We are Andy Fisher & Lura Wilson and
we’re very excited to be the new guardians of this unique,
peaceful place in the pines. We love the North Shore in
all its glorious seasons and especially enjoy heading out on
the ski trails when the snow flies.
We make our home about 20 minutes closer to
Lake Superior on Highway 1. It's there that we've enjoyed
our roles as the builders-owners-innkeepers of the
Baptism River Inn B&B since relocating from Minneapolis in
2000. We love people and are looking forward to continuing
in the National Forest Lodge (NFL) tradition as a quiet
wilderness retreat for rejuvenating the mind, body and spirit.
While our B&B is relatively new, this lodge’s history dates back to the 1920’s, when guests would come all the way from Chicago and stay weeks at a time.
Photographs from the early days depict an environment mostly
devoid of trees, as was most of northern Minnesota in those
days. The cabins that are currently in use are readily
identifiable in the old photos. At that time, guests were met at
the train station in Ely and driven down Highway 1 in a Model A.
The owners at that time lived there year-round, although the
lodge operated in the summers only.
It was expected that one would dress up for dinner, and lazy afternoons were whiled away on the screen porch of the old log lodge. A daily trip to the ‘pier’ for a boat ride around Lake Gegoka
was very much a part of the experience. This scenario played
out until World War II changed everything. The war years
were sparse, and the advent of a more mobile society in the
post war years left the NFL in the backwaters.
In the early 1960’s, NFL became ‘Gee-Go-Ka,’ a youth camp which was not terribly successful. Fire then destroyed the historic log lodge, which was replaced by the building in use today.
The property sat dormant until being purchased by Bob Hunger
in 1968. His initial plans were to use it to escort youth
groups to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. In
1972, he moved to Isabella to work for the Forest Service
and attempted to resurrect NFL as a resort business.
About that time, a big upsurge in cross country skiing and the establishment of the Environmental Learning Center at Flathorn Lake proved to be a good combination and for awhile it was like old times at the lodge. The establishment of the Flathorn-Gegoka
Ski Touring Area gave Minnesota its first top notch trail
system, and it was considered the premier ski trail in the
state. But once again, things changed.
As more people discovered cross country skiing, new trail
systems were developed all over Minnesota, and once again
NFL was left to languish in the backwaters.
Mark Wendt and Susan Pratt purchased the lodge in
1995 with the ideal of re-establishing it as the premier
Minnesota cross country ski destination it
was in the 1970’s and 80’s. Their goal was to once again make NFL accessible to those of you who share
a love for the quiet and remote beauty of this place.
They labored lovingly for
thirteen years and succeeded in both enhancing and
preserving the character of this unique destination before passing
the torch to us.
Now it's our turn to carry on what's been shaped by the
passing years and so many others before us. Our commitment
is to continue to preserve and care for this pristine, wild
corner of the planet. We believe the NFL's
accessibility, tall pines, absence of motorized vehicles on trails and
the abundant snowfall will make for an experience you won’t find
in many other places! We invite you to be our guests here soon.
Andy and Lura