From the miscellaneous drawer - The charm of Burntside Lake

by Anne Swenson

VISITING AT SANDEMAR in July, 1946 were dignitaries and friends of Otto Swanson. Shown are, l-r: Lawrence Smith, Tony Struna?, John Buccowich, Matty Kapsch, Swedish Ambassador (Erik Boheman?), Otto Swanson and Minnesota Governor Luther Youngdahl. Photo courtesy of Larry Smith

Larry Smith and his wife stopped me last week as I was shopping in Zup’s grocery store and reminded me that years ago Larry had shared a photo of his dad Lawrence at Sandemar.
Not all Burntside locations were prestigious or grand. Some were little more than sheds. Sig Olson’s place was said to have been a chicken coop before being moved to Listening Point.
Lawrence Smith had purchased a small place on the south shore of Burntside Lake long ago which the Smith family still has. Lawrence was a school superintendent in Shipley, Iowa and later owned motels in the Iowa City area in the 1950s.
When in Ely, a group of men played Gin Rummy every Sunday at Sandemar as guests of Otto Swanson.
Sandemar, built in 1939 with logs brought in from British Columbia, was the main lodge on the estate originally built and owned by Otto Swanson who had a Nebraska department store. He was the grandfather of Brad Ashford.
Burntside Lake was gaining in status and popularity in the 1940s and ’50s, largely due to Burntside Lodge being established by 1914.
The lake became a popular and trendy place largely because Ely business owners and others chose the lake for their summer getaways.
Burntside Lodge was purchased by Ray and Nancy LaMontagne in 1941. Current owners are Lou (LaMontagnes’ son) and his wife Lonnie, along with their adult children, Nicole and Jacques. The resort has just been named a “Century Resort” by the Minnesota Resort & Campground Association, a designation to recognize resorts that have been in continuous operation for at least 100 years.
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In the Ely Echo newspaper of August 17, 1977, forty years ago, the headlines were:
• Reserve striker: “It could be a long one;”
• St. Cloud wins Legion title;
• Miners Lake wins name contest
• Rep. Donald Fraser offers BWCA Bill changes;
• DM&IR train engine slips off tracks in Ely.