Memories of Rock Lake

Written by Richard Blanding, published in Centennial Issue 1991


My memories of Rock Lake in Holmesville Township are some of the best in the world.  The first experience would go back to about 1930, when I was 10 years old.  My dad, Harry Blanding, and Charlie Buck had leased some land for duck hunting in the SW corner of the lake – I believe the Nelson Family owned the land.  My older brother, Henry, and Carl and John Buck were the usual party, and occasionally I was allowed to go along (although without a gun).  I can still smell the gunpowder and taste the excitement of a boy on his first hunting trip with his dad and older brother.  During the frought of the 1930’s, that bay dried up and the hunting changed.  The Towle family of St. Paul (Famous for their Log Cabin Syrup) owned the pass between Rock and Rice Lake and once or twice every fall, they would invite the Buck and Blanding hunters to have breakfast with them and then hunt the pass.  It was considered one of the best duck passes in Minnesota.

In 1943, my dad, brother, Uncle Hub Hamilton, and myself bought an 18 acre parcel of land next to Woody Johnsons in the NW corner of the lake.  At the time I was in the Army, earning about $150 per month, just married, and without a place to live.  I had a hard time convincing my new bride that a place to hunt ducks was more important than a place to live.  We had excellent hunting for about 25 years after the war.  It was one of the best investments I ever made.

Upon retirement from Blanding’s Department Store, I built a log cabin on the property. Helped to pick out the trees to be cut, peeled the logs, poured the footings, cut the notches, and did about 90% of the work by myself.  It was a major project for someone as unskilled in building as I was, but it turned out very well.

When my 3 daughters were growing up, we had picnics, overnights, prom parties, and tree-planting expeditions with the Sunday School Class, the Camp Fire groups, and their classmates.  All the pine trees on the land have been planted since 1946.

To me, Rock Lake has meant friendship, good hunting, excellent fishing, wild rice, bird watching, beautiful maple trees and solitude.  We even have our own pair of loons who come back each year to nest on the island in the front of the cabin.  It is a Utopia that I wouldn’t trade for any place else on earth.