A View From The Lake

This article submitted by Linda S. Lorentzen on 06/17/97.

Tourism is part of what keeps Paynesville's economy strong. This concept was recognized a hundred years ago by the Lake Koronis Improvement Association in their first meeting in March 1897. By 1901 a Commercial Club emerged and had impact on Lake Koronis for over 20 years.

The Commercial Club's attention was initially devoted to "securing of good roads and the advancement of Koronis as a summer resort." In 1901 the greatest need was for accommodations at the lake. Because a hotel seemed out of the financial reach of the community, a smaller project was started. Several "small, but neat and substantial cottages to be used as sleeping rooms and in connection with these a restaurant and dining hall will be operated."

Thirty businessmen from the New Paynesville community were involved in the initial efforts of the Commercial Club. Familiar names such as: Frank Tolman, W.W. Holmes, E. R. Phipps, A.M. Porter, and W. A. Huntington were on the roster. President Frank Tolman delivered a speech in January 1902, addressing the accomplishments of the club. At that time New Paynesville was dependent on the railroad and he reported that from the two stations the following was shipped: "228 carloads of wheat and farm produce, 110 cars of butter and eggs, 32 cars of flour, and 38 cars of livestock. There have been received during the same time about 110 cars of lumber, coal, etc." Tolman then mobilized the group to focus on the project of erecting a summer hotel at Lake Koronis. A stock company was organized and several men were appointed to solicit subscriptions. The Lake Koronis Hotel Company succeeded in the dream of opening a hotel and allowed the Commercial Club to focus on other concerns.

In April 1907 through the efforts of the club, "20 cans of pike and black bass spawn" were obtained from Glenwood's state fishery. These were placed in Lake Koronis. President Phipps felt that in three years time the fish would provide excellent sport if "the outlaws who sein, net and spear, and the sportsmen (?) who catch more than they can possibly use" could be controlled.

Another 1907 project for the Commercial Club was to appoint a committee of one, J. McGenty, to have the springs along Lake Koronis "stoned up." Work was done so it would be "possible to get a pail of drinking water minus the flavoring of frog legs and decayed leaves." The New Paynesville Press pointed out that if the people who owned property at the lake were not progressive, the Commercial Club was.

From 1908 to 1912 the Commercial Club's focus was on improving the condition of the roads to Lake Koronis and in acquiring various fish to be planted in the lake. After 1912 the club's existence faded.

Several problems in the community in 1921 were the reason for another Commercial Club to be introduced. "The question of how to deal with strangers, who come here, get credit and leave with several hundred dollars of unpaid bills, is a problem..." People in the community were looking for a club to deal with problems, establish ties to new business ventures, and to foster a "friendly atmosphere between the village and surrounding territory."

By the end of 1921 the Commercial Club's main theme was how to attract tourists to the area. To reflect their intentions they appealed to the Paynesville community for assistance in selecting a suitable slogan for Paynesville. A five dollar prize was awarded for the winning entry: "Paynesville, gateway to Lake Koronis." It remains true today, Paynesville and Lake Koronis are dependent on one another. Paynesville provides a gateway to a view from the lake.

Information for this column was taken from the following issues of the New Paynesville/Paynesville Press: January 3, 1901; January 9, 1901; July 20, 1905; April 18, 1907; June 27, 1907; October 13, 1921; December 22, 1921; January 19, 1922.

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