Remembering Past Lake Resorts
It’s no secret that the shores of Howard Lake have been an attraction to both fisherman and recreational users since settlers first appeared in the territory.
Many resorts and lakeside restaurants once graced this lake that no longer exist today, with the exception of Codger’s Cove Campground, originally called Breezy Point.
In fact, the late Louis Reinmuth, son of Middleville Township’s first settler George Reinmuth, once had a thriving resort called North Shore Acres, according to Louis’ son Ed Reinmuth.
The resort was located near the public boat landing on the north shore. There were three cabins built for the resort. Two were rental units and one was dedicated as a concession stand during weekends and holidays, Reinmuth said.
“We’d sell ice cream and candy. We’d make the ice cream ourselves, and I was called ‘the profit taker,’” he laughed.
Back “in the day” Howard Lake enthusiasts could rent a boat for 25 cents an outing right from the shores of Howard Lake from North Shores Acres resort.
“I remember, in the late 1940s and 1950s, I’d ride a bike there and rent a cedar strip boat for 25 cents an evening,” longtime Howard Lake resident Jim Wackler said. “I’d go out on the lake and catch a bunch of sunfish,” he added.
Ed Reinmuth would help his father take care of the cedar strip boats.
“They were a lot of maintenance. We’d have to paint them every year. They’d weather pretty bad, and dry out and leak, otherwise,” Ed explained.
Outboard motors didn’t first appear on the lake until around 1938, Ed recalled.
North Shore Acres sold bait, and to keep the minnows (that were harvested from the Crow River) from dying, Ed’s father kept them in a stock tank that was shared with their dairy cattle herd.
“The cattle drank a lot so we were always pumping more water into the tank, which kept the water fresh enough for the minnows,” Ed laughed.
“I’ve got a lot of memories, and could tell a lot of stories about the resort. Once somebody parked on the hill and didn’t lock their brakes. The car rolled into the edge of the lake. I think a team of horses pulled it out,” Ed laughed.
One Fourth of July, Ed remembers when about 30 campers got rained out, and asked his father what they could do. His father told the campers they could sleep in the haymow of their barn.
“He told them they couldn’t smoke, and that the hay was quite flammable,” he said.
One cabin of the three remains today. One of the cabins burned, and another one was torn down.
When the property was originally settled by George, no one else was in the general area.
“My great grandfather and a fellow named August Enke walked out here from Minneapolis and built a log cabin on the north shore of the lake. Then the next year, Enke built next to him,” Ed said.
“Actually, my great grandfather built two log cabins. The first one just had a bark roof and clay floor it didn’t last long so they built another one. Later, they built a farmplace on the hill in 1890, and then a barn about 1911,” Ed explained.
The late Dr. Thiesse bought the farm and built a house closer to the lake. The original farmhouse was torn down only about six or seven years ago. The barn remains in great shape today, and Ed said he gives Thiesse credit for taking good care of the barn.
Breezy Point was another resort that once existed on the shores of Howard Lake. It was built in 1920 and was later purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Emil Wagner in 1934, according to Lois Nedegaard of Codger’s Cove Campground. Then in 1952, it was sold to Art and Rose Moline, who then sold the resort in the early 1960s to Gus and Ruby Hitten.
“After six years of ownership, or so, the Hitten’s sold Breezy Point to Don and Adell Mumford,” Nedegaard said.
“In 1997, Gilbert and Judy (Mumford) Torres purchased the property and the name was changed to Vista Del Lago, and they operated the campground until 2005,” she added.
In 2005, Bruce Nedegaard purchased the property, and changed the name to Codger’s Cove. He removed all the buildings, and made it into a full campground with a new lodge that houses a game/activity room, a small store, and showers and restrooms.
Just north of Codger’s Cove, where rental housing now exists today, was a resort that was at first called Heldt’s Resort. Clinton “Timber” Dahlberg bought the property and renamed it Timber’s Resort.
After another change in ownership, the resort became a restaurant called the Garden Spot of Middleville. It had a banquet hall upstairs, and a restaurant downstairs.
Eventually, the building was torn down to make way for today’s rental housing.
Then there was the Lou Roberts Resort on the east side of the lake.
“At first, the cabins were located on the west side of the road, right on the lake,” longtime Howard Lake resident George Jones said. “But after the DNR raised the water level of the lake because of the terrible drought of the 1930s, the cabins were moved across the road.”
“The resort had a dock and restaurant. The old swimming beach was located by the resort, too,” Jones said.
Many old newspaper articles sing the praises of the swimming beach on Howard Lake. It had an H-shaped dock, which worked well for teaching swimming lessons.
One more resort once graced the shores of Howard Lake, and that was Char-Mar’s Landing. Charlie “Chuck” and Margie Dahlberg started the resort, and the name is a combination of Char-lie and Mar-gie, thus Char-Mar.
Located just south of Memorial Park, “It had a 3:2 bar, bait shop, and dock,” said Howard Lake resident Bonnie Durdahl.
Char-Mar’s Landing was sold, and became Tulik’s Restaurant, before eventually being torn down.
A motel was then built on the property, and it now is the site of the New Beginning’s Treatment Center.
The shores of Howard Lake have definitely seen their share of activities over the years. It has also been the site of a historic swim by World War II bound soldiers, who stopped for a dip before continuing on their journey. It has bagged many-a-fisherman record sized fish. The lake continues to be the source of beauty and recreation for the community.