In the late 1880s, entrepreneurs such as John Mann took advantage of the availability of cheap cutover lands, dotted with glacial lakes, to create rustic resorts. In his brochures for the Manitowish Lodge (as it was called then), Mann described the area as “virgin forest,” although it was a second-growth forest of birch and aspen planted in clearings by the State Board of Forestry. In 1911 the agency established a state tree nursery on cutover land on Trout Lake’s north shore. By 1925, these woods had become sufficiently dense for the state to designate the lands around the lake as Northern Highland State Forest. Around 1913, Dan Cardinal acquired and renamed the resort. He expanded the retreat from two main buildings and seven cottages to nineteen cottages across the lake frontage. Each cottage is constructed of vertical logs with the bark still attached and includes rustic stone fireplaces and screened porches. Fire destroyed the original lodge in the 1940s. Like that lodge, the replacement has log walls, inside and out. In the dining room, walls of glazed French doors offer lake views.
Around the cove, Conrad Jesse Coon founded Camp Franklin, later renamed Coon’s Franklin Lodge, in 1893. Its peeled-log siding, with plaster daubing in the chinks, or gaps, evokes the pioneer past. A cross-gabled roof with gabled dormers covers the two-story main block, as well as a one-and-a-half-story wing at the rear. The building housed the office, a sitting room, and a dining hall, with guest rooms upstairs. Log cabins provided additional guest quarters. Coon’s clientele consisted largely of Chicago’s wealthiest residents. Descendants of those families still return to the resort throughout the summer months.