Cabin Country: Shopping for the perfect cabin

  • Article by: KAY THOMPSON and TONKA BAY
  • Updated: August 22, 2014 - 7:06 AM

The Thompsons purchased this tamarack log cabin, located near Rice Lake, Wis., in 1991.

While visiting friends on an island near Lake Vermilion in 1990, we discovered a nearby cabin available for under $30,000. Maybe we could afford to have a little getaway!

My husband had grown up spending every summer on a lake near Detroit Lakes. We both loved boats, water recreation and the peaceful joy of watching the water from a deck or porch. Thus began our search. The little cabin near Lake Vermilion had just sold when we inquired. We looked at places on the Yellow River, the Gunflint Trail, the Namekagon River and countless lakes in northwest Wisconsin.

One fall weekend we were near Rice Lake, Wis., for a couples’ retreat. We went driving around and happened upon a gorgeous lake that was off the beaten path. We looked at an old south-facing log cabin named “The Tamaracks,” a charming place which hadn’t been ruined by modernization. We made an offer in the spring, but the cabin had just sold.

The next fall we inquired again about the cabin and learned the sale had fallen through. So we made the offer again and bought our 90-year-old tamarack log cabin in 1991. The owners sold it to us completely furnished, right down to their family pictures and a chenille bedspread full of mouse nests. We threw out a few things, recovered some other things, sewed cushions and curtains, and thankfully saved the “coma cot” on the screened porch. No one has spent time lying on the cot without falling into a blissful deep sleep.

We learned about the history of our neighborhood. After the area was logged, men from Belvidere, Ill., came up on the train. For many years all the new cabins being built were for people from Belvidere. Many people up and down the beach still have ties to those early owners.

We have loved our little slice of heaven. Each spring it is exciting to go to the cabin and open up for the season. Kids and grandkids have enjoyed watching the loons, the beavers, the otters and the eagles. The bunkhouse is a favorite with the grandkids. There is no TV and no Wi-Fi. Canoeing in the morning is wonderfully peaceful. We hope The Tamaracks continues to charm the next generation.



TELL US about your hideout, be it a lakeside lodge or a primitive fire pit. Email your story along with photos to or submit online at Don't forget your name, city of residence and the general vicinity of your cabin or campsite. 

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