General description of ArdenhurstTownship
Ardenhurst Township is located in northwestern Itasca County, Minnesota. Population, based on the 2010 U.S. census, is 164. The entire township is within the statuary boundary of Chippewa National Forest. Portions of Blackduck State Forest are also contained within the township. The township is blessed with large tracts of public land open to outdoor recreational activities such as hunting, hiking and other activities. More than half the land area within the township is owned and managed by either the U. S. Forest Service or the Minnesota Department of Natural resources. Two state designated snowmobile trails and additional ATV trail riding approved roads and trails are also available. Blue Rock Lake and Fiske Lake waterfowl refuges are located near the southwestern corner of the township.
The predominant geological feature of the township is Island Lake which is the headwaters of the Popple River. The 3,100 acre lake has excellent fishing with five resorts which primarily serve customers interested in fishing for walleye, panfish, bass and northern pike. The township also contains all or parts of nearly a dozen smaller lakes, the largest of these being Moose Lake on the eastern border.
Ardenhurst Township has a community park located on the west shore of Island Lake on Island Lake Road and a community cemetery located on County Road 31 one-half mile east of State Highway 46. The township hall is located on State Highway 46 and also serves as a community event center.
The City of Northome, located two miles north of the township border, serves as a commercial center for the area. Northome has a medical clinic, grocery and hardware stores, restaurants, service station, craft store, public library, lumber yard and municipal liquor store. Volunteer fire and emergency medical services for Ardenhurst Township are provided from Northome. Many Ardenhurst residents serve as volunteer members of the Northome Library, Northome Fire Department and Northome First Responders.
Local events of interest include an annual township brunch at the Ardenhurst Community Park and a Winterfest Kid’s Fishing Contest on Island Lake. A summer farmer’s market and the Koochiching County Fair in Northome also are well attended by township residents and summer visitors.
Ardenhurst Township History
At one time, the Ojibwe gardened on Elmwood Island in Island Lake in Ardenhurst Township and followed trails around the lake and from Island Lake to Bartlett Lake. The land containing Ardenhurst Township was purchased from the Ojibwe by the Federal Government by the Treaty of 1855. The area was surveyed in 1896 and opened for settlement in 1898. The township was first organized in 1903 and the first recorded Chairman was A.C. Anderson. By 1910 about 120 people lived in Ardenhurst Township. Half of the township residents were born in Minnesota, one-fourth came from other states, and one-fourth were immigrants – mainly from Norway and Sweden.
The community on the north shore of Island Lake was first known as “Cunningham” and that on the south shore was called “Bergville.” Edwin and Wallace Cunningham opened the first store in 1899 and added the first post office in 1901. In 1904 a second post office was established at Bergville with Albert K. Berg as postmaster and the Bergville School opened in 1909 with fourteen students. The Cunningham School was built in 1910 and served from five to nineteen students in eight grades with one teacher.
Of the many sawmills once operating in Ardenhurst Township, the largest was the Ellingson Mill, which was built in 1913 on the west side of Island Lake and could cut 40 thousand board feet of lumber per day. The first resort in the township was Danola Lodge, which opened on the north shore of Island Lake in about 1915. By the 1940s, tourism had replaced logging as a major industry in the region and about fifteen resorts were in operation around Island Lake. This was facilitated by the construction of Highway 46 in 1935.
Although the first telephone line was installed in 1914, (mainly so that residents could report forest fires) electric service did not arrive around Island Lake until after the Second World War. The whole community would turn out in the winter to cut ice for the summer.
For further reading, try Northome Community Centennial History, by Faye M. Estabrooks, and A Distant Record, by Carol Avelsgaard. Both books are available at the Northome Library.
The website www.skoe.com also contains a treasure of historical information and photographs. Ener Skoe homesteaded on the south shore of Island Lake in 1901.