Angler's Isle dates back to the resort building era of the early 1900's, when people from all over began discovering the wonders of the Cisco Chain and surrounding area.

Image of visitors enjoying an old slide into the lake at Weewauncha Lodge.

 

 

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About Angler’s Isle > History

The Early Years

The Early Years: image of canoes at Angler's Isle Northwoods Resort. The beautiful country surrounding the Cisco Chain of Lakes remained largely uninhabited for centuries. Settlers explored the area as early as the 1600s, and the Chippewa Indians came through annually to trap fish for winter food and bait, but permanent villages were not established. As the logging industry took hold in the late 1800's, the first railroads came to the area and a few logging camps were built on the Chain.

As the peak logging era began to subside, the Delano brothers built a small settlement on Mamie Lake and started to fish, hunt and trap wild game for shipment to Chicago. In 1896, Charles Bent bought the Delano property and established Bent’s Camp for sports fishing and hunting. Brother Horace Bent then built Camp Tenderfoot on Tenderfoot Lake, and a third Bent started his own camp on Fishhawk Lake. As early guests came to know the natural beauty of the area, a handful of other resorts, summer homes and cottages were built on the Cisco Chain using logs, lumber and other building materials from local saw mills. These resorts of the early 1900’s prospered, yet there were relatively few permanent inhabitants of the Chain in those days.

 

The Early Years: image of Frank Ketcham's prized propeller driven sled .Early guests of Bent’s Camp included Frank and Eleanor Ketcham. In about 1919, the Ketchams purchased land east of Bent’s and built a lodge and other facilities on an island just off the mainland. Their island camp was known as “Wits End” in those early years and eventually as the “Weewaunchu Lodge.” The Ketchams shared their great enthusiasm for the outdoors with family members and friends over the years; their guests taking part in boating, fishing, swimming, hunting, hiking and other adventures throughout the seasons. A run down the large water slide was an exhilarating way to plunge into the cool lake water on summer days. Fishing expeditions left from the docks in early morning, and the day’s catch cooked over campfires in the evening. Winter days were spent on snow shoes and cross-country skis, ice fishing, or racing Frank Ketcham’s motorized sled “Schuss” across the frozen lakes. The lodge fireplace provided a warm gathering place during those cold winter nights.

The Ketchams added a wet boathouse in the early 1930’s, with boat stalls and work area below and living quarters above. It remains adjacent the Weewaunchu Lodge today, both structures still in terrific condition. A long footbridge was built from the mainland and across the marsh to the island. Electricity was provided to the island when it came to the area in the early 1950s.

The Corporate Retreat Era: image of boaters at Anglers Isle Northwoods Resort.The Corporate Retreat Era

In 1954, the property was purchased by the Crane Packing Company, a Chicago-based manufacturer of mechanical packing and gaskets currently doing business internationally as John Crane, Inc. For nearly forty years, Crane operated the resort as a retreat for its executives, employees, customers and business partners. A large guest cabin was added in the late 1950’s and some small cabins in the early 1980’s.

Crane’s VIP guests were treated to fine accommodations and hearty meals prepared by the camp’s full-time chef. Professional guides arrived at the docks at sunrise for a day of fishing; water foul and deer hunting excursions left from camp in the Fall. Many business relationships and friendships were surely formed as fish stories, shop talk, and perhaps a few cocktails were shared around the evening camp fires of those years.

 


The Modern Era: image of Angler's Isle Northwoods Resort from Lake Mamie.The Modern Era

After several decades of fine stewardship, Crane Packing put the island up for sale in 1994. Peg and Mike Hammes, frequent visitors to the Land O’ Lakes area, were curious and scheduled a viewing. Peg had a particular fondness for the charm and character of older properties. Mike, however, was more interested in finding a modern vacation home and toured the property only reluctantly. Afterwards, the couple sat down at a local restaurant. Braced for disappointment, Peg asked “well … what do you think?” Mike’s emphatic response – “I love it!” And so the Weewaunchu Lodge found its next owners and returned to its roots as a family compound.

The Hammes family enjoyed their frequent gatherings on the island immensely, and made many great memories there. Peg and Mike felt that their Northwoods jewel should be shared, and so began occasionally renting to other large families. Word spread quickly, and soon companies were calling to reserve the camp for clients and for corporate events. The island became especially popular for family reunions.

The Hammes family managed the property carefully, made renovations to protect the original structures, and added more modern conveniences. In 2001, a lovely log home was constructed on the mainland.

As the family began to relocate to other areas of the country, Peg and Mike eventually decided to find a new owner. The property was purchased in October 2007 by the present owners, brothers Tom and Tim Maloney and their wives Julie and Sue. We intend to continue to carefully maintain the property, while making it more available to the public. And so the next chapter in the history of this place will be written largely by our guests.

 


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