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Vermilion Dam Lodge History

Before 7000 B.C. (Before Crappies)

Historians tell us people called the Lake Vermilion area home, with proof found dating well before this time.
European explorers enter the region and begin trade relations with the inhabitants of the area.

After the American Revolutionary War, the U.S. claims the area from Great Britain.

1783 to 1789


The Land Ordinance of 1785 creates the Public Land Survey System. The Northwest Ordinance of 1789 created the method of land organization used to parcel land obtained from the 1783 Treaty of Paris. The area around Vermilion Dam Lodge falls in Section 11, Township 63 North, Range 17 West. 

April 24, 1820

Congress passes “An Act making further provision for the sale of the Public Lands” places the 137.25 acres (Township 63N, Range 17W, Sections 2-Lot 9, 3-SE ¼-SE 1/4 and 11-Lot 3)  that make up the area of Vermilion Dam available for sale. 

Land Ordinance of 1820

August 9, 1842

1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty

Webster-Ashburton Treaty resolves border issues with Great Britain, including Minnesota-Canada border from Lake Superior to Lake of the Woods. If not for this agreement, people around these parts would be speaking English today! The official language of the Lake Vermilion region is Minnesotan. If you need an interpreter, just ask at the Lodge.

November, 1865

The Vermilion Falls Gold Mining Company forms; one of the many locations at which they started shafts is near Vermilion Dam. It’s on private property now- so DON'T go searching. Mining is also attempted on Gold Island and many other places around Vermilion. Areas north have a more significant gold find and the rush was on to Rainy and Crane Lakes through the Vermilion Dam stagecoach run and the dam became a “Stopping Place” on the way to Crane Lake. This is the beginning of lodging in the area. However, no serious amount of gold is ever mined and the prospectors were mostly gone by 1867.

1865 Vermilion Gold Rush Plaque


1891 VDL Land Purchase Receipt

December 21
Adam Pekoski is the first person to homestead the area known as Vermilion Dam. He purchases 137.25 acres from the United States Government for $175.

July 1892

Pekoski sells the land (63N,17W,See.3,SE ¼-SE ¼ and Sec.11,Lot 3) to Magnus Dahlston and Charles McElroy. He received $1.00 and 350 shares in the Briar Hill Iron and Coal Company of Youngstown, Ohio. In that same year, Mr. Dahlston and Mr. McElroy sold it to Briar Hill.

April 1893

Briar Hill sells the land in the 1892 purchase back to Pekoski! The land is sold more than ten times for prices ranging from $1.00 to $500 up until 1897.

October 15, 1894

Another “gold strike” is found in the Seine River area, 100 miles NW of Vermilion Dam and a mini rush is on again, with the dam again becoming a popular “Stopping Place”.
Pekoski recognizes the importance of Vermilion Dam as as a half-way stop on the route to perceived gold strike areas and constructs a building to house a general store, hot meal service, livery stable and some lodging.



April 27, 1895

1895 Steamer Minnie

The steamer Minnie made the trip to Vermilion Dam and began regularly scheduled service.  The steamer’s owners tout, “The trip from Tower to Fort Francis can be made in three days via Vermilion Dam. Considerable travel traffic is assured, as the Rainy Lake and Seine River country will have a gold boom such as has not been experienced since the ‘49er days in California.”


June 1
An excursion from Tower to Vermilion Dam aboard the steamer Libbie departs at 9 a.m and arrives at 12 noon.

June 9
A barn and corral for livestock is completed at Vermilion Dam, built by & for the Howe Lumber Company. 
July 31 >
The property upon which the “Stopping Place” at Vermilion dam is situated, which was originally owned by Adam Pekoski and lately the property of J. Tibbets and C. McNamara, has been acquired by the Howe Lumber Company which will conduct extensive logging operations in that vicinity in the future.

November 20 >
The Howe Lumber Company’s tugboat, City of Holland made her last trip to and from the company camp at Vermilion Dam and at her dock in Tower was hoisted out of the water to be blocked up for the winter. Horse teams will be used after ice-up to haul timber to Tower.

December 18 >

A large sleigh party departs on this day for Howe Lumber Company’s Vermilion Dam camp. The sleighers will stage a surprise party for camp foreman Julian Howard who has resigned effective January 1.

Log cabin by the river.
1897 Steamer City of Holland
1898 Snow sleigh team


1898 Tower Stagecoach to VDL.
Horse-drawn mail delivery wagon

< May 14
Captain S.H. Gheen announced in Tower that a stagecoach will depart daily from Vermilion Dam to the gold fields at Rainy Lake and the Seine region until further notice.
May 21
The first mention of a hotel rather than a “Stopping Place” at Vermilion Dam was noted in the Duluth Herald as Ernest Armstrong,  “manager of the hosteiry at the Vermilion Dam” was in Duluth purchasing supplies for the establishment.
June 4
The Howe Lumber Company has retained more than 100 men to finish the drive of 3 million board feet of lumber from Vermilion Dam to Tower by water.

August 31
The Tower Logging Company announces it will build a road from Vermilion Dam to Crane lake following the “rut road” the stagecoach line currently uses. This road eventually becomes Cnty Rd 422/Crane Lk Rd 24.

October 1
Vermilion Dam is made the polling place for Township 63, Range 17.

October 8
The Howe Lumber Company mill closes for the season after shipping more than 35 million board feet of lumber.

< December 3
Stagecoach mail delivery from Tower begins its first run from the Vermilion Hotel in Tower to Vermilion Dam, Rainy Lake City, Mine Center and Koochiching. The stage leaves Tower every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7a.m.—returning Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. M.H. Peck is named the mail carrier and manager of the Vermilion Dam “Hosteiry”.


June 25
Victor Fecto (Of Fecto's Point Fame) announces the completion of an overhaul of his large boat and will be making daily trips to Vermilion Dam from Tower.

July 3 >
Minnesota Governor Lind dispatches 40 Minnesota soldiers to Vermilion Dam where they are to proceed to Koochiching with orders to stop Ojibwe men that had crossed into Minnesota from Canada from staging an  “Uprising”. The Ojibwe were upset because settlers in the country have refused to sell them liquor. It took seven days for the troops to reach the site of the trouble- by which time the border crossers had given up their liquor quest  and returned to Canada.

1900 Minnesota militia


1901 Steamer Oddfellow.

March 16
The mine shaft begun about ½ mile NW of Vermilion Dam in 1865, is found insufficient to pay for working the dig—as the gold is suspended in copper and all efforts are abandoned.

< November 8
The steamer Oddfellow nearly sunk after running aground near Gold Island en-route to Vermilion Dam. The ship was too close to shore and impacted a rock outcropping that shifted the boiler toward the stern, breaking several steam pipes. Passengers were unharmed as they were in the bow, protected by their cabin walls. The vessel was towed back to Tower for repairs.

November 16
Hans W. Peterson takes over the Vermilion Dam “Hosteiry” and M.H. Peck moved to Tower.

May 16
M.H. Peck returns as manager of the Vermilion Dam “Stopping Place” as H.W. Peterson departs.

May 23 >
Tower citizens arranged for a group of about 20 “young folks” to take a boat excursion to Vermilion Dam for boating, fishing, games and a luncheon—beginning a tradition of steamer travel for regular “Outings” at the Dam.

November 28
A group of hunters that were camping at Echo Lake made the “Stopping Place” at Vermilion Dam their headquarters. The men took several moose and deer on their trip.

1902 Steamer unloading at Vermilion Dam


1903 June 5 Tower News Steamer Olive Ad

May 15
Benjamin Everett purchases several of  buildings at Vermilion Dam abandoned by the Howe Lumber company.
Captain James McLaren sets course for Vermilion Dam  using his launch, Comet to host his first chartered fishing trip.

June 5
The first print advertisement appears in the Tower Weekly News for the Steamer Olive and Master Adolph Fredrickson—"now making regular trips to all points on Lake Vermilion touching at Vermilion Dam and Head of the Lake daily.”


The steamer Olive announces that daily service to “Head O Lakes” will be decreased to Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Daily trips to Vermilion Dam will continue.

June 30, 1905

St. Louis County Commissioners Neil McInnis, E.M. Patterson and John Sundeen made a trip to Vermilion Dam and Head O Lakes to “take a peek” at county roads. The party just happened to bring back “a nice string of Wall-eyed Pike as a result of the trip”.

1906 Road Inspection

June 22, 1906

January 16
Clarence Everett’s sister Addie marries Loyd R. Shively (A.K.A. “Lloyd”)

< January 18
27-Yr-Old Clarence Everett (son of Ben and recently returned from a stretch in the U.S. Navy) & J. Anderson announce the opening of the first resort on Lake Vermilion, "Hunters Lodge" in the Tower News and Duluth Herald, advertising weekly.  

April 14
Bert C. Everett (Clarence’s Dad) starts selling ice at Vermilion Dam. On a trip to Tower, he announces in the Tower News that he is building several summer cottages with Clarence to be rented to tourists.

< June 7
In Tower, Clarence Everett exhibits “a monster muscallonge” that had been caught by his son Albert. The Duluth Herald claimed at 42 pounds, it was “probably the largest fish ever taken from Lake Vermilion”. The paper reported it was caught with an ordinary trolling hook but had to be shot before being landed.

< August 25
Roy J. Hill sponsors a huge event at Hunters Lodge, engaging the steamboats Mary Bell and Olive plus a passenger barge to take paying guests to Vermilion Dam for “Fishing, Dining, Dancing, Refreshments and Dinner”. Gentleman’s Tickets $1.50, Ladies’ 50 cents! Price includes boat fare.

< Sept 1
Albert Everett acquires and begins operation of the gas powered launch MAE  for hire through the Sheridan Hotel in Tower.

October 6
The Smith-Alger Company buys the interests of the Tower Lumber Company, which had absorbed the assets of the Howe Lumber Company and has been operating at Vermilion Dam.

November 17
The M.H. Peck sells the family farm at Crane Lake portage to B.C. Everett, father of Clarence. The Everetts will now operate both the Vermilion Dam and Crane Lake “Stopping Places”.

1907 January 18 Tower News Hunters Lodge 1st Announced
1907 October 16 Hunters Ad Duluth Herald
1907 June 11 Tower News Musky shot
1907 Albert Everett MAE
1907 Steamer Mary Bell
1907 August 23 Big Excursion Tower News
1907 September 29 Vermilion feature Duluth Herald 1

1907 - The Resort Is Born

February 28
B.C. Everett completes a new family home on the Portage route at Vermilion Dam.

April 3 >
Mr. Anderson’s name no longer appears in advertising for Hunters’ Lodge.

April 4
The Buyck Board of Supervisors brings a suit against Charles Buyck for misappropriation of funds in the amount of $33,000. It is noted that Buyck owes debts to Hunters Lodge in the suit.

May 16
The first reported boat race was held for a purse of $25 between launch boats owned by M.C. Woodard and James Body. They took off from Gold Island with Vermilion Dam as the finish line six miles away. An estimated crowd of more than 100 people lined the route at Oak Narrows and at Vermilion Dam. Body ruled the day and was ahead by more than a mile at the finish. The racers and other launches returned to the club on Gold Island where 25 people celebrated with music, dance and food. On that return trip, Mr. Body’s wheel was damaged, and Mr. Woodard needed to tow the winner back to Gold, much to the delight of the onlookers.


1908 April 3 Tower News No more Anderson


April 10
The Howe Lumber Company, operating since 1897 at Vermilion Dam is bankrupt and dissolves.
May 25 >
50,000 board feet of logs were destroyed by fire at Vermilion Dam. The lumber was owned by Vermilion Lumber.

1909 Tower Lumber Fire



a teamster hauling a load from Tower to DeCagney's tried to pass through Oak Narrows on the ice, rather than on the road alongside the narrows. He and his load went through the ice, so somewhere down there are hundreds of bottles of Canadian beer.

April 29
Howe Lumber Company, dissolved in 1909 by stockholders, sold its real estate holdings through its receiver Frank E. Woodard to Graff Mineral Company of Duluth for $30,887.77. The property contains the 137 acres of Vermilion Dam area.
July 31
Clarence Everett makes a purchase agreement with Graff Mineral to work the land and own buildings at Vermilion Dam. Mineral rights are retained by Graff. Everett constructs 4 new cottages as business has increased markedly, requiring more lodging. 

Hunters Lodge guest with partridge


1912 May 10 Tower News New Hunters Ad
1912 May 17 Tower News Erma D ad
1912 Daily Steamer Olive trips announcement


February 12
Camiel DeCaigney and the Vermilion Lake Navigation company have purchased Government Patrol Boat No. 3, a buoy tender used in the Duluth harbor. The craft is 48ft long with an 8.5ft beam. Equiped with a 40HP motor, the vessel is capable of making 12 m.p.h. She'll be named ErmaD, after the owner's daughter. 
May 3
Camiel DeCaigney and the Vermilion Lake Navigation company (owners of the steamer Erm
aD) have purchased 40 acres at Vermilion Dam and it will be prepared for tourists this season. (This is the point on the west side of Wolf Bay known as DeCaigney's Point where Camile and his wife Emma operated a steamboat landing.) 
DeCaigney operates 
 the HalfWay House in Buyck, a both  a bar and a brothel now known as the Vermilion River Tavern. DeCaigney also operates a “Stopping Place” at Crane Lake.
May 10 >
C.M. Everett lists ads local papers in the area as “Hunters Lodge” and posts rates in a newly designed ad. $2 per day/ $10 per week.

May 11 >
The Vermilion Lake Navigation company of Tower launches a new passenger steamer, the Erma D. A large crowd gathered to watch the boat’s departure for Vermilion Dam. The 52-ft vessel will offer daily trips to all points on the lake. (The ErmaD was known to haul bootleg whiskey and other freight from Tower to the landing, from there it was hauled on the cord road to the Halfway House saloon at Buyck.)
May 17 >
The Osterberg Boat Line announces the Olive has begun daily trips to Vermilion Dam, departing at 8 a.m. The Sunday return trip from the Dam will arrive in Tower in time for the 5:45 train to Duluth..
May 25
The steamer Erma D struck a deadhead and broke its propeller, disabling the boat near Gold Island. The Vermilion Lumber company’s steamer Odd Fellow heard the distress horn from the Erma D and hurried to her aid. The Vermilion Navigation company says the steamer was near capacity, but that no one was injured in the mishap. The Odd Fellow towed the injured steamer back to Tower for repairs.
June 9
The Erma D was returning from an outing at Vermilion Dam with a large group of the local chapter of the Eagles. A large fire was spotted on Silver Island by Johnny Graham, District Forest Ranger who was on board. Graham enlisted the group as fire fighters and after 3 hours the blaze was under control. A crew of volunteers stayed and monitored the island all night. Local legend claims that the fire was extinguished with lake water transported in recently emptied beverage containers
July 5
Vermilion Lake Navigation company’s Camiel DeCaigny, who operates a few cottages at Vermilion Dam, has purchased and operates the first automobile on the north side of Vermilion. He offers freight and passenger services to his “Stopping Place” at Crane Lake

September 6
The Vermilion Lake Navigation company announces it will build a 15-bedroom hotel- surrounded by a screened veranda, three additional guest cottages, dance pavilion, warehouse and icehouse. A new, large scow will also be built for use at the new “Stopping Place”. The company’s already burgeoning passenger and freight traffic business has prompted the expansion. The company is composed of President Camiel DeCaigny, Vice President Ed Hedlund and Treasurer John B. Fredrickson. The hotel would have occupied the space now known as Wolf Bay. 

December 30
The owners of the Iron Range Electric Railway have sent surveyors to Vermilion Dam. It is rumored that the company wants to build a hydroelectric dam on the site and construct a pulp and paper mill on the east side of the Vermilion River. The flowage is found insufficient for this purpose.

1913 - An Untimely Passing

April 12
C.M. Everett is in Tower and provides a lake ice status update—condition is very poor with no travel recommended. He also noted that he has taken many reservations for the season and has notified the steamboat companies to expect a heavy trade.
April 17 
C. M. Everett was admitted to Soudan Hospital late in the day with suspected appendicitis. His condition is serious. It took his brother Bert (Elbert) and neighbors on skates 8 hours to transport Mr. Everett 18 miles by toboggan, having to avoid much bad ice. Ice conditions were not suited for horse team travel.

April 24 
Thirty-three-year-old Clarence M. Everett passes away from gangrenous appendicitis at 3:30 p.m. . His sister Nettie passed away exactly two years earlier from the exact same affliction.

May 1
Bert (Elbert) Everett, brother of Clarence, opens Hunters Lodge for the season with the understanding that Loyd Shively and his wife, sister of Elbert and Clarence, Addie (Everett) Shively will soon arrive to begin management of the “Stopping Place”.
May 14
Clarence M. Everett’s sister, Mrs. Addie Shively arrives and Vermilion Dam with her children where they will make their home. Mr. Loyd Shively will arrive in June to partner in management of Hunters Lodge.

June 4
The Tower Commercial Club adopts a resolution requesting St. Louis County place screens in the water at Vermilion Dam to prevent the fish from escaping the lake down the Vermilion River.
June 20
Loyd Shively arrives at Vermilion Dam to take possession of Hunters Lodge and begins construction of screen porches on all cabins and the main hotel. Also, an ad for a “dock chore boy” with promise of wages at $20/month plus tips in running in the local papers.
Shively displays a large Musky in the photo on the right, taken near the dam- dispelling the myth that Muskies were not native to Lake Vermilion.

Construction begins on a one-room schoolhouse for Vermilion Dam township, two miles NW of Hunters Lodge. The building will have a stone foundation with a wood frame. Construction completed mid November 1913 and the first classes were held after Thanksgiving.

December 6
The steamer Erma D stuck hard ice returning from Vermilion Dam and began to take on water. The vessel made it back to Tower and sank in her slip. She was put up the next day for repairs.

December 13
Mrs. Loyd (Addie) Shively travels the 20 miles from Tower to Hunters Lodge at Vermilion Dam on skates, pushing her two young daughters in a hand sled.

Clarence Everett business card

March 1913 photo showing NO dam, just rapids, as stone dams were typically destroyed each fall after log transport via water was completed for the year.

Rock dam
Lloyd Shively with Musky
Steamer Erma D at Goodwills
1914 June 26 Hunters at Vermilion Falls
1914 July 11a Duluth Herald An Hours Catch at Hunters Lodge
1914 October 29 Duluth Herald

March 5
Finding it impossible to skate to Tower due to deep snow, Mrs. Loyd (Addie) Shively snowshoed 18 miles to Tower to take the March 6th train to Duluth on a business trip.
June 5
The Trout Lake Lumber Company raises the temporary wood & stone dam at Vermilion Dam 18 inches. Ole P. Gruben’s property is damaged, and he wins $550 in a lawsuit against the lumber company. Other property owners whose land is flooded also sue for and win damages. The dam is “Shot Out” with explosives at the end of the logging season and the lake level lowers.
June 12
Carl Thiel, owner of the Northwest Film Company from Hibbing MN, proposes that the Tower Commercial Club commission him to make several films of the Tower area, Vermilion Dam and Lake Vermilion for distribution to theatre circuits throughout the country to promote tourism, noting that “seeing is believing—a film of this kind would do better for the region than all of the literature that has ever been sent out to date.”

June 20
Yet another boat and excursion company, the Vermilion Boat & Outing Company is offering regular trips to Hunters Lodge from Tower aboard their steamer Sally.
June 26
In the Tower Weekly News and the Duluth Herald, the ad on the left appeared noting the location of Hunter's Lodge as "Vermilion Falls". It can be speculated that Mr. Shively was trying to de-emphasize "Dam", since there was no Dam at Vermilion Dam in 1914...
July 11

September 4
The Tower Weekly News calls for Tower and Lake Vermilion residents to join with the Commercial Club and demand that a permanent dam be placed at Vermilion Dam. The paper notes that navigation at times is extremely dangerous to all boats on the lake. It argues that a consistent lake level would be an economic benefit for the entire region.
November 27
Loyd Shively skates the 18 miles from Hunters Lodge to Tower and reports that unusually low snowfall and extremely cold weather have limited the hunting traffic at his lodge this fall.
December 4
Mr. & Mrs. Loyd Shively and family skated from Hunters Lodge to Tower for the day and report glass-like ice for the entire route.


January 15
Loyd Shively begins construction of another large bungalow for tourists. He also has continued to add porches and screening to all cabins. He reports the government weather service that the lake has lowered ½ a foot since January 1.
February 5
President of the Lake Vermilion Navigation Company, Camile DeCaigney is arrested along with 5 others for operating a bootlegging operation that provided liquor at DeCaigney’s “Stopping Place”s at Vermilion Dam and Crane Lake.
The Tower Commercial Club, Tower and Vermilion Dam residents are calling for a phone wire to be installed from Tower to Vermilion Dam and points along the way.  The telephone line won't arrive at Vermilion Dam until after 1920.
March 5
The Commercial Club has enlisted the Duluth & Iron Range railway and the Forest Service in its plea for phone service to the Vermilion Dam area.
The Commercial Club also engaged the County Commissioners in discussing of a concrete dam at Vermilion Dam.

June 11
The St. Louis County Commission has ordered the construction of a cement, low rise dam at Vermilion Dam. The commission will open bids for the structure July 6th.
September 17
Work on the concrete low head dam at Vermilion Dam has been called off due to the many protests registered and threats of lawsuits.
October 8
The County Commission and Commercial Club meets one-by-one with protestors of the low-head dam at Vermilion Dam, trying to smooth over the complaints so construction can resume.
Also, Loyd Shively and Camile DeCaigney are accepted as members of the Tower Commercial Club.

November 12
Addie Shively is reportedly the only woman in the state to have purchased a big-game hunting license.

Vintage Ad for Vermilion Lodge
1915 August 28 Hunters Lodge Vermilion Falls
1915 August 7 Duluth Herald 1
Vintage Ad for Vermilion Lodge


 Addie Shively on the footbridge over the non-dam dam with a healthy bag of game birds.

Addie Shively on the footbridge over the non-dam dam with a healthy bag of game birds.

1916 Vermilion Lodge Duluth Herald

March 31
Loyd Shively notes improvements planned for Vermilion Lodge as he prepares to install a water ram to supply running water from the Vermilion River to his cottages at Hunters Lodge. The "ram" will force water through pipes into a hundred gallon tank that will supply the cabins and his living house.
April 14
The telephone line has been installed to the Isle of Pines and the Goodwill resort and soon will reach Vermilion Dam.
May 5
While in Soudan, Addie Shively announces that henceforth Hunters Lodge will be known as Vermilion Lodge.

July 28
The Tower Weekly News editorializes that the need for a dam at Vermilion Dam is needed now more than ever. The lowest lake levels ever seen may put an end to all navigation and any safe travel on the lake. The area will suffer irreparable economic damage without regulation of water levels. However, construction continued to be stalled.


June 8
A forest fire raged around the northern reaches of Lake Vermilion, encircling Vermilion Lodge. Mr. & Mrs. Shively their family and guests escaped unharmed and volunteer fire fighters back-fired successfully around the resort and saved the property.
June 15
Another fire engulfed the area around Vermilion Lodge and 30 fire-fighters were dispatched from Tower aboard the steamer Olive. While on the way, unexpected heavy rains poured over the area and by the time the group reached the Lodge, the fires were largely under control.
June 19
The Erma D' engine was in for repairs at the Soudan Mine Blacksmith shop when fire engulfed the building. The Erma D's engine and surroundings burned to the waterline. A new engine was secured and the Erma D ran all season.  Sometime in 1917, the boat caught fire in Wolf Bay and was a loss. Today her propeller sits out behind Wolf Bay Lodge (formerly Vermilion Beach Resort)
October 19
A barge being towed to Vermilion Dam, heavily loaded with camp supplies destined for the E.J. Norberg Lumber Camp, sank in 20 feet of water just north of Oak Narrows. The barge and much of its contents was mostly recovered by November 2.


September 28
Vermilion Lodge is filled with fall hunters and fisherman and Loyd Shively tells the Tower Weekly News that the Lodge will be filled through November

Vintage Ad for Vermilion Lodge
Propeller of the Steamer Erma D


Vintage Ad for Vermilion Lodge

Looking upstream at an un-dammed rapids at where Aerie stands today.

March 28
Willis S. Shaft, owner of Shaft-Pierce Shoe Company of Faribault, MN, is building a $20,000 summer home south of Vermilion Dam. Contractors from Duluth, Olson & Gustafson, have just finished a $50,000 cottage near Goodwill’s for the Bement family of Terre Haute, IN. The Shaft cottage will be built of polished cedar logs and will have modern heat, lights and running water. Located 1½ miles south of Vermilion Dam, the place has been dubbed, “Shaftisbury Heights”.
June 20
Loyd Shively reports to the Tower Weekly News that "Wall-eyed Pike" are still biting heavily, but fisherman and tourists are so numerous at Vermilion Lodge that it can be difficult fishing.

The school at Vermilion Dam starts the school year operating independently of the Tower-Soudan district.


Vintage Ad for Vermilion Lodge

The original Lodge on the left on the grounds of where Aerie is today, right next to the dam area.

1920 Vermilion Dam Boathouse

Looking down the hill at where the current VDL Boathouse is today. Shively had purchased the gas launch Comet and has daily runs to Tower.

The Tower-Soudan school district approves up to $1,500 per year operating budget to re-add the Vermilion Dam school.
The Commercial Club and Tower approves $60,000 in dredging funds as the fears of lawsuits from lake property owners if a dam is constructed are too great and the dam plans are abandoned.
Tourist Season
Vermilion Lodge opens the season with nine total dwellings, six of those being log cabins.  Five 1-room cottages, two 2-room cottages, one 3-room cottage and lodge rooms for 16. Rates are $4/day or $20/week. Boat or Canoe is $1/day. Boat fee (Aronson) $1.25. Guide fee $6/day. Open May 20 to December 10. Vacation packages can be arranged with the Duluth & Iron Range railway. “A short, 4-hour rail trip from Duluth to Tower and a 2-hour boat ride will have you on the doorstep of an outstanding adventure.” Round-trip rail ticket is $2.00
April 1
Vermilion Lodge is established as a Post Office for Vermilion Dam Township. Loyd Shively was appointed postmaster- this is important information for developments in 1925. Shively makes three trips a week to Buyck to retrieve and deliver mail.

A petition has been circulated by Tower Postmaster Helm to all region Postmasters and lake residents to request a regular, daily mail route be established for the lake and its residents. The petition is sent to the Postmaster General in Washington.
“Amusement structures” have been added to the school yard at Vermilion Dam. The schoolmaster reports 96% attendance.



Map of new Highway 24

St. Louis County begins surveying a road from Fernlund’s Landing at the head of the lake to Vermilion Dam. The route is north from the landing and will run on the east side of Grassy and Elbow lakes. The road will have less grade, will avoid the Black River crossing and will further shorten the trip to Vermilion Dam and Buyck.
April 20
Loyd Shively and a large contingent of area farmers meet with the county commissioners concerning the location and route of the new road from the head of the lake.
April 25
Shively purchases all interests at Vermilion Dam from the Graff Mineral Company.
September 3
The grade school at Vermilion Dam is now part of the Tower-Soudan school district. Miss Victoria Bement of Superior WI is the teacher.
October 4
Thirty-one-year-old Mrs. Loyd Shively (Addie E. Everett) passes away after surgery in Virginia MN. She leaves behind husband Loyd (36) and three daughters: Loy (11), Eveline (10) and Adelyne(Adeline) (8).

A petition has been circulated by Tower Postmaster Helm to all region Postmasters and lake residents to request a regular, daily mail route be established for the lake and its residents. The petition is sent to the Postmaster General in Washington.
“Amusement structures” have been added to the school yard at Vermilion Dam. The schoolmaster reports 96% attendance.


January 6
A blizzard has engulfed the lake area and Loyd Shively and his three daughters are marooned in Tower for three days while returning to Vermilion Lodge. 

Vermilion Lodge's own gas powered launch Comet

Vermilion Lodge's own gas powered launch Comet leaves Tower at 1:30PM daily throughout the summer.


Roads in the Vermilion Dam area are being plowed regularly for the first-time during winter months.
January 26
Loyd Shively reports that he has installed a “3-tube radio receiving set and get everything that flows in the air”. News of the world is received much quicker than a 40-mile round trip on foot to Tower in the winter to catch up.
September 2
The Tower-Soudan school board reports that 30 pupils are enrolled at Vermilion Dam School..


Loyd Shively has built several new cottages and updated the main lodge at “Vermilion Lodge”.

The Minnesota Legislature approves $10,000 appropriation to mark boat channels with buoys on Lake Vermilion.

June 4
Tower Eighth Grade holds its graduation ceremonies at Vermilion Dam.

August 1
The Vermilion Improvement Association recommends that the log and stone coffer Vermilion Dam be raised by 18 inches as the lake level is 2.5 to 3 ft lower than normal.



January 9
The route and construction of State Highway 1 (what is now County Road 24) is approved and the project begins that will shorten the route to Vermilion Dam by 40 miles!

September 24
The postmaster at Vermilion Dam (Loyd R. Shively was not named in news stories, but he was the postmaster at this time) is arrested for violation of the Volstead Act (18th Amendment)



February 7
Loyd R. Shively weds Cressie L. Tetzman.



May 3
The Civilian Conservation Corps Camp 723 begins planning seasonal headquarters at Vermilion Dam.



December 21
St. Louis County Commission learned that the very law that all commissioners and most of the population supported to prevent random and rampant damming of flowing waters in the region is going to stop the Lake Vermilion-saving dam planned for Vermilion Dam! The Shipstead-Nolan Bill of 1931 banned the construction of ALL dams in the border lakes areas of Northeastern Minnesota, regardless of the purpose. The dam which has been planned since 1916 and finally approved by the state and county is now dead.


March 7
A bill is introduced in the Minnesota Legislature which would put the power of controlling water levels in the state’s lakes and streams in the hands of the Minnesota conservation commission- a bill designed to get around the Shipstead-Nolan Bill. However, the bill is withdrawn as it is widely felt that it will be struck down if passed.


March 12
The Minnesota State Forestry Department obtains permission to construct and maintain telephone lines from Joyce’s Landing on the west end of Lake Vermilion to Vermilion Dam. 


May 27
Daughter of Loyd, Loy C. Shively weds Louis J. Trowbridge.
June 1

Frank Ruzek purchases Vermilion Lodge from Loyd R. Shively


A concrete, low-head, 5-foot high dam is constructed at the head of the Vermilion River at Vermilion Dam. After years of requests, negotiations, legislation and threats of litigation, the dam is built for reasons of fish and wildlife habitat preservation. The dam is owned by the State of Minnesota and managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources- Fisheries division. Dam #MN01226 is inspected every 8 years. The dam is officially listed at Latitude 47.960963, Longitude -92.475832. 1,358ft above sea level.


October 23
Frank Ruzek passes away after 11 years of owning Vermilion Dam. His wife Paulene takes over management of the resort.


February 2
Loyd R. Shively passes away



Vermilion Dam Lodge owner Jay Mault organizes several resort owners (Bob Mann (Mann’s Resort, now Voyageur Cove) and Theodore Anderson (Anderson’s Resort, now Head of Lake) and others; Val Cook of Cold Springs, Inc.; Elton Olson of the Tower Chamber of Commerce; Bill Ellison of Minnesota Power; John Aronson of Aronson Boat Works; and Abel Anderson) to form the "Sportsmen's Club of Lake Vermilion". By August of 1968 the group had grown to more than 1,700 members. One of the first tasks they took on was to build up the walleye population. In 1946, the state-run fish hatchery closed. By 1968, the lack of fish in the lake was very noticeable. The group worked with local bait businessman Val Cook to devise a stocking plan. However, the state threatened jail time for anyone found stocking walleye hatched by Cook. The group worked hard on the state and finally, they obtained permits to trap sucker fish- rough fish believed to harm walleye.  With the sucker population under control due to this trapping, the group continued to lobby the state to re-open the hatchery.


The dogged efforts of the Sportsmen's Club board and the support of a few legislators helped convince the state to reopen the fish hatchery. The hard work of the original eight members and all of the new members had paid off and the club became the voice of the people that Vermilion Dam owner Jay Mault had hoped for. Now called the Vermilion Lake Association, the group continues to care for and promote the health of the lake.
December 5

Cressie L. (Tetzman) Shively passes away..


December 5
Cressie L. (Tetzman) Shively passes away.


Following Frank Ruzek's death in 1958, Frank's wife Pauline ran Vermilion Dam Lodge until she sold it to the Jay and Joan Maults in 1961. The Maults added many updated cabins that are still part of the resort today. Jay Mault became instrumental in a number of efforts to improve Vermilion for all.

In 1974 The Maults sold the resort to Dave and Linda Beer. The Beers ran the resort for 19 years, raising their children at the resort. The Beers were successful in making many upgrades to the resort including getting approval from the county to reroute the County Road 24 around the resort which for many years ran right through the middle of the resort.
In 1993 David Beer sold the resort to Darwin and George Nelson. The Nelsons operated the resort for five years and also contributed many new upgrades including the building of the new six bedroom cabin 'Aerie'. The Nelson's sold the resort in 1998 to the current owners Ed Tausk and George Wronowski. Ed and George have added the cabins Spruce, Aspen, Norway, Fishing Quarters West & East, & Lakeview. They have spent time upgrading many cabins and the main lodge. Ed and George will continue to grow and improve the resort for many years to come.

Much of the information and images on this page has been extracted from the public domain archives of the Tower Weekly News (Thankfully preserved by publisher Enice Burgess), Duluth Herald, The Virginia Enterprise, Hibbing Miner, and other periodicals available through the Library of Congress. Special thanks to for use of some content. Other information obtained from writings and recollections of first-hand accounts as noted in the information above. Information is provided purely for the documentation of historical information and educational purposes of the reader. Some data falls under "Creative Commons" copyright coverage. A reasonable attempt has been made to obtain permission for any items that may have a copyright and any items posted here have been determined to be in the public domain and/or have no claimed copyright. Some images have been created using artificial intelligence tools and fall under copyright of the creator where permission has been granted.

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