Is owning a cabin part of your Minnesota dream?

The Muir/Marshall cabin and Highland Lake. The cabin was built by Bill Muir. Muir took his last trip to the cabin in 1985. He died in his beloved wilderness getaway that summer. (Steve Foss for MPR)

The number of cabin owners in Minnesota has dipped down a bit from 125,000 in 2005, to 122,000 in 2012, according to Jeff Forester, Executive Director, Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates.

But time at the lake is still an important tradition for many Minnesotans.

MPR News reporter Dan Kraker writes:

Inside a simple, brown cabin that overlooks a narrow bay of an isolated lake, Peggy Marshall pulls open the door of a cast-iron wood stove to start an annual rite.

“We’ll build a little fire in here, and take the chill off,” said Marshall, who has come to the cabin every summer for more than 40 years.

Outside, a giant old-growth red pine towers overhead and a loon pops to the lake’s tranquil surface.

Every Memorial Day weekend, the postcard-like scene and the memories it evokes draws families like Marshall’s to clogged highways, as they head for summer cabins.

With the long winter and late ice-out on many lakes, for some this could be their first visit since last fall.

Today’s Question: Is owning a cabin part of your Minnesota dream?

Read how the replies have changed over the last three years.

  • Gary F

    It wasn’t. I already have a house to clean and fix and mow and…… driving 3-4 hours on a Friday night to do it, not for me.

    But after living in St Paul for 23 years, it’s time to get out of the city. The city is getting me down. I’ll be an empty nester in a few years and i think it’s time for a change.

    I plan on buying a lake place close to the twin cities. Homestead the property. With technology changing, I shouldn’t have to report into the office as often. A good computer line is really all I’d need. But close enough to commute and call on customers in the metro.

    Being on the end of the baby boom and seeing the runaway spending at the state and federal level, I’m not sure if 401K’s and IRA’s are that great of a deal anymore. The insatiable beast called government will be coming for it. We have a huge baby boom population that will demand more government. So, buy property to diversify your assets I think is a good idea.

  • John

    It was until the taxes on lake property went through the roof. Now I think more about moving out of this state. If you are successful in the state of Minnesota you will be penalized by the State, and I’m not talking about millionaires, just hard working middle class duel income couples. Tax everything is the policy of the day and more and more people are accepting this as necessary instead of looking at the government wasteful spending.

    • kennedy

      I read the first sentence to say you want a Minnesota lake cabin, but you want it to cost less than it does. Probably true for a lot of people. The rest is off topic.

      • John

        Not the cost of the cabin, I’m not worried about that, its the continual increase in State taxes including lake property and then everything else including income, and the talk about a clothing tax. Its never ending and so is government spending.

        • Steve the Cynic

          The state doesn’t levy real estate taxes; counties and local governments do. The hikes in real estate taxes in recent years were necessitated by T-Paw’s slashing of LGA so he could claim not to have raised state taxes.

          Regardless, if you’d let go of the delusion that you actually own anything, those taxes would be a lot less vexing. Private property is a useful social construct, but ownership is not an objective reality. The instant you die, you own precisely nothing.

  • Steve the Cynic

    No. I’d rather rent one at a resort and let someone else deal with the maintenance and other headaches. Besides, the idea of being tied to just one destination for my time off doesn’t appeal to me.

  • jim

    No cabin for us, we travel so our child knows there is more to the world than one small strip of lakefront.

    • Gary F

      Never looked at it that way but I see your point. I was never a lake person, but after showing my kid a lot of the US, it is time to get a lake place.

      But then, some children have never fished for sunnies off the dock or pulled in a nice northern pike, or listened to the loons on the lake, caught fireflies at dusk, or went without a hand held electronic device for more than a day, or lots of lake stuff.

      Pheasants Forever calls it “No Child Left Inside”.

  • Jim G

    No. I have responsibility for maintenance of the hunting shack located on our Norwegian homestead, so taking on another property isn’t in our future. We like to visit the North Shore during the summer months and gladly pay resort owners for the privilege.

  • KTN

    Not sure it was our dream, but our cabin in NW Wi is wonderful. the fifth generation is now being born, so lots of history, nearly 100 years worth. Pretty rustic, small and cozy, and we still have a functioning outhouse. The property is old growth, with mature white and red pines, and six other tree species.

    The only drawback is if you have a cabin, that is where you go, so we don’t travel to other places like we might if we didn’t have a place to go already.

  • Sue de Nim

    With snow birds gone for two or three months in the winter and lake placers gone every weekend during the summer, it’s getting harder to field a quality church choir any more.

  • Heather

    headed to the cabin this weekend. No power, walk in, bring your own water…very rustic, very quite and cozy. No lake, but river fishing. Lots of walking in the woods. Only 1 room to clean, NO Lawn to mow….so sometimes the 3 hour drive is worth it!!!

  • Shane

    A cabin…Yes. A lake home…No. We like old school. Too many people have “cabins” that are no different from suburban houses….and putting a suburban house — already an aesthetic tragedy — on a beautiful lake does nothing to improve its charm.

  • Courtney

    A cabin is definitely part of my Minnesota dream. It’s something I’m willing to work hard to achieve. Something more remote, in the woods, preferably on some type of water body. It doesn’t have to be a big lake. I prefer tranquility. While I enjoy power boat sports, I’d rather have my cabin be a retreat where I can canoe, kayak, hike, and enjoy nature’s quiet.

  • Meghan

    My grandparents bought a cabin in Burnett County, WI nearly 35 years ago, and I love it up there. I’ve been going there since I was practically born. It will pass to my dad and his siblings once my grandma dies, and I hope that it’ll be around for me and my cousins to bring our kids to. It’s a great property and the lake isn’t too crowded. It’s remote, but not too far from the nearest small town. It’s perfect. I love it.

  • Jolissa Doornink

    Most definitely! Actually, the ultimate dream is to move back to Duluth. Fell in love with it during college. Too bad that beautiful city lacks jobs.

  • david

    I don’t necessarily want a cabin as much as a place I could park and leave a camper on down near my favorite trout streams. I think I would go more often for a quick weekend trip on the spur of the moment if I didn’t have to worry about finding a last minute campsite. Plus it would be nice to leave my gear there, and not have to set up and take down camp before hitting the streams.

  • Johnny

    Absolutely. I’m a second-generation cabin owner. My kids love the place as much as I do. You do have to make sure you get out there with the season so short, so if there’s vacation time and money to do it, take those trips from November to March.

  • kennedy

    Does the decrease in cabin owners mean that there are fewer cabins, or that there is an increase in people who own multiple cabins?

    • RSD

      People bought cabins and moved into them permanently – thus, they are not cabins but homes.

  • JQP

    A cabin , sure I wan’t one. But lets define the vernacular. Because those full 2-story homes with magazine decorating, full internet access, over-manicured lawns and family who show up to then immediately run into town for a movie and a dinner … are NOT cabins.

    A cabin is a place of willful penance … rudely furnished with the bare essentials where the mind wanders while toiling only as much as is needed to calm the erratic heart. It holds the equipment necessary for survival, not luxury, in that spot. There are very likely a fire-ring, a long path going somewhere, a kitchen with a view so nice you take a long time to do the dishes and old furniture so that spills and breaks are observed as interesting changes to the cabin’s persona. When you arrive there with intentions to mow … you are just as happy if its raining so you can read.