Dave Distler writes on the history of Long Lake | News, Sports, Jobs
ALPENA – Anyone with a connection to Long Lake will enjoy learning more about its history in Dave Distler’s book, “The Lost Resorts and Cottages of Long Lake”.
Released earlier this year, the 52-page full-color coffee table book tells the story of more than 50 resorts and cabins, with nearly 200 rare and historic images dating from 1881 to the present day.
Many of these cabins and resorts are no longer in operation, but a few are, including The Parker House and Lorien Resort.
“There was very little writing on Long Lake,” he said. “I really had to start from scratch.
He said the lake was colonized around four different times.
“The first was the era of agriculture and primitive camps, and it sort of ended around 1881,” Distler noted. “After the civil war a lot of people started coming there. There was wood and all its history around the Alpena region.
He said, as money started to flow to Alpena during the Wood Age, “we entered another era, which is what I call the ‘The Victorian Resort’ era, circa 1881. The first complex was Maple House, and this was started by the McDonald brothers.
“It was almost like a spa, with very elaborate hotels,” said Distler. “There were five or six big hotels on the southwest side of the lake. Where Maple Grove Road now stands, this is where it all was. There was also a country club with a nine hole golf course in the same location.
He said it was surprising that the lake has so much history and quite expensive places.
“It was a big deal,” he said. “Alpena’s social goal at that time was to get out, about seven miles, from Long Lake Road, the country club and those resorts.”
He said John Beck, who owned Beck’s Brewery downtown, was a major owner of some of the resorts.
“He was quite a character,” Distler said. “I could go on talking about him forever. He was quite an entrepreneur and had a pretty colorful history. “
The third era came around 1930, which he called the “Great Depression” era.
“When the economy collapsed during the Great Depression, that’s when it turned into what I call the era of ‘Mom and Pop’ resorts and cabins.” , said Distler. “That’s when the cabins came into play.”
Each epoch lasted about 30 years, explained Distler.
Thus, “Mom and Pop” lasted until about 1960, when private chalets took over.
In addition to Lorien (formerly known at Burton’s Colonial Village, established by Ted and Donna Burton in 1959) and Parker House (circa 1940s), he said other resorts also include Sandy Beach Resort and Cottages (circa 1940s). 1930 by the Davy family out of Dayton, Ohio), now run by Bernie Wagner. The other complexes still in operation are Dove’s Resort, Neumann’s Loafers Retreat and Opechee’s Store and Cottages.
“Opechee means ‘robin’ in Ojibwe,” Distler noted.
He added that Maple Grove Hotel, or Maple House, had a casino there, “at the time.”
Distler visited Alpena, but he’s from Indianapolis.
“We bought a property on the lake about four years ago,” said Distler. “And, I was in a bookstore in Alpena and I saw a book called“ The Vintage Resorts of Grand Lake ”. So it got me thinking, “I’m going to get some information on Long Lake … and I found out that there was really nothing that had been put in place.”
So he decided to do some research and compile a book on some of the history of Long Lake.
“Janet Young is the author of the book on Grand Lake,” he said. “And I guess there were a few books on it, which sparked my interest in actually putting something together.”
He started researching the book around June 2020 and finished the book in March 2021.
This is Distler’s fourth book, but the first on Long Lake.
His previous books are fiction and non-fiction.
Distler just retired about a year ago.
“The search for this book began around the time I was preparing to retire,” said Distler, who visits Long Lake in the summer. “I knew I would have free time and wanted to keep busy.
He and his wife Ellen bought the property on Long Lake in 2017.
“I didn’t know anything about northeast Michigan or Alpena,” Distler said. “And I was looking for a waterfront property, from Minnesota to Wisconsin to Michigan, and my preference was in Michigan because it’s closer to Indianapolis by car. And I found a cottage on a lake that was a pretty good price, that was first listed in 2016, and kept looking at it, and eventually the price dropped significantly in 2017, and I bought it.
He retired after working in electronics sales and engineering / marketing.
The book is available from Parallel 45 Books & Gifts in Alpena, Long Lake Market, and Long Lake Campground.
“The first 100 copies sold out in six days,” said Distler. These were sold online, but he wanted to keep local sales. “It helps the local economy and it helps the local people. “
He’s working on a second volume, which will include more than 30 other cabins and resorts. This second volume is expected to be released in early 2022, he said.
“It’s kind of a nice book to have when visitors arrive because they can flip through it really quickly,” Distler said of the historic table book rich in images and colors.
He said the hardcover costs about $ 40 and the softcover about $ 30.
For more information, visit longlakebook.com.