TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — Ruttger’s @ 100

Ruttger’s offers beautiful boredom — and that’s a very good thing

A letter arrived in our snail mail the other day.  It was from Randy and Tina Ruttger, the third-generation owners and operators of Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge on Lake Bemidji near Bemidji, Minn.  It was not unexpected.  We get one every year.  So do hundreds, maybe thousands, of other of Ruttger’s visitors.  The thick of winter must be a good time to get potential patrons thinking about their summer vacations and laying down deposit money.

This letter was a little different, though.  It recalled some of the resort’s now 100-year history, starting with its humble beginnings back in 1915.  Good times, but also bad, like a disastrous fire that destroyed three of the resort’s main buildings in September 1920.  Somehow, Ruttger’s reopened the following July.

Ginny and I have spent a few days at Ruttger’s almost every summer since we were married in 1977.  Usually just a couple of nights at a time.  But they are nights away from most of our usual distractions.  We leave the laptops at home and use our cell phones only in moderation.  In exchange, we’re rewarded with lake sights and sounds, loons in the water and kids playing in the sand.  Neither ever changes, and neither ever gets old.

We usually land at Ruttger’s early in the afternoon. We unpack in time for a nice, long nap. Before we know it, it’s time for a cocktail and then dinner somewhere. In the morning, we’ll read or put the top down on the car and drive around the lake to Bemidji, hitting a thrift shop or two along the way.  Pretty soon, it’s time for lunch and nap time again, maybe a swim in the pool or a sauna and then dinner. If it sounds boring, bore me.

We don’t usually go in or on the lake much, but there’s just something about being near the water that’s unlike anything else.

We live in, maybe not constant, but occasional fear that Ruttger’s will be taken down and replaced with luxury condos or something.  If that ever happens, God forbid, a little bit of our souls would go with it.

One thought on “TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — Ruttger’s @ 100”

  • Mark Haley January 29, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    MY parents have had a cabin next door to ruttgers since 1970. My wife and I bought a cabin on lake Bemidji in 1996. I hope it stays the same for the next 100yrs.


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