Vermilion Dam Lodge - Owners Quick Recover from Storm

Owners quickly recover from storm


Published: Friday, August 23, 2002 3:00 AM CDT

Regional EditorLAKE VERMILION - Trees and branches strewn around the resort grounds, no power and rising water on Wolf Bay, up to the bottom of one of the lower docks might have seemed daunting to some.But Vermilion Dam Lodge partners Ed Tausk and George Wronowski quickly mobilized a bulldozer and chainsaw crew to clear away debris from the July 4 superstorm and grabbed generators to keep power available to guests. Although several did leave right after the storm, the rest stayed, some even booking a reservation for next year.

Dedication to service has been key for the two, who took over the historic lodge in May 1998. Both come from service-oriented backgrounds, Tausk formerly a mechanic and in management with Northwest Airlines and Wronowski with a Chevrolet dealership. The two studied the industry, talked with long-time resort operators and settled on the lodge when it came available.

After closing at summer's end last year, they oversaw renovations to the main lodge that added a new roof, carpeting, heating system, upgraded kitchen and freezers and winterized six cabins for first-time cold-season opening earlier this year.

The results seem to have borne out the partners' marketing approach.

"Today, we've got to find opportunities for revenue,'' Tausk said.

While guests to resorts in the past might not mind if the water didn't work in their rustic cabin, today's families want a wilderness experience along with "the comforts of home,'' he explained.

Cabins range from one to six bedrooms, screened and decked, with dishwashers and microwaves. Many have Jacuzzis and whirlpools. A full-service dock, boat and pontoon rentals, canoes and sailboats, a beach and heated in-ground swimming pool also are offered.

Spring and summer bookings of the lodge's 15 cabins are oriented for families, with the bar and restaurant in the main lodge closed. Fall and winter bookings cater to anglers, hunters, fall color enthusiasts and snowmobilers.

"We allow the snowmobilers access to the property,'' Tausk explained, which gives them an opportunity to view the Vermilion River cascading over the low dam, even in winter. Snowmobilers can continue up the frozen parts of the river toward Crane Lake as well. The lodge aims to be a stopping-off point, with bar and restaurant open, fueling on site, a heated shop for repairs and cabins available.

"We want to become one of the premier resorts of Northeastern Minnesota,'' he said.

They have history working for them as well. The place was the first resort on Lake Vermilion, operated by local author Adelyne Shively Tibbetts' family as Hunter's Lodge in the early part of the century after the site ended as a logging camp. Guests took a steamboat from Tower, then switched to canoes.

Then, as today, wildlife adds to the experience, from occasional moose or bears to more frequent deer, otters, geese and grouse. Bass, walleyes, northerns and muskies are pulled from the Vermilion River and Wolf Bay.

"We love it,'' Wronowski said. "Ed enjoys fishing and being outdoors and I love to hunt.''