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The Story of the Last Resort: Part One

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

Ever wonder how the Lumley’s came to own Eagle River’s Last Resort?? Well, wonder no more. John Lumley wanted to share the story with all of you! We hope you enjoy it, and it shows you how much we are in love with our resort. Here is part one:

July 1982 found my 3 daughters and I, (Victoria, Suzanne and Jennifer) camping at Franklin Lake campground. It rained. Not only did it rain but it rained for 3 days straight. We were floating on our air mattresses inside our spacious tent. Finally enough was enough so we loaded everything in the boat, hooked up the trailer to the car and headed for Eagle River.

We drove directly to the Information Bureau which was located in the old train station across from the Colonial House which is now Soda Pops. The Eagle River City Police department shared the other half of the train station. We four soaked and sodden vacationers entered the building and managed to drip our way to the counter.

Sharon Congleton and Nancy Pophal were the two compassionate ladies that were staffing the office. We told them our tale of woe and asked them about vacancies at a resort. We were anxious for a hot shower and a warm dry bed.

Naturally the second week of July offered little vacancies, and it appeared we were going to have to head South to Rhinelander. Sharon said that there was a chance that we may rent a cottage at a resort that was no longer open but the caretakers were most likely there. She said not to expect much in the way of deluxe accommodations. We immediately hopped in the car and drove to the Char Lou Resort on Otter Lake.

We pulled up to the property off Otter Lane and tooted the horn to see if anyone was around. An elderly couple by the names of LaVern and Gordon Darton owned the place and came out to see who was making all the noise. I explained our predicament, and they offered to rent us cottage 3 for the sum of $15.00 per night. I quickly produced cash before they changed their minds. We actually were able to drive right up to the front of the cottage as there was no large deck as there is now.

We unpacked a few items and made our way in the front door. Whoa Nelly. Ceiling tiles were drooping down, the carpeting was pre 1940, the furniture was pre, pre 1940 with the old formica and chrome table and chairs. The beds had the old box springs that you could see through and the mattresses had the stripes and buttons like in prison. (I am only guessing since I have not slept on a prison mattress yet!) Naturally when you got into bed you rolled right in the middle to the low spot. But it was dry and we were elated. We managed to rustle up some grub from our camping gear and decided to hit the hay and get a good nights sleep.

I awoke about 6 am, and it was brilliantly sunny and calm. I quietly slipped out of bed, got dressed and made my way toward the lake. I walked down what is now the main path to the beach area and when I passed through the trees to the opening to the lake I was stunned.

There were harps singing, stars shooting, bands playing, and I was overwhelmed at the sheer magnificence of the view. It’s like when you go shopping and do not know quite what you are looking for until you see it. I stood there transfixed and knew immediately in my heart and mind that this is what I have been looking for all my life. I just did not know it until now.

To be continued…

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