The Story of the Last Resort – Part Two

Here is Part Two of the story!! (Scroll down for part one)

It was going to be a beautiful day in Eagle River, so the girls and I headed to town for breakfast at Don’s Dinky Diner. Don was a passionate golfer and manned the grill like a drill sergeant. Cindy was his one and only waitress and she hopped around from booth to booth and covered the counter. The best of the best was his Chicken Dumpling Soup at noon. It always quickly sold out. Don’s really was a dinky diner as you had to squeeze down the aisle to make your way to a booth or the bathroom. Yes, it was Don’s Dinky Bathroom too. The place is still there across from the old train station but is now called Jen’s Dinky Diner. Cindy is still in Eagle River as she owns and operates “Cindy Covers it” on HWY 45 South towards 3 Lakes. She does excellent work in boat covers, reupholsterey, etc.

After breakfast we did a brief tour of the town and shopped in a few stores, mostly for fudge. The only fast food joint was a Hardee’s where the new Trig’s store is East of town. Eagle River had one stoplight and that was at the corner of Railroad Street and Wall Street.

The railroad tracks were still in place but the train service to Chicago was no longer available. Lots of folks used to get off work Friday afternoon in Chicago and grab the train to Eagle River. They would spend Saturday and Sunday vacationing and take the last train back to get to Chicago in time for work on Monday. The Railroad started to remove the rails and railroad ties and they were selling heartwood ties for $1.75 each. Check out the price now. We still have some of the ties at the resort as tire bumpers in front of Cottage 5, 6 and 8.

When we returned to the Char Lou I had a long chat with Gordon and LaVerne. Seems that Louis and Charlotte Hall bought the property back in the 1940’s and started building one cottage at a time using wood from the trees on the property. Hence cottage 1, 2, 3, etc as that was the order they were built in. They also built a supper club just North of the resort and it was one of the most lively and hopping supper clubs in the area. In later years the property was sold on the old Land Contract deal to folks that wanted to get away from the big city and make a fortune running a resort. Land contracts usually have a balloon payment at 5 years and the new owners found themselves in trouble as Banks did not want to loan money on resorts. The properties were usually upside down on land value to building value. The places in Eagle River were bought, repossessed, resold, repossessed several times. I made a quick decision to buy the place and went to Eagle River State Bank to arrange financing. Well, surprise, surprise. They did not want to finance the resort. I would have to divide the property anyway as the resort was adjacent to the supper club. Everyone I knew said NEVER, EVER buy a supper club. I let my heels cool a bit but wanted very much to buy the resort.

I received a phone call about a month later from a fellow by the name of Jerry Nitke in Rhinelander. He said he bought the resort and supper club and wanted to sell them both. Evidently he had the cash to make the move at the time and was just looking to make a profit. I immediately said YES and had to get to work to come up with a down payment. He offered to finance the resort at the going interest rate. Remember Jimmy Carter?? Interest rates were 19% in 1982!!! But there was no turning back now. I had recently finished building a real cool open cockpit biplane for aerobatic flight. I made the decision to sell the plane and use the money for the down payment. A week later I drove from Chicago to Eagle River, signed the papers, gave him the down payment and turned around and drove back to Chicago. Long day indeed. I now owned a resort and did not have a clue of how to operate or maintain it. Talk about a learning curve coming up! Whoa Nelly!

To be continued………….

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