Lifespan of a Building

By Beau Readman and Catherine CrawfordNational Park Service

Imagine you are time traveling, your destination is a sandy beach on the northeast shore of Crane Lake, Minnesota, and the time is July 1880. You will encounter a beach that is edged with a forest of pine. You may see wildlife, but it is less likely you will encounter another human or signs of human habitation. Travel forward in time to the summer of 1934 and the same site on the northeast shore of Crane Lake. You are surprised to find a small one-bedroom log cabin with shorter than normal doorways and a screened-in front porch that was just built by Dr. Jake Casareto. Now you decide to speed forward to the summer of 2014, same place, and discover that the Casareto cabin has many whimsical log additions. You try to imagine the seasons, the harsh winters, and the use which the cabin has managed to survive through the past 80 years.

Casareto Cabin 1934

Casareto Cabin 2014

If you were to time travel to the south shore of Hoist Bay, Namakan Lake in July 1880 you would find a quiet, hidden shore forested with large pines. Maybe you would encounter members of the Bois Forte Ojibwe. Travel forward to a summer in the early 1900s in Hoist Bay and the change is drastic; railroad tracks extend far out into the bay, the trees have been cut, and tar paper buildings of Virginia & Rainy Lake Logging Camp 75 line the south shore. Skip to the late 1940s, same site, and a trim row of white guest cabins replaces the tar paper buildings. The property was purchased by Ted and Fern Monson and they have built a little tourist oasis in the quiet north woods. Today, many decades later, signs of the logging camp remain on the landscape and the cabins and other buildings from the resort still stand at Hoist Bay.

Camp 75 at Hoist Bay

Monson's Hoist Bay Resort

If structures are left to weather the seasons without care, they slowly molder back into the landscape. Keeping vegetation away from buildings; replacing roofs; and repairing and painting logs, siding, or trim helps to preserve them. This summer, the Casareto cabin will enjoy tender care. Logs will be repaired and painted and siding, windows, doors, and trim will be scraped and painted. At Hoist Bay, the seven historic buildings will receive new roofing, siding will be repaired, and all structures will get a fresh coat of paint

Voyageurs National Park is striving to preserve its historic structures for future time travelers.