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  • Fishing is as good today
    as it was back then

    Click on the thumbnails for a historic slideshow. In the early 1930's, Neal Kirk founded Kirk's Lodge. Born in Ina, IL, he was the eldest of eleven children and one of two males. Two of the girls died during their childhood. Life on the family farm was difficult, so Neal moved to Chicago, IL and became a barber. There he met and married a lady by the name of Lena who came from California. As a petite lady with a lot of spirit and spunk, she was often called Mynette (pronounced Minute).

    Later, Neal was reported to have become bored with the city life and with Lena/Minute moved to Ely to build and operate a fishing/hunting lodge. As time went on, and monies became more available, they expanded the operation and built more cabins along with Kirk's Lodge and boat house. Ultimately they had ten cabins. Fishing is as good today as it was back then.

    In the late 1940's, Ruth and Bill Burley (who was generally referred to as Burley) came to Ely for a vacation and camped on Wind Bay on Moose Lake. It is reported that they spent their honeymoon on an island-referred to as Honeymoon Island- on Newfound Lake.


    This picture shows very early
    portaging at Prairie Portage

    After several years of vacationing here, they ended up buying into Kirk's Lodge and becoming partners with Neal and Mynette Kirk. Later, they bought out Kirk's and were the sole owners, but retained Kirk's name. Neal Kirk died in 1952, but his wife continued to work at the resort. Ruth handled the cooking, cabins and books, while Burley did the maintenance and made sure that the boats got out every morning. Mynette, because of her vivaciousness, coordinated hospitality.

    Ruth is quoted in the Ely Echo (May 1979) as having said they were the first people at Kirk's lodge to have an outboard motor. She also remembered that they used to tow all of the fishermen in a line up to Newfound, Sucker, and Birch Lakes for a day of fishing.

    In the middle 50's, enter Mike Vosburgh. Mike and his brothers along with their parents, Jean (Burley's daughter) and Gene Vosburgh began to visit their Grandparents at Kirk's. Jean and Mr. Gene (as he was referred to) were employed full time in the Chicago area, but managed long summer vacations at Kirk's to help run the resort. Mike loved the area so much that at an early age he began to take a bus from the Chicago area to Ely to work with his Grandfather Burley during the summer months. Like any young kid, he did whatever Grandpa asked of him, and ended up learning the entire resort business from the bottom up.


    The "before site". It has been called Mt. Inspiration, Inspiration Point, and "Gin Hill" due to all of the Juniper trees that were on the property.

    As Mike got older he began to take on more and more of the resort's responsibilities. Ultimately, he began to guide, and was featured in several newspaper articles as a noted guide and naturalist. One time he guided a group of Girl Scouts and was given a card by them indicating he was an official member of the Girls Scout of America.

    1978 saw the beginning of a government buy out of several resorts on Moose Lake. Kirk's was among them. Again, because of Mike's love of the area, he decided to build his home and start his own resort (Custom Cabin Rentals) high atop Inspiration Point over looking Moose Lake.

    After opening the doors of Custom Cabin Rentals, Mike still managed to do some towing and guiding, but really just enjoyed running the resort and having an occasional day out with his family and friends. Willy Vosburgh, Mike's son, has grown up with our resort on Moose Lake and offers our fourth generation connection.