Historic North Shore Lodges
Cascade Lodge is located about nine miles southwest of Grand Marais and just east of the Cascade River on land Edward Ogilvie purchased in 1922. He opened the lodge in 1927, also offering summer housing in three cabins. The first lodge building was torn down just twelve years later to make room for a grander structure, which was expanded in 1957. Business took off after the North Shore Road was fully paved in 1933 and a boost was provided by the promotion of the North Shore as “America’s Hay Fever Haven.” When the Lutsen Ski area opened in 1948, the Lodge stayed open year round.
It was a Swedish, not Norwegian, immigrant who settled Lutsen, Cook County’s third permanent settlement (only Grand Portage and Grand Marais preceded it). Carl Axel “Charlie” Nelson (born in Norkoping, Ostergotland, Sweden, in 1863) came to the United States when he was eighteen, eventually finding work in Duluth on the fishing tug Evaston. After toying with the idea of working with Alfred Merritt on the Arrowhead’s iron range, he contracted with the A. Booth Company to set up a fishery, which he established near the Poplar River.
The Poplar River—at whose mouth was found the Charlie Nelson’s homestead—takes its Anglicized name directly from the Ojibwe name, Gamanazadikizibi or “Place-of-Poplars River.” The Poplar is perhaps best known as the site of Nelson’s Lutsen Resort, which he first called “Lutzen House” when he began hosting hunters, anglers, and occasionally those who suffered from hay fever or tuberculosis starting around 1900. Today the area includes the resort’s Swedish lodge (designed by Edwin Lundie in 1952), Lutsen Mountain ski hill (opened in 1948), and a golf course laid out along the Poplar’s banks.
Five businessmen from Duluth (including R. D. Handy, a postcard publisher) created the Naniboujou Lodge, a private (and quite grand) sportsman’s getaway fifteen miles northeast of Grand Marais, which opened in 1927. The lodge takes its name from Nanaboozoo (“trembling tail”), a trickster character of Ojibwe legend, a spirit or a half man/half woman archetype who had many misadventures.
Among its more famous members were boxer Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth, and writer Ring Lardner. The resort is expansive, boasting a half-mile of shoreline on either side of the mouth of the Brule River (site of Devil’s Kettle Falls). When first developed, it encompassed 3,300 acres, much of which is now part of Judge C. R. Magney State Park. It boasted a grand lodge and plans were made for tennis courts and other amenities. Unfortunately, the Lodge only drew half of the one thousand members it needed to survive. It was turned over to a hotel chain in the 1930s and still operates as a hotel today.