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The Story of The Last Resort: Final Part

Part Twelve of how the Last Resort came to be! Scroll down to read Parts One through Eleven!

So where were we? Oh yes, Zoning administrator. Finally Carol and I made an appointment with the new Administrator to plead our case. We brought in documentation that showed it was a cottage, testimony from past customers, testimony from the Vilas County Supervisor and local businesses that confirmed that it was a rental cottage. Finally we were given our permit to rebuild the cottage and it only took 10 years to get it.

In the meantime I had been cutting timber on the property including White Pine and Birch and had a gentleman with a portable sawmill come out and turn the logs into REAL one inch thick planks. I took them to the airport and stored them in my aircraft hangar (properly stuck for drying) and they were seasoned by the time I got my permit. Carol and I had been doing Estate sales, garage sales and flea markets buying the necessary furnishings, lamps, etc., for the new Lake House during this time.

We began in earnest and after another 12 years the Lake House was finished. We did most of the work ourselves and only had the summer months to do the labor. I had the one inch planks in storage planed down and turned into tongue and groove boards. The living room is completely done in Birch and the kitchen in White Pine. The log staircase was a kit made of local White Pine too. Finally the day came when the Lake House was ready and I wish I had a dozen of them at the resort.

Another beautiful building in Eagle River is the Eagle River Recreation Associations Ice hockey building on 70 East of town. This huge building was built by sports enthusiast Mr. Taylor of Eagle River in the 1930’s. It is a complete dome structure with no vertical support. It is magnificently designed by a German engineer with wood under compression for its support.These days it’s one of the top Hockey Schools in the USA and has brought home the Stanley Cup on one occasion when Craig Ludwig brought it to one 4th of July parade as his team won the cup.

This property was previously owned by the Dorfman Insurance Company of Chicago. There was a huge structure behind the dome that looked like a ski jump but was actually a toboggan run that sent tobogganer’s out over Taylor Lake in the winter. History buffs have said that the FBI actually did a drag search in Taylor Lake looking for Jimmy Hoffa. Evidently there was some Teamsters Pension money and the Chicago Mafia hovering around the area back then. You can learn more by going to the Eagle River Historical Museum on Hwy 45 just South of town, the old Railroad Station on Railroad street across from Soda Pops or by taking a personally guided Eagle River Twisted History tour with Lizzie Lumley of the Last Resort. Reservations required.

Well, that about brings us up to date. We have added the new Gazebo to the resort which is a nice place to hang out. We may be doing a project on the forest land across the street from the resort in the near future. The Otter Lake trailer bowl has closed its doors and all units must be out by June 30th, 2015. Old Tom Fegers started that place in the early 40’s and it has become an iconic trailer park. Nothing stays the same forever I guess. Most of the kids up here do not want to carry on the tradition of the old family business.

Eagle River has changed since that day in 1982 when it became a big part of my life. From no traffic lights to multiple lights, too many banks for common sense, fast food places, Walgreens of all things but finally a good Mexican Restaurant. If you have not tried Agave Azul make it a point to go if you like Mexican food and large, delicious Margaritas. Ayee Chihuahua! Oh yes, that reminds me. Carol and I were actually married in the State of Chihuahua, City of Chihuahua, Mexico. That too is another story to be told over a nice big Margarita. It’s a doozy.

Life is good. Eagle River is great. Come on up for a vacation at our Last Resort.


John, Carol, Katie, Lizzie, Babe the dog in heaven, and our most peculiar dog, Scout.

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