Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For September 21st, 2007 Edition.
My recent column regarding some of my most cherished memories of days spent on Clear Lake, (Oneida County) spawned a number of positive responses from readers, who were more than willing to share their own personal fond memories of time spent on Clear Lake. Thanks to all of you for your time and consideration!
The revelation that the proposed development of the Red Pine Camp property has been cancelled, and the historic camp will continue to be run as a girl's camp, created even more positive accolades from numerous interested parties. Three cheers for the Red Pine Camp alumnae who opened their hearts and wallets to buy the property back from the developer!
One individual who responded to my Clear Lake column was Jerry Buerer, a co-owner of historic and the very beautiful Duchess Island on Clear Lake. The two of us hooked up for several long telephone conversations, which resulted in a face-to-face meeting on the new fishing dock located at the picnic area on the north shore of the north bay. It was a delightful hour of conversation and Jerry provided me with a ton of highly interesting information about the lake, its early settlers and other little know facts.
My original information as to the earliest date buildings were erected on Duchess Island, the early 1920s, which was supplied by a real estate salesman in the early 1960s, was incorrect. Mr. Buerer supplied me with documentation that the first dwellings were constructed on Duchess Island in 1902.
Originally, the island was known as Clear Lake Island Lodge, so named by James Stover, who negotiated the purchase of the island in 1902 (for $1,400) and the purchasers, who were named as Billie Walker, A.C. (Judge) Brazee, "Governor" Wheeler, Sterling Wood, Lawrence Conway, Tom Richardson and Harry Cole. The name of the island was changed to Duchess Island shortly after World War II.
Carl Spencer bought Duchess Island shortly after WW II and operated it as an American plan resort for five or six years. In 1965 the island was purchased by the Speckhard family, who along with the Buerer's still own it.
Electricity came to the islands in 1931 in the way of overhead lines, which were replaced by underwater lines in the fall of 1974. Soon after which phone service likewise arrived.
After the first building was built on Duchess Island in 1902, more were eventually added. Included were 5 cabins, the main residence, a recreation building, boathouse, and a caretakers cabin.
The log cottage is still referred to as the "Billie Warren Cabin." After his death in 1917, per his wishes, his ashes were spread upon the waters in front of the cabin as a committal service. Today rumors persist that Billie Warren's ghost still wanders the island.
Besides Duchess Island, there are four other islands, which are privately owned and contain dwellings. Actually, one of the islands is only an island during periods of unusually high water, but during low water, such as at the present, is a peninsula.
The property on which Red Pine Camp is presently located was originally a fishing camp owned by Hub Chapin. There is speculation that the Chapin property escaped the lumberjack's ax during the period when most of the remaining land surrounding Clear Lake was logged off by the Land, Log and Lumber Company. The original fishing lodge, although updated, still stands and has long served as the dining hall at Red Pine Camp.
Gus and Bill Krogman owned the camp and lodge between the Chapin's ownership and the time the property was sold to the Wittencamp family in the late 1930s.
The Stover family, long time residents on another island, was the first to obtain an outboard motor to navigate the pristine waters of Clear Lake. In 1913 they bought an Evinrude motor, serial number 47, to power their Peshtigo boat. Probably worth a small fortune should it still be in existence today, but alas, for decades the motor has rested in peace somewhere at the bottom of Clear Lake.
Much of the current information concerning the history of Clear Lake is found in logbooks owned by the Stover family. In the log a notation mentions in 1909 three anglers caught two muskies. Muskies are not native to landlocked lakes, hence, someone must have introduced that species some time earlier. Today Clear Lake is home to numerous muskies, many of which are well into the trophy class.
According to the logbook, another non-native species to landlocked lakes was introduced to Clear Lake in 1913. It is believed some men from Clear Lake Island Lodge purchased a load of walleye fry, which were dumped into Clear Lake. Today walleye is counted as one of the major game fish species currently present in the lake.
There is so much more history contained in the six-page document provided to me by Jerry Buerer, which space does not permit me to share at this time. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Buerer for his time and effort expended, which allows me to share this interesting and historic information with my readers. Thanks Jerry!
Hopefully, Clear Lake, one of the true crown jewels of the north, will continue to inspire and hold in awe countless others for countless decades.
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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