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A History of Ten Mile Lake

by Lorraine Stromquist

Ten Mile Lake, one of the deepest, cleanest, and clearest in the State of Minnesota, is considered relatively pristine. The lake headwaters the Boy River, which runs through a chain of 15 lakes before emptying into Leech Lake. The origin of Ten Mile Lake can be traced to three different glacial periods that covered the area, the last of which occurred some 10,000 years ago. The lake is thought to be an "ice block" lake, created when a retreating glacier left a huge block of ice in the cavity it had gouged; as the ice melted, the lake was formed.

Native American Settlements

Some of the stories told about the lake say that the Indians of the region refused to settle around the lake or even camp near it because they believed it to be inhabited by a monster or devil, and called it "Devil Lake." (Some residents in this century have claimed to see the monster, most recently Virginia Wagner, when fishing.) In spite of these stories, traces of early Native-American settlements are evident in the region: one between Ten Mile and Gadbolt Lakes, another in the Flower Pot Bay area, and possibly a third off lower Long Bay. The Indians are believed to have fished in the lake, picked berries, and collected maple sap for sugar. Willa Shonkwiler found a unique arrowhead on her land and "Cub" Stromquist found an anchor rock.

About 1990, John Alden found four small mounds on the ridge northwest of Flower Pot Bay. We believe they are burial mounds, and have not disturbed them but reported them to State archaeologists. The site has not been excavated. There may have been a temporary or permanent Native American settlement at Flower Pot, or on the flatland below the ridge; thus a logical burial site would have been the nearby hillside. In the past, archaeologists have checked the lowland going west from Flowerpot Bay and reported they had found evidence of Native American usage.

Near the start of the Boy River is a shallow stretch with a hard sandy bottom; this would be an easy crossing point. In 1975, the owners of a house on the west bank of the river dug under it to make a basement. There they discovered four skeletons, stacked one on another. Sheriff Chalish was notified; pictures and notes were taken, but the information has been lost or misplaced. The skeletons were sent to St. Paul, but no further information has been received.

Logging, Farming, and Tourism

Large-scale logging was underway at the turn of the century. While cutting activities were at their peak, Ten Mile Lake was an important artery for transporting logs to an established rail site.

As the logging faded, individuals seeking good farm land settled in and around the lake in early part of the 20th century. Some established homesteads including one on Angel Island, one just off Lundstrom's Bay, one along the North Shore, one on the South Shore, and one on what became the Albert Thomas farm on lower Long Bay. Other scattered farms existed in the area.

Tourism also became a new business following the waning of logging, as tourists were drawn by the clean and clear water of the lake which teemed with northern pike, bass, and walleyed pike. Resorts were established around the lake and individual summer cabins were built. During the 1930's, the drought and the Great Depression combined to blunt enthusiasm for vacation properties but once World War II ended, buying resumed and gained momentum.

Today, few resorts remain; the number of permanent homes is increasing; the rest of the shoreline is dotted with seasonal residences; and only a scattering of shoreline parcels remain undeveloped.

Early resorts and campgrounds bordering Ten Mile Lake include the island resort, Ya-ma-na-Me-nis-ing. Anna Marie Robertson purchased the island in 1921 and developed it into a resort. Its name was eventually changed to Klose-to-Nature Camp. It was sold in 1947 to Owen and Delores Heusmann and named Wild Acres Resort. In 1951 George Brandt, Jr. bought the island, then named Angel Island (and now called by the family Brandts' Island). Resorts and camps numbered up to twenty, a few of which include Happiness Resort, Hillaway Girls' Camp, Pinewood Resort, and Quietwoods Campground and Resort, each with its own intriguing history, too detailed to include here. (A proposed history book of Ten Mile Lake is to be written in the near future which will describe each one.)

Early Schools

There were four one-room schools for the children of early pioneers who arrived after the lumbermen had logged the area. Lothrup School in Hiram Township opened in 1900, but in 1905 the school was moved to property donated by Anton Linneberg at the south end of the section of Boy River which joins Ten Mile lake to Birch Lake, near the bridge on the east shore of the river on County Road #6, now known as Lower Ten Mile Lake Road NW.

Another school was the Martin School, one mile south of Ten Mile lake, which opened around 1914 and was named for local residents Victor and Tilde Martin. It closed in 1921, but the building was used as the Hiram Township Hall until 1967, when it burned down and all of the township records were lost. The present Hiram Township Hall was rebuilt on the same site.

Lakeview School is the only one-room school in Hiram Township still standing, but it has been incorporated into a larger home owned by W. T. McGill on the southwest corner of Ten Mile Lake on property purchased by the McGills in 1956.

The fourth area school was Shofner School in Shingobee Township, on the west side of Big Bass Lake, near the home of early resident Mitt Shofner. It operated from 1913 to 1918. Mitt's son Basil Shofner, and Basil's nephews Jessie Eckman and the late Jim Petrie, have worked for north shore residents.

Teachers boarded with near-by residents for the school term. They signed contracts stating they would not marry, smoke, or drink. Popular accepted activities were Friday night dances and winter skating parties. At one time, due to reorganization and consolidation of one-room schools, Hackensack's school was much larger than Walker's.

Ten Mile Lake Association, Inc.

In 1946 a homeowners' association was formed which combined both Birch and Ten Mile Lakes. This joint arrangement ended, and in 1958 the Ten Mile Lake Association, Inc., was organized. The Association now has over 680 members, both resident and non-resident. Over the years the Association has worked closely with DNR, studying and improving fishing conditions, launching environmental studies and sponsoring concurrent educational activities on behalf of its members.

The Association has adopted a long-range management plan; primary goals are to protect the lake's water quality, preserve its fish and wildlife habitat, and, if possible, enhance the entire area's natural environment. Ten Mile Lake's development as an area of homes, cabins, and a limited number of resorts and camps strongly affects the Hackensack area. It contributes a diversified group of people who actively participate in social, religious, and business activities of the local community.

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Copyright 2001-2016 Ten Mile Lake Association. All rights reserved.
Revised: June 30, 2016.

This site was created and is maintained by G. Cox.
Please send any feedback or content to association@tenmilelake.org.

Ten Mile Lake Association, Inc. P.O. Box 412, Hackensack, MN 56452