Welcome to the Lindbergh Lake Lodge Blog.
I am Wendy Drasdo. My Husband Jim and I, along with Harry and Cricket Wilson, purchased the Lindbergh Lake Lodge from the Ukrainatz family at the end of July in 2002.
We visited the Lodge on July 4th, 2002 and knew we had stumbled upon a piece of paradise. As we were leaving, I took a quick snapshot from the car window because I always wanted to have this place in my memory. Although we had not planned on purchasing a place in Montana, we had fallen under the spell of Lindbergh Lake. That evening, we decided to follow our hearts and the next day we told the Wilson’s we would join them as partners in the Lindbergh Lake Lodge.
One of the bonus treasures when we purchased the lodge was a box of memories. It is like opening a box of someones family photos and feeling like you want to return them in someway. So hopefully this will be a way to give back to the community and to those whose memories are captured in these photographs. All I ask in return is that you help me make this blog better, by sharing your memories or identifying people in the photographs.
I will start with a concise history written by Lois Ukrainetz for the Seeley Swan Pathfinder dated Thursday, August 11, 1998
I give this to you verbatim as I will do with every article in the collection
Down Memory Lane
Current owners compile Lindbergh Lodge History
by Lois Ukrainetz
(Editor’s note: Lois Ukrainetz compiled the following history of the lodge after talking with Sharon Hickey MacQuarrie and her mother, Margaret, and from a previous visit with John Stark.)
The lodge was built in 1929 by “Cap” Eli Laird. He was called “Cap” as he had previously been Captain of the big steamer which plowed up from Couer d’Alene to St. Maries and the large mills owned by Fred Herrick. The lodge is not uniform in construction as “Cap” would be in the mountains with a hunting group leaving his wife in charge and she would catch crews smoking or slacking off and she would fire the whole crew and the next crew would do things differently. The crews camped on the other side of the river. You will notice the logs in the lodge are chipped and this is because the logs were dark and in chipping them they gave more light.
John Stark built all the furniture in the lodge and John’s wife’s brother did the leather (elk hide) work on the davenports. “Cap” and John built the large “Paul Bunyan” table in the front yard of the lodge and it was hauled into the lodge by horses. The Piano was hauled in on the old dirt road by horses and John Stark told me that there were many, many dances here with someone on the piano and always someone on the fiddle.
The cabin later called “Indian Echo” was the first built and “Cap” and his wife Tyne stayed in the loft there while the lodge was being built and then later lived in the River Cabin. The Hydroelectric system was in the middle of the river by this cabin. “Indian Echo” was used as the dining hall and had the history of the west written around the windows by Shorty Shope. Also in this cabin were many pictures of Indian Chiefs and other beautiful and valuable Indian artifacts. (This cabin burned to the ground December 31, 1978. It was then owned by Bob and Meta Binley who then rebuilt on the same spot and also named the new cabin “Indian Echo”.)
“Cap” was very protective of the area and only sold one parcel of land across the river and that was to Dr. Hawkins. There was a small walking bridge built across the river in the early days and this was later rebuilt by Dick Hickey.
“Cap’s” sense of humor was a drawing card for the lodge. He would ask visitors if they’ve been to “Triple Iron Springs” and direct them to the location where they would find three bed springs. He had a stuffed blue bird with the head backwards and he told everyone that most birds wanted to see where they were going but this one wanted to see where he’d been. He had a big bowl shaped container (still on the porch) full of large rocks and he told everyone that the rocks were Paul Bunyan’s kidney stones.
In 1945 the lodge was sold to Dick and Margaret Hickey. They built the cabin across the river, now Ruth and John Fitzgerald’s and also several other cabins.
When Hickey’s purchased the Lodge Mrs. Laird wrote to customers telling them she was selling but things would go on in the same manner with the new owners and they lost no customers in the change of hands.
In those days prices for a week’s stay at the lodge was $75. This was for everything, including three meals a day and entertainment. It was extra if a pack trip was to be included. The Hickeys had cooks for meals in the Dinning Hall but on the pack trips Margaret would go along and cook.
Visitors were often well known people including a millionaire from Texas who would bring his own staff.
Many delicious barbecues were held down by the river where they had beautiful log tables set up. Sometimes they would have as many as fifty people but had large pots and a very large frying pan to cook up meals in.
The area around the main lodge was a large porch and on the Swan River side were cots and chairs, etc., so guests could visit and sit and look outside. Across the front were chairs and a swing and in the back area and along the other side were the “Paul Bunyan” items and a little country store with a showcase showing Indian moccasins, stationary, western and home made items. Curtains in that area were buckskin and rolled paper made by rolling magazine pages around a knitting needle and dipping into shellac. Some of these are still there. A caretaker’s apartment was built along the Swan River side of the lodge in 1955.
Our family purchased the Lodge in 1978. All of the log furniture that you see was here at that time but only a few of the pictures on the walls. Each bed has a homemade quilt made by Tyne Laird and we have many beautiful napkins with the Diamond L Bar brand on them, also made by Tyne Laird.
The bottles on the shelves were either designed by my husband or purchased by him and for about 12 years before moving to Lindbergh Lake he was the “idea man” and designer of liquor decanters for two large distilleries.
Our son, Ron, has his art studio in one area of the old porch and, of course, everything in that area is his. He and my husband built the studio.
Our family consists of four children and five grandchildren and we all dearly love this Lodge and the people in the community.
The following are previous owners of the lodge and I believe I am fairly accurate on the dates: Laird: 1929-1945, Hickey: 1945-1968, Norris: 1968-1973, Schmarr: 1972-1974, Carlson: 1974-1978, Ukrainetz: 1978-present.
I hope you enjoy this journey with me and I look forward to your comments.