Yesterday, our neighbor up on the Gunflint Trail, Hungry Jack Lodge, had a catastrophic fire. Despite the best efforts of the outstanding Gunflint Trail Fire Department, the main lodge building was a total loss. This is the third time the lodge building has burned, first in 1931, then again in 1972, and now 2008.
Hungry Jack Lodge has a rich history in the area and a direct connection to Sawbill Lodge, our former next door neighbor who went out of business in the ’80s. After the 1931 Hungry Jack fire, a teenager from Chicago, Wilson “Nibs” Arbogust, was hired by the owners to help clean up and reconstruct the lodge building. Although he didn’t actually do any of the log work, Nibs studied the techniques and practiced on his own. On a visit home in January of 1932, Nibs raised the idea with his father, step-mother and siblings that they should start a wilderness lodge in the style of Hungry Jack.
To make a long story short, they did carve Sawbill Lodge out of the wilderness with many, many great stories created and it eventually became one of the premiere resorts in Minnesota. Sawbill Lodge opted to go out of business when the BWCA Wilderness Act was passed in 1978. The Forest Service paid them for the property and returned it to nature. The Sawbill Lodge building was moved to Solbakken Resort in Lutsen where it can be visited today.
Our sympathy and best wishes go out to Forest Parson and his staff for their loss. – Bill