How Long Lost Lake Got Its Name

By Roger Houglum

My uncle, Dan Houglum, was a long time resident of Long Lost Lake (LLL) starting in 1941. He lived on the lake off and on up to the 1950’s and was a permanent resident during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Whenever Dan and I would get together he would tell me the story of how LLL was named. I visited with him about a month before he died. He pointed his finger at me and said, “Don’t you forget how this lake was named.” In August 1997 the LLL Newsletter published an interview that Jim Svobodny had with Dan. At that time Dan told this same story.

My first experience at the lake was in 1946. My parents would come here to visit Albert Leverson at his sawmill. My other uncle Orfield would take some of the neighbor kids and me fishing on this lake from 1947 to 1953. The only names for the lake that I can recall are “lake up in the deer woods” or “the lake by Leverson’s.” I started hunting with “old timers” around the area in 1959. Many of them had been in the area as early as 1928. They always referred to the lake as Long Lake.

The story my uncle told me was that there were two Indians who worked for Albert Leverson during the 1940’s. One was named Joe Nikabone and the other Ely Emery. Ely had only one arm. He was a friend of the “old timers” that I had started hunting with. In fact Joe and Ely had hunted with many of them.

One fall Ely disappeared. He was found the next spring, floating in the lake. His friends said that he would trap during the fall and that he carried all his traps under his coat. So the weight of the traps probably pulled him under if he had broken through the ice. So this past winter I decided to see if I could come up with some information about Ely. I went to the county recorder’s office and was able to locate Ely Emery’s death certificate. It said Barney Ely Emery drowned November 1948?, was born in 1891. It stated that he drowned while hunting on Long Lake and was buried in Detroit Lakes on June 16, 1949, and was signed by the Becker County Coroner.

I took this information to the Clearwater Historical Society. Camera helped me search the records. We were unable to find any reference to his death in the Bagley papers. Camera told me that since the Becker County Coroner was in charge I should go to Becker County for information. When I did this I found a newspaper article dated June 9, 1949. Ely had been found floating in Long Lake by two turtle fisherman from Ponsford. Ely had been considered missing for 7 months and no one had known that he had drowned until he was found floating in the lake. So he was “lost” for 7 months. According to Dan and my other uncle Orfield, he was found floating on the north end of the lake. Orfield recalls that he was found on the east side of the lake.

The following is the newspaper article concerning the death of Ely.


Recover Body of Drowning Victim

The body of Barney Emery, Mahnomen County resident missing for 7 months was found floating on the water at Long Lake Monday afternoon. Long Lake is located 15 miles north of Ponsford.

Emery, believed to be about 57 years of age, apparently was drowned last November when he was either trapping or hunting. A trap was still in one of the pockets of his pants when the body was found.

The body was seen by John Hwan of Ponsford and a companion (sic) as they were fishing for turtles Monday afternoon. They notified county authorities.

The body was brought to Detroit Lakes and burial made in Oakgrove Cemetery.

According to John Nieinkopft, Becker County Deputy Sheriff, Emery had formally lived at Twin Lakes in Mahnomen County.


After that the north end of the lake became known as Lost Lake and the south end was called Long Lake. Note that during these years the water level was much lower than it is now. Thus there were 2 or 3 lakes depending upon the water level. Local residents referred to the southeast part of the lake as Bass Lake.

I was able to find some maps dating back to the 1920’s and later ones from the 1970’s. The early maps called it Long Lake. One map in the 1960’s called it Lost Lake. Maps from the 1970’s called it Long Lost Lake. I contacted the DNR and spoke with Glen Yaker. He told me that when the DNR mapped an area they would name the lakes according to the information local residents gave them.

This then is the story Dan told me. As the water kept rising Long Lake and Lost Lake became one, hence the combined name Long Lost Lake. This took place some time in the 1960’s or early 1970’s. It’s quite likely that Dan had a lot to do with the naming of Long Lost Lake.

Another lake in close proximity to LLL is Glanders Lake. A few years ago while hunting west of Itasca Park, I ran into an old timer in the woods who was also hunting. We visited for awhile. He told me his name was Glanders and that he had hunted this area for 62 years. I told him we have a lake just east of LLL named Glanders. Was it named for your family? He said no, but he could tell me how it was named.

During the early 1900’s a lot of horses were used in the large logging operations. One winter the horses contracted Gland Fever. Some of the horses died. The loggers would pull the dead horses out on the ice of what was an unnamed small lake. After that winter they would call the lake Glanders Lake. Merle Metcalf, a resident of Glanders Lake, obtained the same story from two old timers. Additional old timers have also told the same story. So it is quite likely that this is how Glanders Lake got its name.