Itasca County Resorts with a History: Cedar Point Resort

“Maple Syrup and Morel Mushrooms”

8.14.2022

It is probably because North Star Lake is known for trophy Northern Pike, that there have been resorts here since the late 1910s. By 1938, when Cedar Point was established, there were five others and at the peak of the resort industry there were nine. Today three resorts which have been around since at least 1938 remain – North Star Resort, Big Timber (formerly Pine Crest) and, of course, Cedar Point Resort!

Carl & Evelyn Bartick 1938-1967

Carl and Evelyn Bartick came to Itasca County from Champlin, Minnesota in the late 1920s or early 1930s. They bought about fifteen acres on the west side of North Star Lake with the intention of establishing a resort.

Carl’s parents, German immigrants, perished in an apartment fire in Geneva, NY in November 1888. Seven-month-old Carl and his sister were passed through an open window and saved. The young children were placed in an orphanage and lived in foster homes.  Carl was not yet ten when he first ran away and, on one adventure, lost his left arm when he attempted to jump onto a train.

As a traveling salesman, Carl had been on the road for over two decades. He was ready to settle down when he married Evelyn in 1925.  Several years later, Carl and Evelyn moved north with their young son Frederick “Fritz” and Carl’s seventeen-year-old son from a previous marriage who was also named Fred.

According to great-grandson Frederick George Bartick II (son of Frederick George, eldest son of Carl), there was a cabin on the property when they purchased it which later burned down. It is probable that this became cabin #4, as it was destroyed by a fire in the 1970s. “My great-grandfather got the idea to establish a resort because a traveler passing through stopped and asked if they would rent him a room overnight,” Frederick George Bartick II said. His father started Fred’s Bait shop, on highway 2 in the early 1960s.

When the Barticks started the resort, Highway 38 was still a rutted road. To get to the property from Marcell, there were three miles of the old railroad bed (“Gut and Liver”), and then a mile long horse trail to the beautiful cedar timbered point of land.  The lodge (office, dining room and kitchen) and root cellar were built in 1936 and the rest of the cabins during the first ten years. A neighbor, for whom Bill’s Lake (just west of the resort) is named, helped Carl and Fred build the cabins.

Two more children, Gary and Marlys, were born during the years the resort was being built. They named it Bartick’s Cedar Point Resort.  Like many in the area at the time, the resort catered to fishermen and ran on the American plan – all meals provided in the dining room. These meals were cooked by Evelyn and Marlys when she was old enough to help. There were plenty of maple trees which were tapped, and morel mushroom collected.  In addition, there was a large garden. Bait was purchased from a local source and sold to the fishermen.

In the early 1940s there were eight modern cabins, all painted white. Modern meant bottle gas, electricity, running water, and showers or bathtubs. The rates were $22.50 a week for cabins and $4.50 a day for meals. Activities offered included tennis, croquet, horseshoes, and saddle horses. Before long three larger cabins were built as there was more emphasis on family vacations.

Carl was a crowd pleaser and spent time developing a clientele. In a brochure from the late 1950s he adds a personal message. “To those not acquainted with Cedar Point or the North Woods, let me say it will be a pleasure to talk things over personally and to try to make you feel the friendly spirit that prevails. I have lived here a number of years and am well acquainted with the country and will be able to help you plan your vacation, select your fishing grounds, etc…—C.H. Bartick.”

By the mid-1960s, a swimming pool, putting green, and shuffleboard court were added, as there were now more families than just fisherman that came to the resort.

Carl died in 1965 at the age of seventy-eight, and for a year or two, Evelyn continued to run the resort on her own. She was still doing most of the cooking and cleaning but, even with help, it was really too much.

In Between Years 1967-1983

Evelyn Bartick sold the resort to Larry and Charlotte McKibbons for $52,000.  The McKibbons changed the cabins to housekeeping – adding a kitchen area and ran the resort year-around. They no longer served meals, but the lodge was still the hub of the resort. In 1971 the McKibbons sold to Dick and Eileen Schmitz. At some point, the white cabins were painted red.

In 1982, the Schmitzes looked at the option of selling the ten cabins as a condominium type arrangement but, when potential buyers of the entire resort approached them, the plan was halted. They sold the resort for $195,000.

May & Senger Families 1983-2019

“The reason that we bought the Cedar Point Resort,” Maria May said, “was because my husband loved to fish.”  Twenty years earlier Maria and Pete met and married in Germany where Pete was stationed in the army. Karen, their middle daughter, moved with them from St. Cloud and worked there for three years before heading to the Twin Cities to work. After she married Tim Senger, and her folks were ready to retire, the Sengers bought the resort.

Pete & Maria May 1983-2002

Pete and Maria had talked about owning a resort and started looking at the ads in the newspaper. They settled on Cedar Point because they liked the lake and the layout. The pool was a plus as the Mays focus was on families.  To that end, some of the first things they did were to update the playground, put in a boat launch, and establish a campground. The campground option was less expensive for families, but they were still entitled to all the amenities.

One of the biggest initial challenges for the Mays was building a clientele.  The resort had been closed the year before they bought it. Many guests had stayed at another resort and, when that happens, they sometimes don’t come back. “We updated the cabins and offered activities for families,” Maria explained. “We had a spaghetti dinner one night a week that included salad, bread, and dessert. It was a very popular event.” The Mays also made caramel rolls one morning each week, had a movie and popcorn night and, of course the makings for s’mores.

With the introduction of the Polaroid camera, Pete and Maria began taking photos of guests who caught big fish.  These were displayed on the walls of the lodge and then put into a photo album. Pete was the one who came up with the idea to fill a gallon jar with colored water and see if the kids could drop a quarter in the glass to win fishing tackle.  The jar still sits on the counter. The water is a new color every year, but the prizes have changed to pop or a candy bar.

Games in the lodge were a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.  Maria recalls the Trivial Pursuit craze. “Families would play against families, it seemed to work best when there were large groups. There was always plenty of laughter and fun.”

“We had the resort for nineteen years,” Maria said. “It was a lot of work, but we really enjoyed it.”

Tim & Karen (May) Senger 2002-2019

“We came up to the resort with our kids as much as we could,” Tim said. Even before he met Karen, he and a friend had looked at buying a resort.  When Karen’s parents were getting ready to sell, everything fell into place for Tim and Karen to be the next owners.

The Sengers turned the owner’s living quarters into a cabin and updated the other cabins and put in air-conditioning. “We renamed the eleven cabins,” Karen explained. “Instead of being numbered we gave them names that fit our surroundings like Beaver Lodge, Bear’s Den, and Eagle’s Nest.”  They continued with most of the family traditions Pete and Maria had started. “Except we no longer had the spaghetti dinners.  As my mom said, they were a lot of work, and it just didn’t fit our lifestyle.”

Instead, they tried a few new food items over the campfire.  The pizza on a stick bombed, but the doughnuts were a hit. Cake doughnuts are put on a two-pronged roasting stick until they are warmed all the way through.  Then they are rolled in a cinnamon sugar mix.  They taste just like the mini doughnuts at a fair and are really good.

Before the end of every week, the Sengers took photographs of each family and put them in photo albums. Families that came here year after year loved paging through to see what they and the friends they made while vacationing used to look like.

The Senger’s daughters, Holly and Courtney grew up at Cedar Point Resort, and graduated from Bigfork High School. “Resorting is a great way of life,” Karen said. “Our girls had a special connection with some of our guests and those relationships have lasted.” Like the Mays, most of the guests have come from the Twin Cities, and other Minnesota locations, Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois. Several families had been staying at Cedar Point for three and four generations.

In 2015, Tim decided the playground needed to be updated so he built an incredible Pirate Ship. Cedar Point truly was a family-focused resort. “My fondest memories,” Karen said, “were hearing kids yelling and screaming on the beach and playground. I also loved my time with the guests when we’d make roasted doughnuts and s’mores.”

“On ice cream social night,” Tim explained, “I’d dish out sixty bowls of ice cream and everyone would put on their own toppings.  My favorite memory is on check-in day when all the kids would jump out of the cars and do everything in the first half hour!”

Mike & Tracy Boldt 2019-current

In 2016 Mike and Tracy Boldt decided they wanted to buy a resort.  Originally from Lansing, Michigan, Mike knew that over thirty years working for General Motors was long enough.  Tracy, an RN, held a position that allowed her to work remotely, so they looked at resorts in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. They drove into Cedar Point one beautiful spring day. “I thought, oh my gosh this is a big place, Tracy said. “Mike believed it was perfect. He really wanted to leave the corporate world…it was his dream, so we decided it would work for us.”

“The summer of 2019 was our first year,” Mike said, “and we learned a lot! Then we had two years of COVID.”  It is evident that the Boldts have settled into their new role as resort owners. They have made a few changes, a new swimming pool, a relaxed check-in system, and a few new water toys. Mike is updating the bathrooms and putting on new roofs.

“We’ve added making cake shakes and playing bingo,” Tracy said. “And replaced caramel rolls for cinnamon rolls, just like the water toys—you’ve got to have new things for the kids. If the kids are happy, the parents are happy!” The Boldts have three cabins that are available year around. The largest can accommodate sixteen people. This year they purchased Chapel Hill, a small resort on Sand Lake (about 30 minutes away) because their largest cabins are always booked. One of the cabins there, as well as three at Cedar Point are winterized. Chapel Hill was established in 1936 and has a history all its own.

The Morris family has been coming to Cedar Point since the early 1970s when Doris cajoled her husband Jack into taking a short family vacation.  The next year they stayed for a full week. Since then, all members of the Morris family do everything in their power to be together at Cedar Point for their designated week. Jack has passed away, but 91-year-old Doris and her children and grandchildren now occupied four cabins. They have instilled many family traditions, including taking turns making dinner within the chosen theme of the year.

Traditions at a resort are special. “People still talk about Pete and Maria’s spaghetti dinners,” Mike said. “And, of course, evening campfires and s’mores are a requirement!” The Boldt’s are very happy they found Cedar Point and anticipate long-term relationships with the families that have been staying there for generations, as well as the families that spent their first summer there this year.

1 Comment

  1. Vickie says:

    Carl’s story was fascinating. I kept thinking it would make a good children’s novel.

    Like

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