When the wind was just right, Charlie Anderson yelled "cuter loose" and a pile of lumber spread out for 1 1/2 miles into Gull Lake from its junction with Round Lake.
With the heavy pieces on the bottom and lighter ones piled on top, the wooded barge was floated and pushed over to Rocky Point.
The lumber was to be used to build a home for Charlie Anderson and his family -- his wife, three sons and a daughter -- at what was to become Gull Lake's first resort.
The property (160 acres) was homesteaded by Charlie Anderson in 1895. Anderson built a small 16 by 24-foot log cabin where the family lived until the new house was built in the winter of 1911 and 1912.
THE FIRST RESORT -- A FEW TENTS At first, Rocky Point Resort had nothing but a few tents plus the family home. From 1912 to 1915, the family built 19 cabins which have now been sold to private individuals. Charles Anderson owned a total of 10 miles of shoreline including the 12-acre Sandy Point which he sold in about 1903 for $25 to the Schumacher family.
FISHING FASHIONS -- This is what the girls were wearing in the early I9OOs when they went fishing on Gull Lake. Left to right, Mrs. Ben Woods, Mrs. Edward Costello, Mable Anderson and Hannah Anderson at Rocky Point.
Anderson, originally from Sweden, brought the family to Rocky Point the same year he homesteaded Rocky Point, 1895, and made his living by fishing. The tents were the first means of housing after the main lodge was built.
FISH WERE FIRST In the fishing business, walleyes were sold to Duluth distributors for three cents a pound. "Dad rowed barrels of fish across the lake where they were picked up by waiting wagons and taken to the Nisswa or Lake Hubert railroad stations, said Art Anderson Charlie's son and owner of the Rendezvous Supper Club on the west end of Gull Lake.
With the money he made from selling 1,800 pounds of whitefish, Charlie bought a horse. "In those days, to buy a horse was really something," said Art. To store the fish and to keep the family's provisions, 400 or 500 tons of natural lake ice was cut and stored in saw dust for summer use, said Art. Ice was sawed with heavy, long-toothed saws. Every stroke of the saw cut an inch of ice. One cake of ice weighted about 400 pounds and Art says the family put up about 1,000 cakes each winter.
And natural ice from Gull Lake was used up until about 1950, said Art.
This was the lodge at Velvet Beach, one of the early resorts in this area. The lodge burned down several years ago and Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Hart, present owners, have converted the resort into a trailer camp.
He remembers picking blueberries for the Ruttgers' Bay Lake Resort near Deerwood when he was seven years old. At that time, the Andersons had moved over to Portage Lake where Charles Anderson worked for the State Game and Fish Department at a fish rearing pond.
It was at that time that his father decided to start Rocky Point.
It all started when two young railroad boys on a transient-type fishing vacation got off the trail at Deerwood, hiked out to Portage Lake and stayed with the Andersons who were then living there. The boys took a train to Nisswa, borrowed a boat and fished the east side of Gull across to Rocky Point, catching walleyes all the way.
"They came back to our place with stories of the marvelous fishing at Rocky Point and talked Dad into going into the fishing and resort business," said Art.
ROCKY POINT, 1920s--At left is one of the log cabins built in 1911 and 1912 by Charles Anderson and Gust Olmquist to replace tents. Standing is Anderson's son, Erv. On the ground is Earl Swartz who ran a dry goods store in Nisswa.
So, Charlie convinced Gus Olmquist, who was tending bar in Deerwood at the time, into forming a partnership, moved his family back to Rocky Point and went into business.
"In the winter time, Dad and Gus built boats in the dining room of our home at Rocky Point," said Art. He said the same boats were on the lake for over 20 years and that the resort was sold to John Story in 1945.
CABINS AND RESORTS APPEAR It wasn't until after World War I that cabins and resorts really started to build up on Gull Lake, said Art. "I'll wager that at least 75 percent were built around or after 1920," he said.
The only cabin on the west side of Gull between Rocky Point and Wilsons Bay when the logs were floated out for the Anderson home, was one on Wilsons Bay owned by the VanSickles. Also, on the west side between Anderson and the north end of Gull Lake was a cottage owned by the Cobin family, but "that was all on the west side of the lake," said Art.
Erv Anderson and a friend after a successful duck hunt in the 1920s.. Signs in background advertise Fnwcett's Breezy Point, Pine Grove on Cullen Lake and Grand View lodge.
Across the lake on the east side, there were the "Section 10ers" who made their living fishing. The Section 10ers lived between Gull and Love lakes.
EARLY LIFE ON GULL To get food and other necessities, Charlie Anderson rode with a horse team or walked down the lakeshore to the VanSickle place once a month and the two men traveled together around the south end of Gull Lake and on into Brainerd.
When the water level was right, they could row two miles across the lake to Squaw Point along a shallow sand bar. From there, it was ten miles in to Brainerd.
"Dad often walked into Brainerd," said Art. There were times when he walked the lakeshore beaches from Wilson Bay loaded down with gunny sacks of provisions when the lake was so rough he couldn't row the shorter route straight across from Squaw Point.
At times like this, Art and his brothers would put out a lantern and wait for their father to pick his way toward the light. "He'd always give us a piece of candy for waiting for him," said Art.
In the winter months, travel into town was much easier and Anderson rode in a horse-drawn sleigh two miles across the lake then into Brainerd. Winter travel was pretty easy, said Art, unless the snow was too deep for the horses to maneuver.
The only other route to Brainerd then was a 35-mile excursion into Pequot around Upper Gull. There were no bridges at that time, and crossing Stoney Brook or Holm Brook and you had to rely "on the grapevine" to know if the water was low enough to get across.
But fording the creeks by horse and buggy was still a lot easier than "fording" in old Fords that began appearing around 1913.
After the Gull Lake dam was built in 1910, the water level was raised and stabilized, so travel by the shortcut across Gull Lake to Brainerd no longer was possible. Before that time, said Art, the levels were controlled by natural fluctuations from rainfall or snow melt.
A LOGGING SPUR From Stoney Brook there was a logging spur from the railroad's main line to Lake Hubert that crossed at what is now Bar Harbor and went on up into the Leader area. Timber was shipped from the spur to Hubert and taken on into Minneapolis or Duluth. Or, said Art, it was boomed out of Gull out of Gull Lake into the Gull River and into the Mississippi.
The materials used to make the present bridge across from what is now the Colony Inn (until 1970, the place was Deauville) to Bar Harbor. "Dad pulled the logs out in 1920. These pilings were about 65 feet long," said Art. (The road was built in 1921 or 1922).
OTHER EARLY RESORTS About the same time as Rocky Point Resort went into operation, in 1912, another resort had its beginning. It was the Ozonite Resort on the north end of Gull Lake started by a Dr. Bemis who first built a home then later began to build guests cabins. The next resort to appear on the north side was Grand View Lodge, originally owned by M. V. Baker from Minneapolis in 1918 which started with a lodge and a few cabins.
"Grand View was considered to be quite a thing, as it was bigger than anything else on the lake," said Art. (Gus Olmquist built Pine Harbor near the Deliwood Resort in about 1925.)
Resort hotels didn't start to appear until after World War I and one of the first was the Bane place between Round and Gull lakes near the Interlachen Resort. The Bane place was an early stopping place for those traveling north out of Brainerd. Another early resort-hotel was the Gull Lake Resort Hotel near Squaw Point, mainly for Brainerd people who came to camp, fish and picnic.
THE MAIL RUN To get the mail in the early days at Rocky Point, the Anderson brothers rode or walked the two-mile route from the family home to the Gilpatrick post office run by John Whiteberg where the mail was dropped off via a horse and buggy trip from Pequot. (Gilpatrick is now known as Lake Margaret.)
The mail was delivered to the post office three times a week. In about 1923 or 1924, bids went out for a mail route by boat and the Anderson brothers ran the service until about 1930. They also hauled passengers to local resorts. But the earliest delivery service was Stewart Mills' service out of Nisswa in about 1914.
IT WAS THE THING TO DO "A lot of people think times were tough then, but always the first to have any new more modern conveniences that came along. We had the first electric light on Gull Lake and had our own light power plant in 1918.
"Dad was president of a group of men who put in the first telephone lines. Our line was sold to Bell Telephone Co. in 1935," said Art.
Charles Anderson died in 1931. Art's younger brother Erv, built and operated Bar Harbor until his death in 1964; the eldest brother Herb lives on Rocky Point and their sister, Mabel, moved to Gull Lake from California in 1970 and now stays with Art and Myrt Anderson.
Reproduced from the Centennial Edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1871-1971).