Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For March 19th, 2010 Edition.
The recent (reprint) article that appeared in the Feb. 26th "Extra" edition of the Times relating much of the history of Musky Inn Resort in St. Germain did an excellent job of rekindling many fond memories I have, which are related to that once popular and historic property.
During the 1940s and 50s dad received many guiding jobs from that resort, as well as the other seven America Plan resorts located on Big St. Germain Lake. Besides Musky Inn, there was Hunter's Big St. Germain Resort (Now Fibber's), Clear View Lodge, Y-Z Lodge, Normandy Court, Wawona Lodge and Jack Pine Lodge. Another American Plan Resort, Lofty Pines, opened for business in the late 1950s. Sadly, no American Plan resorts presently operate at Big Saint.
My earliest dim memories of Musky Inn date back to 1944, when I was seven. One of dad's clients, Mr. & Mrs. Bill Goeske, spent their summer vacation/fishing trips at Musky Inn. I recall meeting the Goeske's at the resort and dining with them and my parents.
Bill and his wife eventually purchased the resort sometime during the 1940s and ran it as an American Plan establishment for about a decade. My mind fails to recall all the succeeding owners, as there was a steady progression of new management teams that attempted to keep the dream alive.
The resort business was a much different breed of cat years ago than it is presently. The "tourist season" began when the fishing season opened in May and pretty much came to a screeching halt the day after Labor Day. There was a dribble of business into early October for color worshipers and fall fishing diehards, but many resorts closed their doors for the season right after Labor Day.
A few resorts kept a couple cabins heated and open for deer hunters, but those establishments were few and far between, and deer season back then only lasted seven days compared to the several months awarded to modern day would be deer slayers.
Another of my earliest memories concerning Musky Inn was a small sign attached to the main sign at the entrance to the resort off Big St. Germain Drive. It simply read; "Gentiles Only!" At the time I had no idea what that meant, and even after dad explained the message to me I was still bewildered why a certain ethnic group would be or should be excluded. Yes, a bit of bigotry and racism did exist in the northwoods even in the Good Old Days!
Normally, Musky Inn sat vacant during the winter months. But the property did attract a smattering of winter sports enthusiasts. Local kids knew about the toboggan and downhill ski run located just south of the main building. A high and fairly steep slope allowed kids of all ages to whiz downhill and glide almost all the way to the shore of Big Saint - provided they didn't crash land on the descent. The trudge uphill wasn't much fun, but my pals and I were willing to spend a weekend afternoon sledding or skiing down Musky Inn Hill!
Another favored fall sport was hunting ducks along the then vacant east shore of Big Saint between Musky Inn and Y-Z Lodge. The near mile of undeveloped shoreline contained a thick stand of bulrushes that extended well out into the lake. This allowed waterfowl hunters to "blind up" in the bulrushes and ambush migrating mallards, bluebills, canvasbacks, redheads, buffleheads and goldeneyes.
Today, few, if any, opportunities exist at that location to duplicate those memories, as Big Saint is generally host to numerous late fall musky and walleye anglers, which prevents the build up of large numbers of migrating waterfowl to take place.
Once I obtained my guide license in 1953, like my father, I received numerous bookings from anglers that vacationed at Musky Inn. Of course, back then the traditional noontime shore lunch was nearly always included in a day of fishing with a guide. Musky Inn, like a number of other top-notch vacation destinations, had early on developed a rustic shore lunch location about a hundred yards south of the resort. The site was nestled in a grove of mature pines and contained several wooden picnic tables, a fire pit and a stone grill. The site was "open to the public" and was one of several favored locations for guides and their parties to pull ashore for a delightful noontime feast.
The bar at Musky Inn was also a popular place for anglers to come ashore and partake in a pre-dinner or pre-lunch cocktail, should they so-desire. One of my annual clients, Congressman Charlie Halleck of Indiana, often steered my boat towards Musky Inn's dock for a snifter of internal body stimulants prior to indulging in our daily shore lunch.
As a conservative Republican Charlie served in Congress for 32 years and acted as both minority and majority leaders for the House of Representatives, depending on which political party was in power.
In July of 1964 Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson were getting ready to square off for the Presidential Election in November. Charlie and I took a break from fishing and settled on a couple of bar stools at Musky Inn for an appetite enhancer prior to heading to the shore lunch area. At the time a gentleman by the name of Joe Seabold (sp) owned Musky Inn and also tended bar. He recognized Congressman Halleck and decided to have a little fun at the politician's expense.
Naturally, Charlie firmly backed Goldwater, and had nothing positive to say about the ultra-liberal and then President, Johnson. Mr. Seibold began verbally praising the Democrats hoping to draw Charlie into a political debate, but the old veteran didn't take the bait. We quickly finished our drinks and departed. Once outside Charlie let off a little steam by saying to me, "That's the last time we stop here for a drink!" Great memories!
When Bonnie and Lee Weslaski took over Musky Inn in 1975 the resort was in its 71st year of operation. Our family and friends continued to enjoy dining there frequently. Our son, Chris, then a teenager, obtained permission to explore the old Musky Inn dump for artifacts and "treasures."
Years ago, prior to the practice becoming illegal, all the resorts had their own dump. Anything and everything that needed to be discarded was simply dumped in the woods away from the resort. Chris and his pals brought home sacks of old bottles, dishes, tools and what have you. I'm not sure if he saved any of it, but I know he received a hands-on educations concerning stuff that resorts used in the "Good Old Days."
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
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