Red Willow Lake

It has been said that Minnesota has 10,000 lakes and North Dakota 10.

Although Red Willow Lake in northwest Griggs County was not identified as a stopping-off place for transcontinental travelers in the nineteenth century, it was frequented by Indians before that time.  Several mounds are located near the lake.

Homesteaders took up land near the lake in the early '80s, and it quickly became a favorite recreation area for fishers, hunters, campers and picnickers.  The annual Fourth of July dance is now a tradition.  The first such dance was held in 1885.

Two men who saw the possibilities in a summer resort were Maynard Crane and Robert Cowan of Cooperstown.  Crane was in the lumber business and Cowan was Northern Pacific depot agent.  Mr. Crane owned nearly a thousand acres of land south and west of the lake.  He furnished lumber for Cowan to build, in 1900, the farmhouse on Section 13-148-61, south of the lake, which still stands, home of the present owners, Mr. and Mrs. William Haines.

Fred G. Lewis managed the resort in the 1920's, when Cowan moved back to Cooperstown.  In 1928, under Mr. Lewis' supervision, the foundation for the 100' x 60' pavilion was laid with lumber furnished by Mr. Crane.  The walls and roof were not finished for six years.  Dances were held once a week in the summer on the open floor, and gates surrounded the foundation.  Tickets were sold for ten cents a dance.

In 1929, T. Ledoux Cowan, son of Robert, settled on the lake farm and remained there 23 years.  Although he managed the resort for 17 years, his main occupation was farming.  He bought his father's share in the business and by 1946 owned controlling interest, with Mr. Crane owning the remaining 49 per cent.

Mr. and Mrs. William Haines bought the resort in 1946, and the farm in 1951.  In 1946 privately owned cottages numbered 19.  There are now more than eighty.

Red Willow Resort has one of the most popular baseball diamonds in North Dakota, with baseball and softball games scheduled several times a week all summer long.

There are weekly dances in the pavilion, as well as roller-skating.

Mr. Haines in 1963 bought a buffalo bull and three cows, which were the start of a herd, which now numbers more than 20.

Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976 page 12

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