“Doc’s Lodge,” is not just a picture book about one of the first mom and pop resorts on Leech Lake, but a story about the family who built the Stony Point resort and the new friends who played a vital role in them coming to Walker.
Janet Carlson, the daughter of Dr. Olaf Christenson, a dentist from Albert City, Iowa, who ventured to northern Minnesota more than 80 years ago in search of the perfect spot he wanted to build a resort wrote the book. Now age 88, Carlson, along with her husband, daughter and son-in-law were in Walker recently to give a copy to the Cass County Historical Society. Before that she also donated a copy to the Minnesota Historical Society.
The book Carlson put together was published by Steve Carlson, Doc’s grandson and Janet’s son.
In an excerpt, Janet said, “It was my dad’s dream to build a fishing lodge in Canada. He had gone on a fishing trip with several friends to Lake Kabetogama ... the summer of 1936 or 1937. That might have been the beginning of the dream. The next summer we made out first trip to northern Minnesota in pursuit of a possible lake site. Actually this was a compromise with my mom, who had said flat ‘No,’ to Canada. We parked our trailer in a pasture across the road from Pleasant Lake near Hackensack, and camped there for our first vacation in Minnesota.”
The following summers, 1939 and 1940, the Christenson family parked their trailer next to the Walker City Park. “Dad found a new friend in the local dentist, Dr. Bright, who owned a family cabin on Stony Point. He told dad the best site for a fishing lodge on Leech Lake was a 400-foot piece of lakeshore just north of his cabin owned by a French-Indian family by the name of Bedeau,” Carlson wrote.
A lease for the property was signed Jan. 13, 1941, and it was approved Feb. 17, 1941. The lease was for five years.
By late May of 1941, a crew of carpenters and handymen arrived in Walker and began building six cabins, a main lodge, an ice house, privy, pump house, drilled a well, built a dock and made boat racks for six Larson boats.
In the summer of 1951, the Cass Lake Chippewa Agency opened the land for sale in a one-chance sealed bid. “I went with my dad to Cass Lake with his bid of $5,000. There was no second bidder and the land was ours,” Janet wrote.
In October of 1961, the resort was sold to Bena and Gordon Erickson. Doc was diagnosed with lymphoma that fall and died the following February.
Doc’s Lodge, which was operated by the Erickson family and Lesetmoes, closed in 2003 and the land sold. A new lake home was constructed on the site in 2004-2005.
“The era of the small fishing camp is quickly coming to an end as lake shore becomes more valuable and resort profits dwindle,” Janet wrote in 2004.