Lake Poinsett Nostalgia

Photo Challenge

What kinds of experiences stir emotions for the past within you?

Lake Poinsett Nostalgia

The word that was suggested for the one-word prompt recently was nostalgia. It was a photo challenge, but the photos I’m using here are not current. The beautiful lake named Lake Poinsett in northeastern South Dakota is where I will take you on my nostalgia trip. I was born in 1940 and grew up witnessing many changes at the lake. With this post, I hope to take a short trip back down memory lane and recall different things about Lake Poinsett. It has seen dramatic changes in usage, population, residences, year around homes, food, drink, bait and tackle places and a multitude of water level changes.

We lived on a farm less than a mile south of the lake, our parents were Frank and Frances Olson. A lot of time was spent either fishing or swimming in our lives. Our great uncle Simon Hoel built a stone house on the hill just east of the park in 1885, part of it still stands. My grandfather Andrew Olson helped him farm the land.


There was virgin prairie grass for a mile along the south shore of the lake. Simon and my grandfather cut hay from it for forty years. There is a beautiful state park on that land today, trees and campgrounds everywhere.

There were few original trees, mostly growing along the shoreline. A wagon trail can still be seen in places, it went to the east boundary fence and on for another mile to the Hendrickson farm, what is now Runia’s farm. There were no homes or cabins on any of that land.

Just to the west of the State Park property, there was a very lively, noisy dance hall named Smith’s place. It flourished  in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was a very lively dance hall, where many big name bands played as they traveled through this area. We knew Charlie Smith the owner and his family very well. Their daughter babysit the three Olson boys on occasion.Karlton, Harlan, and Leland. My brother Harlan was a banker, writer, and collector of artifacts who helped start the Museum at the state park entrance. Harlan loved every minute of it, even the many volunteer hours. He passed away on March 8, 2016. I can see him searching for artifacts on old Heavenly terrain now. I would imagine there are some very nice artifacts to be found near those streets of gold.

Smith’s dance hall and the property was all sold to the Methodist Church, they may have become the first church to have a beer license. The original dance hall building still stands on that stretch of shoreline. Today it is used as a dining hall, that says something for old-time construction.

It was then purchased by Russ Weiland and his wife who operated it for many years. Russ was possibly the original Evinrude Johnson dealer in this part of the country. His daughter and son-in-law relocated Weiland Marine, which is now on Highway 81. The original dance hall building still


Lake Poinsett 1920's.jpg


Arlington Beach, the next place west was run by a lady named Ann Oburn. This picture is of the Lake Poinsett water slide in the 1920’s. I think it was located at Arlington Beach, as far as I can tell from looking at the Hills and the trees in the background. I will be glad to edit this story and change the location if it is wrong. Ann Oburn had a few rental cabins, cafe and bait house. West from there were only two or three houses until you got to the little hill top farm with the goats. There were only two cabins between there and Mundt’s Resort. They had several small cabins that they rented out. There was a farm between Mundt’s resort and what is now Pier 81.

There was another dance hall on Highway 81 just north of the corner by the Poinsett Cemetery, next to Ann Engal’s Place.  Ernie Edwards moved a building to the lake and started Edwards resort, possibly in the late 40s early 50s. Then on the west side of the lake there was a resort called Sportsmans Lodge, it burned down. A very long large building with a restaurant, I believe they also had cabins and rooms in the lodge that they rented out.What is now Lakeview Resort was a small resort opened by Ole Mikelmier. It later became Fish Haven, home of the famous Carp Sandwich, then Lakeview point there were two homes north of there.

The Grape Farm and no homes until the first one was built right on the point in the 1950s. From there North to Saarinen’s the state purchase part of the shoreline and later sold Lots to private owners. From Saarainen’s Point North there were a few homes because it was close to the highway.

Nitteberg’s Resort was just east of the Stonebridge. That road washed out west of the bridge in the spring of 1969 as flood waters came in from the river and Dry Lake. Nitteberg’s must have had a couple dozen summer cabins that they rented out. They also had some carnival rides in the summer months and afternoon roller skating in the dance hall. The dance hall was built over the lake at one time, but ice damage made them move it back to shore. It was a family run business.The brothers John and Clair maintained most jukeboxes, pinball and other game machines in a large area.

When you went east from Nittebergs, there were only one or two houses, the one right below the hill was named ‘The Mouse Turd Inn’. The resort on top of the hill was known as Jim Bagley’s place. They also had a café, fishing equipment, and bait. The name was changed to the Hilltop Resort later when owned by Louie Moralies and his family.

Just down the hill east from the hilltop resort, there were three or four homes before you got to Hammers pasture and to the outlet of Lake Poinsett, that led to Starks Bridge where gates were installed. There have been several fish winterkill years when oxygen in the lake got so low most of the fish died. There has been dead fish in windrows around the lake. The worst spring brought out the National Guard with front-end loaders, trucks and lots of shovels.

The Bakke farm and Cemetery took up most of the east shore. Two home were on the hill overlooking Prestrude’s Landing. Goulds opened a beer and bait place there in the late forties but it didn’t last. The next mile of shoreline was only recently developed by the Hansen family. Going south from the Hansen development to Hendricksons  or Runia’s there was two cabins.

This has been a rather selfish nostalgic trip around Lake Poinsett. I’m really to young to have nostalgia for the water slide or for the swimming attire. So actually I feel a lot younger by taking this trip back just a few years before my time. I thought I would like to share these memories of Lake Poinsett while I’m still able to share them.The changes at Lake Poinsett are hard to imagine, if you didn’t witness them. The number of very large homes today must reflect great prosperity in the country?

At night the lake was darker than pitch, this was in 1945, before REA, no all night lights, no lights period. We played cards with light from a kerosens lamp. The country nights were a whole lot darker, the small glow in the sky to the west, was Lake Norden’s lights, to the east was Estelline. You could barely make out a tiny glow for Brookings, that was a long ways off. Nights were a bonus for ghosts and goblins in those days.  Can you imagine going back to live in those times?

Simon and Torsten
NOVEMBER 15, 2016 / LELAND OLSON HOEL / EDITbeach-bunnies

Swimming attire has gone from one extreme to another throughout the centuries. In classical antiquity swimming and bathing were done naked. The swimming suits here from the 1920’s seem a wee bit extreme, under exposed skin I would say. Now close to 100 years later we saw, peered, our way through the teeny polka dot bikini era, we are almost back to swimming in the nude again.

What goes around comes around, with nostalgia or Murphy’s Law.


9 thoughts on “Lake Poinsett Nostalgia

  1. And, our paths cross again, Leland, as I was a counselor at the Methodist camp held at Lake Poinsett and ate in that very dance hall turned dining hall!!! Loved your history of the lake and environs.


  2. “We lived on a farm less than a mile south of the lake. So we spent a lot of time either fishing or swimming in our lives. Our great uncle Simon Hoel built a stone house on the hill just east of the park. My grandfather Andrew Olson helped him farm the land.” Sounds like a great place to have grown up!!!


  3. Goodness sake, Leland, where have you been? Of course, I have not been your way so? Guess you done scratched me off memory land. lol Your posts are great! I enjoy reading them.

    I have come a long ways since we met. This 2017 Father is doing amazing things with and for yours truly. Check it all out in, I miss you. Keep in touch! Much love, thiaBasilia. 🙂


    • Dear thia Basilia, I have been to visit you a few times and I am surprised at all the glitz and glamour I have found. Father has made you a expert at setting up professional looking blog sites. You’ve done a great job at reorganizing and having an orderly system. One thing for sure, the word never changes but your ability to catch our eye changed dramatically! Keep up your good work, keep up your faithful commitment to the Father. I wish you all the best and a blessed year in 2017. I keep trying to learn, plugging away, a little slower each day through.The grace of the Father sustains me each day. I can continue to give him all the praise and glory for what I can do. Leland


      • O but Father is good to this ‘goofy’ child of His. You are just one year younger than me but! In good sense? You are tenfold older than yours truly. I will post your comment with your link and see what happens. Would you benefit or? Will it be for my benefit. O me, O mine! Motives, motives, motives! Keep in touch! Much love, thiaB. 🙂


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