of tourists discovered the woods and lakes of Cook County, and Charlie found an increasing part of his livelihood as a guide for sport hvinting and fishing parties. To capitalize on the emerging tourist trade, he and Petra constructed Clearwater Lodge in 1925-1926. Completion of the building coincided with the construction of an automobile road connecting the new resort to the Gunflint Trail. Over the next two decades the Gunflint Trail developed into a major vacation spot, and Clearwater Lodge earned a statewide reputation for its hospitality. After the Boostroms retired from the tourist business in 1945, Clearwater Lodge went through several changes in ownership until, in 1964, it became the property of Jack (“Jocko”) Nelson and his wife Lee. The Nelsons renamed the resort “Jocko’s Clearwater Lodge.” Although Jack Nelson died in 1978, his widow continues to operate the lodge as a summer resort.