Shing Wako Resort: A
1936 The 7 1/2 acre resort property was purchased by Edward J.
and Wilhemena (Minnie) Schmidt and F.R. Seyferth.
1937 E.J. and Minnie
Schmidt and F.R. Seyferth, took a mortgage
out for $2,500 to build the resort. Shing Wako was well known as a dance hall,
tavern, country store and gas station; as well as a housekeeping resort with six
cottages, an ice house, a maintained beach, dock and boats for fishing. The
dance hall, tavern, country store and gas station stood where the office and
residence is now. It was THE place to go on a Saturday night!
Ed and Minnie's son, Edward (Bud) worked at the
resort full time as well. Their house was located
behind the lodge.
1940’s Electricity was added to the resort. A cabin was built
for Aunt Ann, now cabin 7 – it was called the “Big Cabin” and had an indoor
bathroom with toilet, sink and a shower!
1945 E.J. and Minnie Schmidt sold Shing Wako Resort to Charles
and Rose Aymar.
1946 Charles and Rose Aymar sold Shing Wako Resort to John and
Genevieve (Jean) McGraw. Mrs. McGraw's brother, Bud May and his wife Wanda lived
and worked at the resort, and lived in cabin 6 in the winter.
1950’s A central bathhouse was constructed with one side for
men and one side for women. Each had a shower, toilet, and sink on a concrete
floor. The building stood where the small red shed is now across from cabin 3,
which is actually a remnant of the bathhouse. Refrigerators replaced the
iceboxes in the cabins. The icehouse became a storage barn and garage. There was
still wood to haul for the heaters in the cabins and wooden boats to clean and
repair. Four “Overnighters” were built near the road for overnight guests. They
had a double bed, electricity, hot plate and wash basin.
1952 John and Genevieve McGraw sold Shing Wako Resort to
Darrell and Dorothy David. A baseball field was constructed across the
road from the resort and many games were played there. The “home” team was called
the “Center Cats” (Center Township).
1960 Darrell and Dorothy David sold Shing Wako Resort to Anfin
and Sonja Blakstvedt.
1961 Anfin and Sonja Blakstvedt sold Shing Wako Resort to
Raymond and Inga Holmstrom. Walter and Frances Merkel were the managers.
Saturday night dances were still the rage at the Shing Wako Lodge and were
advertised in the Brainerd Daily dispatch every Friday throughout the summer.
1966 Shing Wako Lodge burns down - the end of an era. An
owner’s residence is built in its place with the resort office included.
1970’s Indoor bathrooms (toilet only) were built-in to cabins 1
– 6 in the small front porch area.
Resort was sold several times:
1974 — Raymond and Inga Holmstrom sold to Richard and Helene Letsch.
1977 — Richard and Helene Letsch sold to Gordon and Margaret Lehrke.
1979 — Gordon and Margaret Lehrke sold to Roger and Lois Carson and Jon and Marlene
1980 Roger and Lois Carlson, owners, develop four seasonal
campsites and removed five of the day use campsites.
Shing Wako Resort now has seven cabins, fourteen recreational campsites and four
1981 Roger and Lois Carson and Jon and Marlene Wordelman sold
Shing Wako Resort to Gerald and Anna Straub.
1990 Address of the road outside the resort (now County Road 3)
changed from Star Route to HC 87.
Start of a New Era at Shing Wako Resort!
1991 Gerald and Anna Straub sold Shing Wako Resort to Marty
Paradeis. Resort included: seven two-bedroom cabins, some tent camping, thirteen
water and electric campsites and eight seasonal campsites. The bath and shower
houses were still “on top” near cabin 3.
1990’s A modern new shower house with restrooms is constructed at lake
level where cabin 14 is now. Front and back decks are added to cabins 1- 7
along with Cable TV, televison sets and updated electrical. Updates are also
done to the beach and dock to include boat lifts. Seasonal campsites now number
thirteen. Road name changes from HC 87 to County Road 3. Sue joins the resort
2001 Built five new cabins (#s 8 – 12), with #8 being
handicap-accessible, and an asphalt basketball court. Overnight camping is discontinued
and the first website was launched.
2002 Built another cabin, #14 and added an 18’ deluxe fishing
boat to our rental fleet of 14’ boats.
2003 The existing resort house and office was sold and moved to
rural Pine River. A new resort house and office was built in its place, with the
addition of a public laundry facility, restroom and a storm shelter. Two new 20’
pontoons and two double kayaks were added to the resort and paddleboat and
kayaks begin to be included in cabin rental. Charcoal grills were also purchased
for all the cabins.
2004 Cabins are now smoke-free and this was the last summer of
seasonal camping. An additional 2 ˝ acres of vacant land, adjoining the south
side of the resort was purchased. The last “Overnighter” and the two outhouses
near Co Rd 3 come down.
2005 Cabin #6 is sold and moved to Pequot Lakes (near the
American Legion) and six new Reunion Lodges (#s 15 – 20) are built on much of
the new property. A resort workshop/storage building is also built near the
office. A newly designed website is re-launched, shingwako.com, with added
online availability search.
2006 Embarked on the “mini vacation” reservation concept and
the ice house/storage barn/garage is taken down.
2007 Began providing resort-wide, high-speed wireless internet.
2008 Air conditioning is added to cabins #8 – 14. Green
practices are initiated (environmentally-friendly cleaning products) and on-site
massage is now available to resort guests.
2009 County Road 3 (the road in front of the resort) was
widened with 10’ shoulders and turning lanes added. This proved to be a great
improvement for driving, walking, running and biking. The Shing Wako Resort sign
was moved from north of the resort driveway to the south.
2010 A swimming ladder is installed at the end of the dock and
an accessible path is added to the beach area. Wireless internet service
continues to be upgraded for the guests.
2011 White beach loungers with side tables and two single
kayaks are added to the beach area; to the playground, a new sand digger. One of
the three large White Pines (or Shing Wak’s) by the office comes down.
2012 Added Carpet Ball to our playground. It has been very
popular! Launched electronic newsletters for guest (sign up at
shingwako.com) to keep everyone informed on resort changes and other happenings
in the Brainerd Lakes.
Two walking trails were been carved out of the woods "on top" behind Cabin 7 and
near the lake, next to Reunion Lodge 15.
2013 Shing Wako Resort is on
Facebook! We are experiencing one of the coldest and snowiest April's
since we moved to the resort. On April 12 there is still 27" of ice on
the lake and more snow and cold in the forecast. And we continue to
upgrade our wireless internet! Each cabin has not only a picnic table
but newly added stack chairs! 4 for the two bedroom cabins, 6 for the
three bedroom cabins, 8 for the four bedroom cabins, 8 for the 3
bedroom Reunion Lodges and 10 for the 4 bedroom Reunion Lodges.
2014 Winter just wasn't going to give up
this spring! We got a late start but the playground "remodel" was
completed on schedule. Now it is about twice the size with adding a
second deck, tunnel slide and monkey bars. The sand was dug out and
replaced with pea rock as was the area in and around the "big
kids swings" by the lake.
2015 Introduced our new logo!The
name Shing Wako is a derivative of the Ojibwe word,
zhingwaak(oog), for White Pine(s). In the 1930's there were many white
pine in our area and the locals referred to them as Shing Wak's. Our
new logo reflects the white pine, beautiful Lake Edward and our amazing of sunsets!
also be remembered as the year of the July 12 Brainerd/Nisswa
storm! Here is what I posted on Facebook: "Yes we had alot of
storm damage on Sunday night. The winds blew like we never before
experienced. We have not counted the trees that are down, it is
numerous. All our guests were safe in their cabins and have their own
story to tell! One car had tree damage and one of our new pontoons was
damaged. The dock came apart in a few sections. It is amazing that we
never lost power or internet connection! We have had a humbling turn
out of help and want to thank everyone! We have been able to continue
operating with just a few delays here and there. Here is a view from
the road - you cannot see the red cabins."
rental boat fleet has 3 New Bennington
24' Pontoon Boats w/ 50 HP motor, depth finder,
live wells, awning. One each of blue, black and
bronze to help guests tell which one is theirs.
We still offer a 18' deluxe fishing boat w/40HP
and two 14' boats w/15HP. Our beach fleet has
been expanded to include 4 paddle boards! Along
with our two each of double kayaks & single
kayaks, 2 paddle boats (one seats 4 - blue and
one seats 2 - green) and a canoe. The beach
fleet continues to be free with cabin rental!
And a webcam has been installed
near the beach to capture our amazing sunsets!
It can be viewed from our website. We have many
who say they look at it every day!
Our new sign was installed in May, just as our first
guests were arriving!
And over the winter Cabins 8 - 14 and Reunion Lodges
15 - 20 were all reshingled.
With Shing Wako
history about the land and resort, as told by John
D. (Jack) McDonald
Shing Wako Resort, Marty & Sue Paradeis,
Compiled By Kathleen M. Keller
On October 6, 1935, Jack McDonald was
born. He is the son of George Darrel McDonald and
Grace Russell Dunham (Dunham is from her last
marriage). In 1931, Grace Russell was one of five
daughters that inherited the land that included the
property of Shing Wako.
In 1937, Shing Wako
was established as a resort. Growing up with Shing
Wako, Jack remembers what early life was like at the
resort. He remembers playing in the icehouse,
hearing the music and revelry when there used to be
a dance hall and tavern on the property, and he also
remembers when some modern conveniences started
popping up. These are his stories. We are grateful
for his memories and especially that he has passed
them along. We hope you enjoy stepping back in time
with him and learning more about this historic
Many Big Pine Trees
Even now there might be a giant white pine
within sight of present day Shing Wako. When the
resort was built there were many "shingwak's"– the
Ojibwe word for "many big pine trees". These trees
stood, huge and glorious, on both sides of the
unpaved road to Merrifield from Crosslake. This road
is presently County Road 3, which was called "Star
Route" back in the 1940s. Nearly all of them grew on
the land between Lake Edward, on the west side of
this road, and Silver Lake, to the east.
land, that includes Shing Wako, once belonged to
Thomas Russell, my great grandfather on my father's
side. He put up the first building on the property
that was a school in about 1919, out of logs from
timber around the area. He then converted it into a
house in the early 1920s. The house wrapped around
the old school and still stands just west of Silver
Lake. When I last saw the house that had been the
old school, it was 1949. I was probably 13 at the
time. This is when the McGraw’s owned Shing Wako;
they were the 3rd couple to own the resort.
At this time, the Earhardts, who were friends of
ours, lived in the house. Back in 1950, the
community gathered at their house to help put out
the fire Ed Earhardt's grandson, Joey Shankle had
started. He had poured gasoline on the live coals in
the cook stove. He died at the scene. Fortunately,
the fire did not destroy the house and it was
My father, George (Dick) Darrel McDonald, recalled
when his grandfather Tom Russell was the Engineer on
the passenger train in the early 1900s. "Sometimes
my Mother would go to Brainerd on the train and I
was allowed to go along. When we would get to
Merrifield and go out to the tracks to wait for the
train, I would walk forward and be standing where
the engine would stop and Gramp would stick his head
out of the cab window and say "O.K., come on, climb
in here" and I would ride with him. He always let me
blow the whistle for crossings and I really thought
I was a 'Big Shot'. Needless to say, I wanted to
grow up and become an Engineer on a Locomotive…"
For more information about the history of owners
of the land around Shing Wako and the previous
owners of the resort, please see the section, "A
About where the dog kennels
stand today was where the original icehouse stood.
It was built when the resort was built, in 1937. In
the winter, an ice crew would put up the ice in that
house. Usually the local men would organize a crew,
harvest ice from the lakes and sell it to people who
had the means to store it for use in the summer. The
icehouse at Shing was very large, at least it seemed
that way to us kids.
It was half full of
sawdust procured from one of the local sawmills,
such as Marshall Young's mill. That mill was about a
half mile south of the resort, near "turtle pond.”
This pond now is just a grassy slough.
sawdust was moved out gradually as the ice was
uncovered during the summer. When the new ice was
put up the old remaining ice was pulled out and
wasted if there was any left from the summer before,
as by then it was rounded over from partial thawing
and imbedded with sawdust. The new ice was neatly
stacked with about 2 feet of sawdust between the
sides of the ice and the icehouse. The access door
ran from the ground up to the rafters. As the tiers
of ice were piled up, boards were put across the
doorway to hold the insulating sawdust from falling
out. When the house was full, a generous topping of
sawdust was applied.
The icehouse at Shing Wako was special because there
was an ice locker built into the north end of the
building. Ice from the main storage part was slid
down the wooden chute. It was made to get the
100-pound ice cakes out and down so they could be
hauled around to the north end, cut into manageable
chunks and stored in the locker for use or sale.
Ed Schmidt's son Bud did most, if not all, of
the ice handling. Tall and lanky, he worked all the
time. He would walk so fast you couldn't keep up
with him and he didn't say very much. My sister
Arlyne and I would pull our wagon over to the
icehouse then go over to the lodge and store and
tell someone we needed ice. We would usually get
fifty cents worth for about 25 pounds of ice and
wait around till Bud could be located to get our ice
and then we would pull it home.
Dad would buy a big chunk and put it in a sled he
had rigged up full of sawdust. Sawdust is a
wonderful thing to play in when it is hot in the
summer. We would sneak into the icehouse over at
Shing Wako, burrow down in the cool wet sawdust,
plow the sawdust into hills and valleys, cover each
other up and truly enjoy life. We would get it well
imbedded into our clothes and hair and have to
suffer Mother cleaning us up, but it was worth it!
Shing Wako was well known as a
dance hall, tavern, country store and gas station,
as well as a housekeeping resort with a maintained
beach, dock and boats for fishing. The dance hall,
tavern, country store and gas station were built at
the same time as the resort and stood where the
owner's residence now is.
As memory serves me
there were six original cottages at Shing Wako.
These are all still standing, well spaced along the
hill overlooking the lake to the west. A road still
runs along their north side going down to the beach,
docks and landing.
In the early days when we were young, we could
hear the music on the weekends. We lived in the
house that is north of that road right across from
what still is Cabin 1. Mostly I remember the
Peterson sisters, they played the piano and I think
an accordion. There was often a fiddle sawing away
and the sisters sang along. Sometimes we would hear
loud cussing and fighting. It was usually when it
was hot and we had all of our windows open.
Sometimes Dad would go out and holler at people who
got too close to our house with the noise and name
calling. Being well respected in the community, he
was often successful in preserving the peace.
Sometimes he wasn't.
the war, in 1946, the McGraws owned Shing Wako. John
and Jean McGraw had three children, Robert, John Jr.
(called Pug) and Sandra. These children fit nicely
into the ages of our bunch. My older sister Arlyne
frowned on all of us but tolerated us and often had
a hand in our mischief. It was mostly just "easy kid
stuff" – I remember acquiring part of a case of warm
beer, knocking on cabin doors then hiding and
playing in the icehouse. Nothing too bad by today's
Mrs. McGraw's brother Bud May and
his wife Wanda lived and worked at the resort. Like
Bud Schmidt before him, Bud May was the workhorse on
the place. There were wooden boats to clean and
repair and all the cabins needed maintenance, paint,
As I recall, Bud and Wanda moved into one of the
cabins for a while when they were first married. It
was the first time (and last time) I had ever
participated in a "shivaree". Various friends,
relatives and patrons from the tavern silently
gather at the newlyweds cabin (which is now cabin 6)
well after dark. When the time was right a shotgun
was fired and everyone in attendance banged kettles,
yelled and hollered and set up a terrible din. Bud
and Wanda came out in their bedclothes and expressed
their appreciation for our kind presentation.
Fishing and Hunting
Jack's father, Dick McDonald, also had written
down memories of the area around Shing Wako. This
section is dedicated to his memories of the fishing
and hunting that occurred here in the early part of
the 20th century. Like Jack's stories, this section
is in Dick's own words.
"With regards to what fishing was like in those days
I am sure that most persons who read this will not
believe it, but what I write here will not be
fiction, only fact.”
I managed to talk my
stepfather, William H. Dunham, into letting me go
out with him once in awhile. We would leave the dock
a little after daybreak and row around the point
about 1/2mile from the dock and start fishing.
He used two cane poles about 10 feet long and
worked both sides of the boat at the same time. I
fished off the back end with a short pole and in
about 3 hours we would have to come in because the
boat was full of crappies."
"He would then
gut and gill the fish, pack them in chipped ice and
have a little lunch then get another load in the
afternoon. The next day he packed them in barrels,
first a layer of ice, then a layer of fish until he
had two barrels full. He would load them in a wagon
and drive to Merrifield in time to get them on the
train. I believe they went to a market in
Minneapolis or Saint Paul. They brought 6 cents a
Some days he would fish for Northern Pike, then it
was one pole much longer and with heavier line, a
spoon hook baited with a piece of fish cut from the
belly was the only bait he used. He would troll it
over the end of the boat as he rowed along slowly
near the edge of the rushes. About every 50 feet he
would land a fish 4 to 10 pounds, but once in a
while a big one 15 to 20 pounds would latch on. He
usually got his two barrels full in one day.
Hunting was excellent except for deer; there were
very few deer in the area at that time but lots of
wolves. Walter Van Doren who lived on the north end
of Lake Edward killed 30 wolves on the lake one
The wolves for some reason would go
out on the lake in the winter and just sit there.
Walter built an iceboat powered with a gasoline
engine and an airplane propeller (sort of an early
version of a snowmobile). When they spotted a wolf
on the lake they would take after it and could
usually get within gun range before the wolf could
reach shore. However, many of them made it into the
brush before the boys could get in range.
Another method the hunters used to kill wolves in
those days was quite effective. It went this way,
right after a fresh snowfall of from 10 to 14
inches, one man on horseback would follow a fresh
track and would have a cow bell on the horse and the
other man on snowshoes would walk on one side about
100 yards out always on the upwind side of the
track. As the horse plodded along on the track the
man out on the side could hold his position as near
as possible and they would simply stay on the wolf's
trail until he was played out. Eventually he would
lay down to rest and when the hunter on the horse
got too close, he would jump and run always into the
wind. They could not run very fast in the deep,
fresh snow, so many times the hunter out on the side
would get a good shot at the wolf but, of course,
they didn't always get them."
I heard of one
case where a couple of hunters spent four days
following the same wolf before finally getting it. I
think the bounty paid by the state at that time was
about $20.00 and, of course the hide would bring
anywhere from $3.00 to $10.00. If a couple of guys
could get two wolves a week, they were doing pretty
well for those days. Of course we also trapped and
"When the northern duck flight
started late in the fall, they flew through this
area by the thousands. Pass shooting was the big
thing then. One of the best passes in the country
was between Silver and Lake Edwards at the site
occupied by Shing Wako Resort."
Silver Lake there was a long narrow dip with a ridge
on the lakeside where the hunters would be strung
out in the brush there and shooting Bluebills and
Mallards by the hundreds. There were enough empty
cartridges there to fill a good size truck box. Most
of the ducks killed were Bluebills. I was too young
at the time to get in on that kind of shooting. The
ducks continued to fly those same flyways for many
years, but the numbers of ducks dwindled every year
till it was all over by the time I was in my late
20's. [This would have been around 1940]"
As time passed, refrigerators replaced the
iceboxes in the cabins. This was in about 1950. The
icehouse became a storage barn and garage for the
Model A Ford Bug that was used as a tractor at the
resort. There was still wood to haul for the heaters
in the cabins, trash to collect and any number of
chores real or imagined for young boys to need a
The typical Bug was nothing like
today's Volkswagen Beetle. It started as a coupe,
sedan or truck of some kind. The frame was shortened
and a second transmission was mounted behind the
original. Springs were usually removed in favor of
fitted blocks of oak wood and large wheels and tires
were put on the back, along with a short bed of some
kind that provided a place to haul small loads.
This particular Bug was built on a Model A Ford
chassis. It usually had a trailer attached and more
often than not Bud May was working with it from dawn
to dark. Sometimes it had a muffler though my father
would not remember those times. He was convinced
that it was always without one and was ridiculously
load. As time passed, the boys were allowed to drive
the Bug. They went from the lodge to the lake and
back and forth unceasingly, after school and on the
weekends. On good days, I got to ride along.
In the late 40s and early 50s, my Dad had
experience in the iron mines building trestles. He
did commercial work and remodeling. John McGraw
hired Dad's company to build small cabins out along
the road for overnight guests. These four
“overnighters” are no longer standing. (One owner,
Jerry Straub, attempted to move one and it did not
withstand the move.)
My uncle, Floyd Peck, who married Dad's sister Lela,
was a whiz around power saws. He and Dad rigged up
Dad's 12 inch Walker Turner radial arm saw to size
common pine slabs from one of the local saw mills.
They ingeniously grooved the edges to receive an
insert creating a good weather seal as the slabs
were joined together.
A few years later, a
residence was built over on the south side of the
property along the edge of the circle drive
surrounding the central area. The foundation is
still partially there today, but the area is used
for a mulch pile. I remember it as a park. It
originally had enough brush growing in it to hide
little people playing hide and seek. There were all
paths crisscrossing the park and the outhouses were
there facing the cabins. There was a pump for water
there and it seems like there was another pump along
the drive. We had to drive the bug slow around the
circle when people wer¬e in the cabins because of
the noise and the mechanical brakes that didn't work
very well if they worked at all. Going down over the
hill between the resort and our place we went as
fast as the thing would go, which wasn't much.
Electricity came to the resort in about 1940.
Before the cabins had individual bathrooms (which
were installed during the 1970s), the outdoor
toilets were replaced with the central toilets and
showers in the 50s. The building stood in the park
along the west side. Inside there was a well and
pump and a water heater - all the modern