Goodrich & O'Brien Lakeshore Association
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The Old-Old History by Geologist Dean Peterson
According to the plot map and deed that can be found in the Brainerd Court House, on page 127 in book 47 of Deeds you will find a patent was filed on December 7, 1912, where, then President William H. Taft granted to Melvin Bailey, the one hundred thirty six 120 acres described as the north half of the north east fourth and the north east fourth of the north west 1/4 section three in township 137 north of Range 26 west of the fifth principal, Meridian, Minnesota. To my knowledge they farmed this property. On October 8, 1936, Margaret Louise McClintock, nee Bailey, daughter of Melvin and Eliza Jane Bailey deeded 80 acres North half of north east fourth of section 30, township 137 North of Range 26, to the Bonnie Lake Company for $1.00 and other valuable considerations! Prior to this on July 26, 1935 Bonnie Lake Company bought the property described as Lots 1-11, Pineway from the Crosslake Land Company; who got it from the estate of Florence Harrison on October 8,1932. Then Mr. O. B. McClintock acquired said property. Mr. McClintock was from Minneapolis where he owned a lock and security business the McClintock Burglar and Alarm Company, it was used especially for banks. When he first had the property it was used as a vacation spot for bank customers and sales people employed by the McClintock Compan____ ers residing on lake property that was known at one time as Bonnie Lakes Farm. In researching the history I found it quite fascinating, as I’m sure you will. I have thoroughly enjoyed researching the history of our Bonnie Lakes Farm area and again my many thanks to all that provided me with such interesting and enlightening facts. I hope you enjoy my story.
Introduction by Betty Wilfred Smith When I was asked if I would do a history of Bonnie Lakes Farm, I said yes. My husband and I had purchased property on Goodrich Lake in 1988, so I felt it would give me a chance to learn more about the area. I fell in love with our place immediately! It didn’t look like much, it was old and needed a lot of work, but there was a charm about the place, it had a lot of character and I could see it’s potential. A wonderful place for us, our children and grandchildren to spend time at the lake! Little did I know at the time that we were purchasing the Dining Hall of the Old Bonnie Lakes Farm and of the history surrounding it! Though we have upgraded the place on the inside we kept the outside the way it was. I find from pictures that were shown to me that it looks much as it did many years ago. Before I even thought of the history of our Dining Hall we had a visit from Mr. Pike from Pennsylvania. He was down in Minneapolis on business and decided to take a drive up to Crosslake and see if he could locate the cabin and lake where as a very young boy he had summered with his family. We invited him in and he said the Dining Hall looked much the same as it did when he was a boy and had meals in it. He said his father did a lot of fishing in Goodrich, and when he returned to Pennsylvania he would go through old pictures and he would send me one of his father and the fish he caught and he was standing in front of the old Dining Hall. I am including that picture along with others that were sent to me by many that helped me compile all the information I know on Bonnie Lake Farm. Thanks to all for your help. The Goodrich-O’Brien Lakeshore Association is representative of owny. Louise and O. B. McClintock lived in the cottage known as Leaning Pine on O’Brien Lake and took their meals at the Dining Hall on Goodrich Lake, during their time spent at the Lakes. A generator that provided the electricity for several homes each evening served the cottages on Goodrich Lake. The cottages on O’Brien were kept primitive, no electricity, because many of the guests who returned year after year wanted their children to experience life as they had in the past. In the early days Eleanor McQuoid Bagne who lived on Lake O’Brien as a young person, recalls that she spent many happy hours on Goodrich with cousins. Swimming, berrying, fishing, and exploring. This was the innocent fun days of yesterday. Alas where are they now? At this time there was a bridge over the little stream where Goodrich flowed into O’Brien. Today there is no bridge just the road running between the two lakes. Some of us wish there were still a bridge so we could all get back and forth between the lakes more easily. It was in the 1950's when the road between the lakes used to go over the bridge. Once they put a culvert in, the levels of the lakes changed. Goodrich has raised several inches and stayed at that level making it no longer possible to walk along the shoreline all around the lake as they use to do. The McClintock property was a very busy resort spot. It contained a 9-hole golf course, part of that is still visible as open treeless areas that you can see along the right side of road as you drive past O’Brien on Bonnie Lakes Farm Road. The golf course also continues on behind trees and homes on Highway 36. There were guest cabins on both lakes, a dining hall, where Everett and Betty Smith now live, a recreation hall, laundry facilities, also a riding stable and tennis courts. The property also had cows and chickens, and a wonderful garden both vegetable and flowers that were used in the kitchen and Dining Hall. In the beginning Mr. McClintock entertained his bank customers (who purchased his equipment), lawyers, doctors and professional friends and guests from Hollywood. Movie Stars I’ve been told also visited. That may be how Mr. Cecil B. DeMille was an owner on Goodrich until just recently. I talked to a Mr. Carlson, who as a boy worked for Mr. McClintock’s resort in 1936 to 1938. His mother was bond holder in McClintock’s business and she asked E.C to give her son a summer job at the lake farm/resort. Mr. Carlson said it was a beautiful place with such beautiful trees and shrubbery and lovely flower beds planted all over the property. These gardens were so lush and beautiful and seemed to last longer than any others he had seen. Mr. Carlson said he made $75.00 a month and one of his duties was rowing the boat for guests who went fishing. Mr McClintock would not allow motor boats or any motors on Lake Goodrich at this time. As the story goes Mr. McClintock and young Carlson would go out driving the surrounding country roads, and if they came to a sawmill in operation they would stop the car and Mr. McClintock would tell the workers to stop cutting the trees because they were on his land, and he would buy the property on the spot. Mr. Carlson says he feels a lot of the property was purchased that way and probably was never recorded. There were cabins on both Goodrich and O’Brien Lakes and there was access to both lakes via water and the raised bridge allowed boat passage underneath. Mr. McClintock used Goodrich Lake for fishing where no motor boats were allowed and O’Brien Lake was for boating and recreation where he did allow motors! Guests in the cottages ate in the Dining Hall where there were 23 tables and it was an L shaped eating area. White table clothes, napkins and vases of fresh sweet peas from the garden were on each table. The help for the resort consisted of gardeners, maids, a Norwegian cook, handy man and the waitresses. Mrs. McClintock taught the proper way to set the tables and serve the guests. The Hollywood people ate in a special room, according to Mr. Carlson, as they didn’t want to mix with others because they came for privacy! The help made $25.00 a month and lived in the big white farmhouse, still standing not far from the dining hall at the end of Bonnie Lakes Farm Road. It’s being remodeled by George Johnson. Some day take a tour around the area. Bonnie Lakes Farm had the only buildings on Goodrich. It is believed there were two private cabins on south and east shores of O’Brien. There was an ice house where ice blocks were stored in saw dust after they were cut from the lake in winter. One summer, Mrs. McClintock who now stayed in the big white house at Bonnie Lakes Farm while Mr. McClintock stayed and worked in the city, rented the cabins. Mr. McClintock, not knowing this also rented the cabins. Too many guests not enough cabins! So he built new ones to accommodate all the guests rather than disappoint anyone. Mr. McClintock had wood strip fishing boats supposedly the best. Any extra time the help had after filling ice boxes with blocks of ice, splitting wood for fireplaces and cabin stoves was spent scraping old paint from the boats. After every rain each boat was pulled up on the dock and tipped to empty the water. Mr. McClintock made sure his help took very good care of the property. The managers of the McClintock resort were Roy and Ellen Carson. They say Ellen was a wonderful cook and Mr. McClintock’s guests, but also diners who came from other lakes around the area enjoyed her family style meals, not only. Their meals were served on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. Roast chicken was a favorite and it was topped off with chocolate cake and homemade ice cream. At this time both lakes were very clean and clear. There were no cabins on the opposite shores of the lakes. The pines and bush grew in beautiful abundance. The view and the atmosphere were what drew people to vacation at the Bonnie Lakes Farm. About 1945-1946 Mrs. McClintock sold the resort, of now 5000 acres to the managers, Roy and Ellen Carson. They continued the resort for several years. Two new cabins were built in 1947, bringing the number of cabins on each lake to seven. Roy had a brother-in-law who helped him build the cabins. Each cabin had a fireplace or wood stove and they used candles and lamps for their light when there wasn’t a generator available, because all they had for some cabins was a Delco plant or similar power. When Roy Carson sold the resort he kept Leaning Pines, which was the first cabin to be built on O’Brien Lake. This cabin had a very beautiful stone fireplace. He built the cabin next door for his wife’s sister Ethel Pearson. Ethel still spends time in her cabin on O’Brien and her niece lives next door in the cabin Leaning Pines. Mrs. Carson’s sister Ethel Pearson said, she helped out in summers. She served meals, cleaned cabins, etc. She said it was a wonderful place to spend time. She, Ethel, told me there was a fish hatchery where the two lakes come together. She also said at one time the cabins all had names. She remembered some of the names as being; Sunset, Cozy, and Sea Breeze. There was a gray cabin by the dining hall and recreation cabin that was called Beth Streeter Aldrich, after the name of an author who had stayed there and wrote his novel Frank Brandt, who has spent over 75 summers on Lake O’Brien, provided information on Beth Streeter Aldrich. She was a quite famous and prolific author who had written one of her novels “White Bird Flying” while staying at Bonnie Lakes Farm. She has published over one hundred short stories and articles, nine novels and a book of short stories. One novel was made into a movie and another into a television show. Further info is available on the web under her name. John and Betty Sandberg said they would always remember Bonnie Lakes Farm. In June 1946 they honeymooned in one of the cabins and it had twin beds! In the summer of 1947, after a year as students at Hamline University, they were hired to work at the resort. Betty says she helped with the cooking, cleaning cabins and laundry. Don helped with the daily trips to the garbage dump, keeping wood boxes in the cabins full, and he also drove the ice truck and filled each cabin’s ice box each day with a block of ice that had been cut from the lake in the winter time, and then stored in the ice house packed in sawdust. They say there were no complaints on the quality of the ice as many of the guests enjoyed their cool drinks in the heat of the summer. Don was also assigned the task of turning the ice cream churn. It was a ritual for the children of the vacationers to lick the paddle after the ice cream was made. As a child , I remember doing the same thing, what happy memories. How about you? I’m told Roy Carson saw a picture of water skis in a magazine, and being the handy man that he was , he made a pair. He let all who wanted to try them. They say great fun was had by all even though many fell at first try. In the early 1950's Roy Carson sold the McClintock property to Walter and Aimee Palmer. They proceeded to build cabins on shoreline not occupied by resort buildings on the south and east shores of Goodrich. Aimee and Walter Palmer lived in the big old white farmhouse, which was one of the original buildings, until they built their home at what was then, the end of the road. Around 1953-55, Judd Hilton joined the Palmer-Carson team as the Realtors who handled the sale of the cabins and, in some instances, the bare lots, to individual owners. Many cabins have stayed within the same families for 30 years or more, and other families who left the area, the first chance they get they return to buy cabins or homes near the first cabin they owned. The first cabin on Goodrich, as you pass between the two lakes, was owned by a Mr. Kane, a banker from Ohio. He would fly his float plane to the cabin, landing on Goodrich Lake and taxi it to his home by the shore. You can readily see this cabin as you pass between the two lakes and envision Mr. Kane as he flies in and taxies to his hanger. Sounds like a fun happening. Most of the early cabins of the Bonnie Lakes Farm were extremely well built for their time. Most of them have concrete footings with two rows of concrete blocks with screened air vents and crawl in door. Mr McClintock took great pride in his property. I’m sure that is why it has lasted. I heard from C.W.(Cal) Mork, who tells me that in 1942 he had purchased a lot on Serpent Lake in Deerwood , Minnesota, due to the increase of traffic in the area, he wanted a more secluded place. In 1954 he heard of Lake O’Brien from a friend of his who had a lot there. He took a look, and it was what he wanted. He purchased a lot #1 in the second addition. He says he paid $1200.00 for the lot and had his cabin built just as is stands today. He believes this was the first completed cabin on the west shore of the lake by 1958. He says he also had the first pontoon boat on the lake. He was in the service station business and saved the small barrels from there - he welded them together for the floats and built an 8 by 12 foot platform with sides. It was powered by a three horse-power outboard motor. Mrs. Mork told me Robert Balmer’s grandmother taught school in a building at the entrance of Bonnie Lakes Farm just off 36. In fact the teacher, Blanche Balmer Maine, was creamated and her ashes are buried between the two Norway pine trees at Priscilla Balmers’s lake shore on O’Brien Lake. The trees are now about 50 feet tall. In the early 1960's there was only one speed boat on Goodrich. Four boys had homemade hydroplanes each made by father-son team, which were the personal water craft of their times. Each boat was about 8' long and 8' wide and only 14" deep. They were powered by motors up to about 10 HP but skipped across the lake up to 35 MPH! Many years ago there was a big forest fire in our lake area, and they had to use the CCC men to put out the fire as it was so intensive. Shamrock Road is named for the public resort which, until the late 50's, was the only public resort ever in operation on either lake. It has since been sold as individual properties. There were seven cabins there. There used to be a public camp ground on the property on the north shore of Lake Goodrich. “Porky’s Pen” on the north side of Lake Goodrich was the name of the property now owned by the Albert Lea area Boy Scouts, now called the Cuyuna Range Boy Scouts Camp. To get to it from here you must either travel logging trails accessed from the new end of the road which runs along the north shore of Lake Goodrich, or enter off of highway #3. The Boy Scouts also used state property for their rope swing on the West shore of Lake O’Brien. It is to this property that they canoed during many of the camp sessions each summer. The “Bunny Trail” as it’s been known for years, is at the end of the road, and has been a shortcut between Goodrich and O’Brien for hikers, berry pickers, bicyclists and ATV’s since the mid 1950's. This property is owned by Larry Farmer. During the 1960's, Indians could be seen harvesting rice on Lake Goodrich! There once was a tall lone pine tree in the marsh area on the West shore of Lake Goodrich. It was the site of a large Bald Eagles nest for many years. People spent hours watching the feeding and flights of the new families of eaglets each year. Once the tree fell, the birds retreated to a new site not easily observed by Goodrich summer residents. Our two lakes are located in a large heavily wooded area with the only public road #36 leading into both lakes. The main road known as Bonnie Lake Farm Road runs between the two lakes to the area of West side of O’Brien, where the road is called McClintock after the original owner of Bonnie Lakes Farm. Part of our area is located in Fairfield Township and part in Crosslake in Crow Wing County. Our area is located approximately four miles east of Crosslake, a nice little town with post office, churches, stores, restaurants, gas stations, grocery store, marinas, bakery, police and fire departments,city hall, phone and cable company, lumber yards, hardware store, pharmacy, ice cream and pizza shop, boat shop, water slide, golf course and miniature golf and many more, even a camp ground on Cross Lake all one would need while spending time at the lake. How the area has grown since the beginning of Bonnie Lake Farm. Our two lakes both have hard sandy beaches and they are spring fed with exceptionally clear water and they do not get green during the seasons. There are no drop offs and so the beaches are safe for small children as well as adults. . I’ve been told our fishing here in our two lakes is as good as any other Minnesota lake. There is almost every species of game fish mainly Northern Pike, Walleye Pike, Small and Large mouth Bass, Crappies, Sunfish, Perch and even a few Bullheads. The fish caught in these lakes have solid meat and do not have a muddy taste. There are over 400 acres of lake shores that have many picturesque deer trail. There is a six mile game reserve surrounding the lakes with many deer and other wild animals that can be seen. A no hunting law is in effect for the game reserve except for a bow & arrow deer hunting season. I’ve seen fox and deer, etc. in my own yard and there have been black bear spotted once in awhile. We are fortunate to have so many beautiful trees, such as the oak, birch, pine, maple, aspen etc. There are also many raspberry bushes if you know where to look. The Goodrich-O’Brien Lakeshore Association came into being in approximately 1958 by Aimee Palmer after she had purchased the Bonnie Lakes Farm property. The first meeting was held on the lawn of the big white Bonnie Lakes Farmhouse. The big house still stands there today. Though it stands vacant today I’m sure it has a lot of stories to tell. At one time the association wanted to make a park and baseball diamond on the property of the old white farmhouse but it was sold as a parcel to a private party. Aimee served as secretary to the association from 1958 to 1970 never missing a meeting. She passed away in 1994. The association board meets once a month when necessary and there are three social/business meetings a year, when more people are in residence. These are held in May, July, and September close to Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day. The Association stocks each lake periodically with small fish, fingerlings they are called. This was started about ten years or so ago by the GOLA members and after a large donation by Inez Israel, named the Walter Israel Fish Fund in memory of her husband. This fund is still active today and it is funded by donations from association members. PREVIOUS STOCKING ? There are many plus’s we lake home owners enjoy from our association. Not only are the lakes stocked with fingerlings but water is tested periodically, there’s a constant check of purple loosestrife and other unwelcome growth and with permit of DNR are eliminated. Barrels are at both lake access hoping all will check their boats for Eurasian water milfoil. It takes all of us to keep our lakes clear and weed free. At one time the Goodrich/O’Brien Lakeshore Association had on its books a guideline which limited speedboat use to the hours of 10 am to 6 pm so as not to disturb the fisherman who were fishing on the lake Goodrich. This followed the ruling set up by Mr. McClintock the original owner who in the earlier days said Goodrich was for fishing and O’Brien for the faster forms of recreation. Today, both lakes are used for both types of recreation. The deepest depth of Lake Goodrich is 35 feet maximum and Lake O’Brien’s deepest area is 49 feet maximum. The association formerly saw that the roads were graded and snow plowed when needed. Crosslake and Fairfield Township now maintain our roads. Two years ago in 1995 they installed a counter on Bonnie Lake Farm Road and found that 11,239 vehicles had traveled the road between August 2 to September 2, a daily average of 362 with the heaviest count of 528 on Friday, September 2. Our association also closely monitors the lakes for water quality, water level and noxious weeds. The lakes are periodically tested for Ph values, dissolved oxygen, water temperature and clarity. With help from the Pine River Watershed Protection Foundation the lakes were tested for phosphorus and found to have the lowest, the best readings of the lakes in the area. The phosphorous can come from septic run off, ashes from beach camp fires and fertilizer. High phosphorous readings lead to excessive nourishment and pollution of the lake water and weed growth. The GOLA is to be thanked for their part in getting extra gravel put at the boat launching site between the two lakes, making boat launching much easier. These landings will be closed next year by Fairfield Township and new boat launching sites are being sought. There are close to 200 home owners on the two lakes now and the association has printed a great directory listing names, addresses, phone numbers and fire box numbers. It’s a wonderful help to all of us. One of the many plus’s to being an association member.