Our House Was a Very Nice House
When we moved from central Minnesota to the Gunflint Trail in 1993 we had a nice house. It was simple as some of you may remember. A small structure maybe 16′ x 20′, no indoor plumbing and basically one room. Beneath it sat the cement block basement that served as our store and office. In the middle of the concrete floor there was a drain which sat directly below the showerhead strategically placed on a pole. It was there, in the middle of the store, where we took showers during the months when the bath and shower house were closed(October-May). Needless to say we didn’t linger long underneath the stream of water fully exposing ourselves to whomever may be around. That and the fact the drain only led to a holding barrel that needed to be pumped and the water hauled out in 5 gallon buckets. Life was simple back then when the only heat we had was from a wood burning stove and no one argued about whose turn it was to clean the bathroom(we just called the poop truck to come and pump). Times have changed since we first moved here and I seriously used a ringer washing machine to wash sheets and towels, Don Enzenauer, the previous owner, did not own a regular washing machine.
I remember when we moved into the lodge 5 years later. From 0 flush toilets to 6 flush toilets and no more hauling water out by hand. Our old house was moved up into the parking lot to be used for extra bunkhouse space on this side of the river. Guests weren’t very impressed with being able to stay in the owner’s old house so it was probably the next year when we made it into staff housing.
I always laughed when staff would complain about their living conditions… "I lived in that house for 5 years I think you can handle 3 months!" It was named the "Doll House" and the "Hen House" because we primarily had the female staff live there. I’m sure it had other names too. 2006 was to be the last year for our house as we decided to tear it down and build 3 new staff quarters.
The new staff quarters weren’t really "new" but re-used. A neighbor of ours was building a new cabin and we decided to take his old cabin apart and make 3 new staff quarters out of it. It was the spring of 2007 when the dollhouse was basically torn apart and our new housing was being completed. In fact on the 5th of May 2007 a staff member spent the first and only night in the new housing before it burned to the ground during the Ham Lake Fire. All of our staff housing was lost except for the Doll House that looked like it had been burned. It sat empty during the summer of 2007 with guests assuming it had been damaged during the fire.
Time flew by as it always does and the Doll House remained during the summer of 2008. Last summer our kids thought it was the coolest play house ever. So cool in fact they decided to spray paint the outside of it with fluorescent pink spray paint, "Stay Out!" It really added to the classiness of our resort(sarcasm).
Oh if those walls could speak what a story they would tell. The memories contained in that small space could fill pages of paper. But the Doll House had seen better days and needed to go. As Fire Chief of the GTVFD Mike decided it would be good training to burn a real building. So after hours upon hours of removing valuable lumber(very little), windows, all of the shingles and any other items per the DNR requirements the Doll House was ready to burn.
The live burn at Voyageur was sheduled and re-scheduled and re-scheduled again. The first time it was suppose to happen on the 27th of January but something wasn’t right for that date so it was moved to the 24th of March. It had to be re-scheduled to the 31st of March because of a major snowstorm only to have a major ice storm on the 31st. Since the power company was busy elsewhere dealing with ice on the power lines we had to re-schedule to the 9th of April, last night.
With a clear sky, power company on site and the GTVFD ready and waiting April 9th was to be the day the Doll House Died. The dry lumber didn’t take long to start crackling and after an hour or so of intense heat and flames the Doll House was reduced to the size of a small bonfire.
It looks strange when I look outside and I can’t see our old house in the parking lot. I did shed some tears as my old house burned because it was our house and it was a very nice house.