Historic Beaver Bay Fish House Faces Questionable Future

By KBJR News 1

July 31, 2013 Updated Jul 31, 2013 at 6:26 PM CDT

Beaver Bay, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Third Generation Beaver Bay fisherman, 86–year–old Martin "Mickey" Lorntson, was named after his grandfather—one of the first fishermen to call the tiny North Shore town home, in 1896.

Born in Two Harbors, Lorntson has also called the town home since 1927.

"That's 86 years and counting," said Lorntson, sitting on the rocky beach in front of a decades-old wooden structure.

Wanting to follow in his father's footsteps, Lorntson quit school to fish for Herring, using the very same bay on which sits a fish house built by his bloodline.

The original structure was built by his grandfather in 1898, and he began his first year of Herring fishing in 1943.

"It was not this building. That winter we had a bad storm and it demolished it—floating logs everywhere," said Lorntson, sitting next to what he called an "original piece" of lumber from the 1898 structure that was half-buried in sand.

Lorntson's father and uncle then rebuilt the building, "exactly like that, just like that, it hasn't changed."

In 1974, six years after Lorntson's father retired from fishing, the house went under the ownership of Bruce and Bonnie Anderson.

The land on which it sits, however, is actually owned by the Beaver Bay Club, a group of wealthy Twin Cities based families who've spent their summers there since 1926. They purchased most of the shoreline that fisherman had squatted on, and built fish houses upon, since day one.

"So this was the appeasement. They said, 'we'll give you this piece of property here, and you can use it for fishing, as long as there's somebody who wants to fish from it,'" said Lorntson.

The last active year for the fish house was 2004, and now, the Andersons and Beaver Bay Club are taking matters to court, and the Andersons are facing eviction.

"The fish house is ours, but it's on their land, and it has been all these years. And we're not looking to be squatters, or have a free ride. We're looking to be able to keep the fish house there with a reasonable settlement," said Bruce Anderson, his wife alongside.

The case won't be heard again until August 22nd, but for now, Lorntson says he's hopeful the fish house's history will ensure its future.

"I would like to see somebody using it to fish. I'd like to see the fishing continue the way it did, but there's nobody to do it," added Lorntson.

...a fish house that, like this 3rd generation Beaver Bay native, are only becoming rarer.

Our calls to request a comment from the law firm representing the Beaver Bay Club were not returned by news time.

- Posted to the web by Billy Wagness