In the early 1930’s, Lars Johnson, a salesman from Bismarck, North Dakota, & 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, in the heart of 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 (Chippewa), Honeymoon (Cedar), Westlawn (Lumberjack), Balsam, Mohawk, Hilltop, and Lakeview. They were equipped with two burner hotplates, wood stoves & nearby outhouses.  A large wood shed was constructed to store firewood for the cabins & water was secured by a hand pump & carried to the cabins. The pasture had a vegetable garden & cows. Tetonka, a small log cabin near the pasture, was used as a shed to milk the cows. At that time, Lars brought fresh milk to guests staying at the resort.


Warren Youngdahl (right) sawing trees

In 1958, Warren Youngdahl, a journeyman carpenter & builder, along with his wife Madeline & daughter Linda, left San Francisco, California having purchased a fishing resort in Ely, Minnesota. They partnered with another couple & operated Singing Water’s Lodge on Birch Lake (now an Outward Bound Camp), for two seasons. Following that business, 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 started making improvements which included enlarged living spaces, indoor bathrooms, modernized kitchens with stoves (instead of two burner hotplates) & hot running water. Madeline cleaned cabins (heating water in a tea kettle in the early years), washed laundry & tended to the bookkeeping & reservations. Over the years, Warren hand dug water & gas lines along with several fish pits. Some of the cabins took on new names such as Honeymoon, renamed Cedar, after having several signs stolen!

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

The Youngdahls also purchased a cabin from a former resort & dismantled it to move to the resort property.  Warren then rebuilt it & the cabin was named Spruce.  The original wood shed was taken down so a garage could be built & a new wood shed was built across from the fish cleaning house. Until 1994, deer hunters rented cabins in the fall & hunted nearby. The original road to the resort was altered at the creek to eliminate the sharp curve & 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 & serving in many local & state positions to support his community.  In 1997 Madeline purchased a hand scribed cedar log building, formerly a real estate office in Marcell, & moved it to the resort to serve as an office for guest check-ins. Madeline, with the help of her daughter Linda, husband Harold (Stadstad) & their children Erik & Kristen, continued to operate Jack The Horse Resort. Linda & the kids moved into Balsam cabin each May to August with Harold coming on the weekends. The Stadstad family would return home at the end of the resort season for the school year. Harold & Linda also began construction of a year-round lake home for themselves on Jack The Horse Lake which was completed in 2000.

After high school, Kristen moved to Montana and returned to work at the resort during the summers. In 2004, Kristen & Josh were married in a small outdoor ceremony overlooking Jack The Horse Lake. Madeline continued to own the resort with the help of Harold & Linda and with Josh & Kristen living on site in Lakeview cabin during the summer seasons. Madeline passed away in 2009, after having spent 50 years as a resort owner at Jack The Horse Lake, a place she truly loved. Some of the resort guests she knew were the 5th generation to vacation at the Youngdahl’s resort!

Harold & Linda then became the resort owners with Josh & Kristen living in the Youngdahl’s home & serving as the on-site managers for many years. Josh & Kristen are pleased to be your new resort owners & hosts. Jack The Horse Resort is a very special place to them and has now been family owned & operated for over 60 years! They invite you, along with your family and friends, to enjoy the rich history & experience the wonderful tradition of vacationing at Jack The Horse Resort!