Bruce and I were sitting around talking after dinner. The question came up about how old the lodge was. We tend to start counting the age of Gunflint from when Grandma Spunner and Justine bought it in 1929. But, of course, that is not correct. It is actually 90 years old.
Gunflint Lodge was started in 1925 by Dora Blankenburg and her son, Russell. The Blankenburgs bought a small resort called Lighthouse Lodge in Three Lakes, Wisconsin in 1920. They catered to wealth fishermen from the Chicago area. As one of their guests was checking out, the guest said that even though they had been happy at the lodge, the next summer they would be checking out a new fishing area in Minnesota called Gunflint.
Russell came up to investigate the Gunflint area. In 1925 he bought some land on Gunflint Lake for the family to build a resort on. They built Gunflint Lodge, a small lodge with three rental units. Running a second resort so far away from the first was more difficult than they had expected. After a few years, Mrs. Blankenburg decided to sell the new resort.
The Blankenburgs also owned property on Lake Zurich in Illinois. One of their neighbors and friends were the Spunner family from Barrington, Illinois. Mr. Spunner was a lawyer who had helped with the purchase of the land for Gunflint Lodge. After a visit to Gunflint Lodge, Mrs. Spunner and her daughter, Justine, decided to buy Gunflint Lodge. They sold two farms to come up with the money for the down payment. The purchase happened in August of 1929. It was not the best time to invest in a new resort but no one knew that at the time.
While Mrs. Blankenburg returned to run Lighthouse Lodge, Russell Blankenburg stayed in the Gunflint Trail. He took money out of the stock market and bought property on Loon, Gunflint, Seagull and Saganaga Lakes. Over the years he would build resorts, run canoe outfitters and sell land for summer homes on this property. Russell’s story will be told in another blog.
Meanwhile, as this picture shows, Bruce has finished his fireplace for #18. Right now it is a big mess to get cleaned up and ready for guests. Bruce’s body is quite happy the job is finished.
The ice on Gunflint Lake is quickly going out. Right now the entire bay in front of Cross River Lodge is out. We are due to have warm temperatures and wind during the next week. That will probably take the ice out pretty quickly.
Not everyone is happy to see the ice go out as we discovered during lunch today. We were looking out at the lake and what should appear but an otter. The animal was running across the lake for about 6 steps and then doing a belly flop and sliding on the ice. We all stood watching until it reached our shore and disappeared among the rocks. It was perfectly obvious that the otter was enjoying every minute of his play time. We were tempted.