History

Sometime in the early 1930’s, Lars Johnson, a salesman from Bismarck, North Dakota, and his wife purchased property in northern Minnesota to start a small fishing resort. Camp Jack-The-Horse Resort was situated along the southeast shore of the lake, nestled in the Chippewa National Forest. The couple gradually built cabins for their summer guests, even turning their chicken house into a place for visitors. The original names of the cabins were: Mexicana, Honeymoon, Westlawn, which they later changed to Ranch House, Balsam, Mohawk, Hilltop, and Lakeview. They were equipped with two burner hotplates, wood stoves and nearby outhouses. A large wood shed was constructed to store firewood for the cabins and water was secured by a hand pump and carried to the cabins. The pasture had a vegetable garden and was inhabited by milking cows. Tetonka, a small log cabin which still sits near the pasture, was used as a shed to milk cows. At that time, Lars brought fresh milk to guests staying at the resort.

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In 1958 a journeyman carpenter and builder, Warren Youngdahl, along with his wife Madeline and daughter Linda, left San Francisco, California having purchased a fishing resort in Ely, Minnesota. They partnered with another couple and operated Singing Water’s Lodge (now an Outward Bound Camp) on Birch Lake for two seasons. Following that business venture, they began looking for a resort to call their own. In 1959 they bought Camp Jack-The-Horse Resort which then consisted of seven cabins. Warren set to work on making improvements which included enlarged living spaces, indoor bathrooms, modernized kitchens with stoves (instead of 3 burner hotplates) and hot running water. Madeline cleaned cabins (heating water in a tea kettle in the early years), washed laundry and tended to the bookkeeping and reservations. Over the years, Warren hand dug water and gas lines along with several fish pits. Some of the cabins took on new names: Mexicana became Chippewa, and Honeymoon, which had several signs stolen, became Cedar.

Fishing was the main attraction and guests fished from wooden, flat bottomed boats made by a local builder. Lars had designed a unique pulley system used for pulling the boats in so they could be stored in a cinder block boathouse during the winter. There were long bamboo cane fishing poles for guests who bought hand dug worms from Linda for ten cents a dozen! A Finnish designed sauna was added for guests to “steam” in at the end of the day followed by a run down to the lake for a cold plunge. Guests bought candy, pop and hand scooped ice cream cones at the office which was located in an old log home occupied by the Youngdahls. Later, Warren built a new home in the same location.

The Youngdahls purchased a cabin from a former resort and dismantled it to move to the resort property. Warren then rebuilt it and the cabin was named Spruce. The original wood shed was taken down so a garage could be built and a new wood shed was built across from the fish cleaning house. Until 1994, deer hunters rented cabins in the fall and would hunt nearby or on the resort back property. The original road to the resort was altered at the creek to eliminate the sharp curve and the snow piling up in the winter due to the heavy tree coverage.

In the spring of 1995, Warren passed away after 35 years of operating the resort, building custom homes in the area, and serving in many local and state positions to support his community. Madeline, with the help of her daughter Linda and family, continued to operate Jack-The-Horse Resort. In 1997 Madeline purchased a hand scribed cedar log building (formerly a real estate office in Marcell) and moved it to the resort to serve as an office for checking in her guests. During February of 2009, Madeline passed away after having spent 50 years as a resorter. Many of the guests that she met were from Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, some being the fifth generation to vacation at the Youngdahl’s resort!

Jack-The-Horse Resort continues to be family owned and operated by the Stadstad family. Harold & Linda Stadstad (Youngdahl) are the resort owners and spent many summers planning and building their now year-round lake home less than a mile from the resort property. Their son Erik lives in Minneapolis, MN and in 2011 he designed & built (with the help of Harold) a private luxury lake home on Jack-The-Horse Lake available for vacationers year-round. Harold & Linda’s daughter Kristen and husband Josh Huot, were married in 2004 in an outdoor ceremony overlooking Jack The Horse Lake. They now serve as resort managers and occupy the Youngdahl home.

For our family, Jack-The-Horse Resort has been a place for creating traditions, relaxing in peaceful surroundings, enjoying priceless memories and exploring the great outdoors. We’d like to invite you, along with your family and friends, to a wonderful vacation at Jack-The-Horse Resort!

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