Historic Resorts 2016 - Passport in Time

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Wisconsin - Chequamegon-Nicolet NF
Closed! Historic Resorts Oral History Project, Part II

5226 by USDA Forest Service
Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center

June 20-24, 2016

Must commit to full session

Join us for another Passport in Time project at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland! This year, our mission will be to continue recording the history of well-established, century-plus-old resorts in northern Wisconsin. A good number of the resorts in this region have served long runs as family vacation getaways, having been some of the first established at a time when vacationers travelled north on railroads to the area known as Wisconsin's Northwoods for annual “rites of passage.” With the invention of the automobile and subsequent construction of rustic roads, the influx of vacationers boomed ever more as a new frontier opened. The Northwoods offered a place of respite, a get-away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life where they could spend quality time with family and reconnect with nature. A few enterprising individuals saw an opportunity, and began family-owned resorts to serve this growing tourist industry. As the resorts grew and flourished, so too did the families that operated them.

This is the second oral history project focused on these resorts. Our undertakings in 2013 produced some very interesting results. For instance, a major motion picture produced and directed by a famous Hollywood celebrity, was proposed to take place at one of the resorts in the Namakagon Lakes area, according to the daughter who was interviewed.  A disagreement ensued between the resort owner and the movie director/producer and the location was moved suddenly. During another interview, the widow of the former owner of The Little Bohemia provided a sworn affidavit of her husband’s accounts of the John Dillinger/Baby Face Nelson shootout with the FBI. Later in the project we also interviewed a surviving family member whose parents owned the Voss’ Birchwood Lodge where the FBI was holed up to stakeout Dillinger! As you can see, we got some very real stories! Needless to say, we are hoping this year’s round of interviews will yield as much or more!

So, once again, our oral history project will serve to collect the unique and intriguing stories from members of the enterprising families before they are lost forever. Participants will start out with a “course” or refresher in oral history techniques and theory. Then, equipped with these skills, we will fan out to interview resort owners in the Hayward Lakes area. Interview subjects during the project will include specific family histories and insights on families’ respective operational changes, significant events, and famous guests. All of our recorded data will be transcribed and accessioned into the Wisconsin Historical Society's collections. Recording equipment will be provided, however participants are welcome to bring their own equipment and, if preferred, may wish to include a digital camera in their “kits.” Our projects are a great success, and always prove to be very fascinating. We hope you’ll join us this summer for another foray into Wisconsin’s historic past!

Number of openings: 12

Special skills: Must have good writing skills and be able to adapt to schedule changes on short notice; good communications skills helpful for conducting oral history interviews; oral history interviewing and transcription skills preferred, but not required

Minimum age: 18 years old

Facilities: Host Site #1: Namakagon Township in the Hayward Lakes Area boasts a wide variety of resorts, hotels/motels; county, state, and federal campgrounds; restaurants, and a wide range of other amenities; facilities vary and fees may apply; Host Site #2: Ashland and Washburn are also full-service communities with hotels/motels, B&Bs, restaurants, and a full range of other amenities, including camping at city-owned campgrounds; again facilities vary, and fees may apply; volunteers responsible for own lodging, food, water, and daily transportation

Nearest towns: Host Site #1: Project based in Township of Namakagon; Hayward, 20 miles; Cable, ~20 miles; Host Site #2: Project based in Ashland; Washburn, 6 miles; Iron River, 23 miles
Applications due: Filled
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