More general historical information on Lake Shetek
Though the cabin sites and the Shetek Monument have existed for many years, Lake Shetek State Park wasn’t established until 1937. The site was selected to be a state park because of the potential to draw large amounts of visitors to a park located on the shore of the largest lake in Southwest Minnesota. It is also approximately 30 miles from Camden State Park, and was intended to relieve the heavy use from that location. Lake Shetek Park now consists of 1109 acres.
Located within Lake Shetek State Park is the Shetek Monument, completed and dedicated in 1925, a memorial and final resting site for 15 settlers who were killed during the Dakota Conflict, on August 20, 1862.
Several pioneer cabin sites are located in the park. They include the Duley, Wright, Smith, and Eastlick cabin sites. The Koch cabin, owned by the Murray County Historical Society, was moved into the park from Teepeeotah in 1964, and is the only cabin left standing. Built in 1857, it is thought to be the oldest building in Murray County.
Much of the early development and construction of park facilities was done by Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers. The workers were part of a WPA Camp which was located on Keeley Island, across the lake to the west, from 1934 to 1940. The camp employed 200 transient and homeless men. Initially operated by the State Emergency Relief Administration, the camp was one of 32 that existed in Minnesota. The area of Shetek Lutheran Bible Camp on Keeley Island was at one time part of the State Park. WPA workers constructed buildings in the park and at the Bible Camp location, and also several causeways, including the causeway that leads to Loon Island. With an increased availability of jobs and the outbreak of World War II, the WPA dissolved. Construction of the final causeway, or dike, which was to connect Loon and Keeley Islands was abandoned , and the Keeley Island property was no longer part of Lake Shetek Sate Park.
Several park buildings and facilities are on the list of The National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. They include the the Beach House, built in 1939-40, which features finely executed stonework incorporated into a series of stairways, terraces, and retaining walls. The Beach House and adjoining beach is easily seen from a long distance and is considered a landmark. In 1960, the concession counter was removed and a door and windows were added. In 1964, an addition was made to the rear of the structure which changed the building to a T-shaped configuration.
The Picnic Area Shelter Building was built in 1940-41. Although another picnic shelter was built in 1986, this building is still in use. A small Sanitation Building was built in 1940 just north of the shelter and is no longer in use. The Park Manager’s Residence, originally known as the Custodian’s Cabin, was built in 1939-40, and added on to several years after that. The Park Shop was the Garage and Park Office when it was built in 1939. After a fire in 1953, it was remodeled and added on to. Near the Shop and Manager’s Residence is the Ice and Wood Building, which was built in 1941. Although ice hasn’t been stored in the building for years, it is still used to store bundled firewood and other items.
The 1000 foot long Causeway that leads from the boat landing to Loon Island is also included on the List of Historical Places by the NPS. It was built in 1938 with boulders, fieldstone, and gravel from the shoreline of Lake Shetek and from nearby farm fields. Two bridges were built into the Causeway: one in 1966, and the other in 1974. It was heavily damaged during the flooding of 1993, and repaired that autumn.
In about 1950, the then Conservation Department-Section of Fisheries, built two ponds in the park for the purpose of raising fish, most of which were Northern Pike. They were eventually stocked in various area lakes. When travel and other costs became too restrictive for Windom Fisheries to raise brood stock in the ponds, they were turned over to the park. The ponds are now used for “put and take” fishing. DNR-Fisheries normally stocks the ponds every spring with crappies, bluegills, or perch.
Many other improvements have been added to the park since the WPA days. They include a Contact Station (Office) that was built in about 1965, and converted into an Interpretive Center in 1992 when the new Park Office was built. It was remodeled in 1995, and several new exhibits were installed in the building in 1997. The new Park Office includes a well-stocked gift shop.
Former and present state employees include the following
Sig Lervaag 1946-1956
Clarence Detterman 1957-1965
Lester Larson 1965-1966
Robert Rosengren 1966-1990
Bruce Eliason 1990-Present
Howard Teague 1973
Bill Bolin 1974-1991
Charlene Cipala 1992
Bill Anderson 1993
Kris Hiller 1998
Roseann Schaver 1998-Present
Elmer Deslauries 1960
Kermit Whitman 1961
Clinton Converse 1962
Rudolph Duenow 1963
Russell Simmons 1965
Reynold Johnson 1965-1968
Mark Eichten 1969-1972
Merlin Johnson 1973-1975
Bennett Gilbertson 1976-1979
Al Hodapp 1979-1986
Mark Crawford 1987-1989
Randy Lorenzen 1989-1990
Al Sobrack 1990-Present
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