My family and I loved tent camping. From spring until autumn, we planned camping trips for my wife and two children — then three children — and finally, four children.
We would camp two weekends per month. We enjoyed many Minnesota state parks, KOA campgrounds, annual spring trips to Disney World in Florida, and elsewhere. We never wanted a second property because we enjoyed the flexibility and variety of our weekend trips. Among our favorite Minnesota destinations was Jay Cooke State Park in Carlton County. One weekend, we decided to drive over to Chub Lake and enjoy the public swimming beach. Chub Lake was less than a 10-minute drive from our Jay Cooke campsite. After swimming, we drove the road around Chub Lake. I saw a “for sale” sign and decided to drive down the dirt road just for the fun of it. Before the end of the road, I saw a little one-room cabin (and two small separate buildings and an outhouse) with a beautiful view of Chub Lake. I immediately said to my wife that we should buy.
We drove to the Realtor’s office and bought the tiny property, along with an old power boat, for $15,200. I thought the cabin would be the perfect hangout for my sons and me. I did not realize how much my wife and daughters and friends would enjoy it, too. The inevitable happened. We tore down the existing buildings, designed a modified A-frame and lined up a contractor. The county said the property was too small to build a new building. Fortunately, our neighbor/farmer sold us 25 feet of property, allowing us to build. On many weekends, we would stain cedar boards for the interior and exterior. We also split boulders to build our fieldstone fireplace mantle. We then built a guesthouse at the original site.
Our neighbor eventually sold us an additional 150 feet of lake shore that extends all the way back to the road that surrounds the lake. We renovated the barn that was on the new property to include living quarters, a museum for my “collectibles” and storage. Unfortunately, lightning struck the barn in 2005, and it burned to the ground. Insurance payments enabled us to rebuild the 40-by-60 building with living quarters, a game room and storage area. With a growing family, we added a large room to the main cabin. We now have bedrooms and sofa beds that can accommodate more than 25 people. Our children and their families and our friends love our property and mostly the time we share. We are blessed to have a beautiful place on a lake.
Leo Schroeder, Minneapolis