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Deer Lake History
This page will be devoted to the History of Deer Lake. This is your history too! So please help us populate this page with your best old photographs, postcards and narratives. Send your historical materials to the Webmaster for scanning into digital format.
It seems only appropriate to begin with a link to the very first
Thorpe Avenue History
Here is an historical brochure advertizing the sale of lots on Deer Lake by the Thorpe Brothers Land Company
Side One (you will need to flip the pdf)
Side Two (so many lots to choose from)
Be patient:the files take a long time to download!
Lakeshore development has certianly increased over the years from the times of only a mud road over from Deer River to the Deer-Moose isthmus area. Reports from 1940 finds only 2 resorts and 25 cabins. Post WWII, these numbers increase to 3 resorts, 2 youth-camps and 52 cabins. By 1976 there were 6 resorts and 254 cabins and fulltime homes. A few years later, in 1984, Deer Lake was home to 7 resorts (with 55 cabins) and 306 residential cabins and homes. A count in 1995 finds nearly 500 lake-side homes and cabins, and many more scattered within the watershed. (These numbers may not be entirely reliable, nor current) The membership logs for the Deer Lake Association have remained between 225-250 in recent years.
Below you will find many historical postcards that depict Deer Lake. Additional historical materials can be found further down the page.
Itasca County Aerial Mapping Photos from 1939, 1947 and 1959 found near bottom of this page;
scroll down slowly and enjoy!
Deer-Moose Lakes Postcard from the 1950s (submitted by Bob Linner)
Pretty View Lookout on Co Rd 62 (Postcard from early 50s)
Robin Baker, of neighboring Bass Lake, has shared the Deer Lake entries among his old post-card collection. These are truly some classic views of years gone by (1940's and early 50's) on Deer Lake. Thank You Robin!!
As an historical postcard enthusiast, Robin is interested in buying, selling and trading cards. Contact him at:
Photo Postcards courtesy of Robin Baker
Here is a history of Deer Lake as told by Henry Voigt in 1964.
Henry O. Voigt: History of Deer Lake
click this link
The compilation of the stories and pictures found in this book was a Labor of Love that occupied Cy in his last years. He circled the lake seeking the Deer Lake history of everyone he could find. The book was published posthumously in 2000, and can be found for sale at the Village Bookstore in Grand Rapids, or directly from Barbara DeCoster.
From Bob Linner:
Our cabin, which my uncle George Herreid built around 1908, may possibly have been one of the first on the lake. I found the attached picture postcard from 1910 (I scanned the front and back) where an outing with some teachers was photographed. You can see the Radeen farm across the bay. My family has a one hundred year history at the lake and I will gladly send more pictures if you would like.
Herreid's Store in Deer River, with moose that crashed in and drew a crowd (postcard from 1912)
The road to Deer Lake from Deer River (1920s?)
My Grandmother, Ella Hawkins, of Culbertson, Montana, had a sister Bessie Herried who lived in North Branch, MN. I visited her in the mid 60's, and she was in her 70's I believe. This is a Post Card she sent to my Grandmother. It is a 3 cent post card sent sometime in the 50's.
Dwight & Karen Alexander
East Deer Lake Road
The Pretty View from the Deer Lake Look-out on Co. Rd. 62 goes all the way across the length of Deer Lake, from north east to south west.
The postcards in this historical series show a view of Christmas Point in the first foreground (blocked in later photos by an insistent Norway pine); Christmas Point is the first of the three alternating points that make this view famous. The second point, clearly seen in all the pictures is the narrow peninsula extending from the Deer Path area toward the straits of Bear Island. The third point in the distance is Battleship Island.
The first picture below has a postmark of 1942, and was obviously taken just a few years before the one right after, which dates it to the early 50's. In the next one, from the 1980's, you can almost make out Christmas Point (more elevation might have shown it clearly) because the Norway is gone. The following photo shows the bench that was installed in the 1990's, with a birch sapling. Today (2000's picture) the Pretty View has become rather overgrown, but the County Park department has plans to improve the view.
The last photograph was taken at dawn in the Fall of 2006 by your webmaster who was standing on top of a 10-foot ladder placed on the roof of his pickup (perhaps a 20 foot elevation off the ground). If you look carefully you will see a bald eagle flying above the lake--a lucky shot if ever there was one! But even that high off the road, Christmas Point is completely obscured by trees further down the hill; only the red pine tree-tops can be seen.
Postmarked 1942 (postcard from Robin Baker)
Next, we have a series of aerial photographs courtesy of the Itasca County mapping department. Note the section lines drawn on the pictures. You can also follow the development patterns (roads, structures, etc) between the flights done in 1939, 1947 and 1959.
Some historical fish-pictures
Laura DeChaine writes: "I wanted to share these old photos with you. "Laura and the Boys" was taken in 1963--in the photo is my dad, 2 brothers, cousin, uncle, and me. Quite the catch of walleyes...huh!! In the photo "Cabin-Tom" is my grandfather Tom Frid who built the cabin in 1952--another nice string!!"
Photos from Laura DeChaine
Postcard from 60's
The back of the card says: "Groceries, beer, soft drinks, souvenirs, bait, fishing tackle. We freeze and pack fish. Boats, motors and water skis for rent. On the narrows between Deer and Moose Lakes. Lakes of changing colors. Excellent bathing beach and water sports. Recreation for children and the finest fishing. 8 modern cabins with Simmons mattresses. Phone: 14-F44. Charlie and Elise Voigt, owners; Felix and Ethel Ikola, managers".
Back of the card says: VOIGHT'S RESORT [sic]
On the narrows between beautiful Deer and Moose lakes. Muskies, bass, wall-eyed pike and northern, sunfish, bluegills and crappies. Housekeeping cabins and store in connection. A wonderful place to spend your vacation.
The most recent comprehensive history of Deer Lake (and guide to its residents) is the book:
The Lake of Changing Colors
by Cyrus DeCoster