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Forum Index -> Pacific NW History -> Baker Lake Resort to be torn down
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Schroder
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Location: Swans Trail, WA
Post Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:32 am    Baker Lake Resort to be torn down
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I always thought the cabins would be a nice place for a quiet retreat. I guess I'll have to hurry if I want to experience it.

Quote:

Baker Lake Resort to go primitive
Concrete Herald
By Cora Thomas
posted 7.10.09

Baker Lake Resort, located thirty minutes north of State Route 20 on Baker Lake Road, will soon change.

Resting on land owned by the U.S. Forest Service, and leased and operated by Puget Sound Energy through a special use permit since 1998, the resort will remove some of its built infrastructure for a more “natural” look and increased privacy for campers. The changes are expected to begin after the resort’s season closes in September, since PSE’s permit expires in December 2009. The USFS hopes to reopen the transformed campground for the 2011 camping season.

PSE was meant to relinquish the resort and campgrounds back to the USFS at the end of the lease term; a recent settlement agreement gave the operation of the resort back to the USFS under a new federal operating license—a more appropriate fit, said Roger Thompson, Public Relations manager for PSE.

“We came to a collective agreement about what kind of conditions we wanted to see under the new license,” he said. The new arrangement reflected the consensus that “the business of recreation is better suited for the Forest Service—which already operates a lot of campgrounds—not necessarily for a company like PSE,” whose focus is the generation and distribution of electricity, he said.

According to PSE Recreation Supervisor Pamela Garland, the resort’s decommissioning will include “removing higher-level infrastructure, such as water hookups and showers.”

The property will become a Development Level 3 Campground under the watch of the U.S. Forest Service, with primitive campsites that include tent sites, picnic tables, fire rings, and water spigots. The cabins, shower facilities, and water and electric hookups for RVs will be torn down and removed, although RV campsites will be available later without water or electricity. PSE will be responsible for demolition of the public buildings, such as the cabins, but administrative and facilities buildings will stay, said Gretta Movassaghi, a Natural Resource Specialist for the USFS. “The resort store is in negotiation, but the boat dock will be available for use after the change,” she added.

The change isn’t drawing applause from all corners, said resort store clerk Sheya Sanchez, who has held her position for four summers and regularly chats with vacationers who have visited the resort for generations.

“It’s kind of sad, since it’s been open so long,” Sanchez said of the resort. “A lot of customers who come up every year are disappointed.”

A legend passes
The resort has a rich history. It was named Tarr’s Resort before Edward and Betty Lemos bought it in 1975, naming it Baker Lake Resort and running it till 1998, when PSE bought it. Lemos was a motivated businessman in southern California, but found he needed to escape the city. The Lemoses and their three children loved the outdoors, so they decided to own and operate a campground.

Charlie Tarr, a family friend, had two decades earlier built and operated what would become Baker Lake Resort. The Lemos family leased the resort from the U.S. Forest Service, which owned the land then and now.

The resort offered a dock, bathhouse, bathrooms, and 12 cabins. Later, the Lemoses built a store, and renovated the bathhouse and other structures.

For the Lemos family, the resort is saturated with memories. In 1975, while the Lemoses prepared to open the resort for the season, officials told them that Mount Baker had the potential to erupt. But, since the danger was not imminent, the Lemos family chose not to evacuate. As the volcanic threat continued, they kept busy painting and repairing buildings.

“There’s no way to prepare for something like that,” said Betty Lemos.

An interesting epilogue to that story took place five years later: Because the Lemos family could empathize with Harry Truman and his beloved Spirit Lake, journalist Dan Rather and a news crew visited the resort after Mount St. Helens violently erupted in 1980.

“Buy a bigger gun”
Betty Lemos has other fond memories of the parties they hosted for resort guests, with music, great food, and lots of dancing. “I wouldn’t have any other business,” Betty said. “We met absolutely wonderful people,” she said.

Betty’s daughter, Sandy Lemos, concurs. “It’s the most beautiful place on God’s green Earth!” she said.

Betty remembers darker moments, too. Once, a group of shady characters almost ran her over with their car. She brandished her gun and they disappeared quickly. When she reported the incident to the police, they responded, “Better buy a bigger gun.” She did.

Ed and Betty now reside in Ocean Park, Wash., and although the Baker Lake Resort of their memories will cease to exist, the sparkling lake will continue to offer a great recreation destination.

The resort will be memorialized, said Movassaghi. “There will be some form of recognition that the Baker Lake Resort existed, with signage perhaps, although the exact form of acknowledgment is yet to be decided,” she said.

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seawallrunner
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Joined: 27 Apr 2005
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Post Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:24 am   
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A friend and I stayed there last year. The resort had the last available camp site by the lake that weekend. It wasn't a quiet place that night, but it is scenic. There's a quaintness about the Resort that will be missed.

By the way, if you do choose to have a little retreat there, BYOB. The Resort store is dry. They sell pop and chips and ice cream though. And they serve hot coffee too.
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Schroder
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Post Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:12 pm   
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Weekdays is a different story. Only one cabin taken and a dozen campers yesterday. We just drove through and looked in the early evening on our way home.
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hyak.net
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Post Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:59 pm   
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Such a shame that a minority of people make decisions that the majority of people do not want but they feel they know better.  Sad IMO.
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Oarboar
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Post Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:58 pm   
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hyak.net wrote:
Such a shame that a minority of people make decisions that the majority of people do not want but they feel they know better.  Sad IMO.

Assuming facts not in evidence.  I wasn't aware we had a referendum or even any polling done on this issue.

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Sadly, right now I'm a poseur.  Sigh.
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hyak.net
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Post Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:10 pm   
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I am assuming and I am very confident the number of people who would want the resort to remain as is would be much higher then those who would want it torn down so the campground can look like 90% of all the other campgrounds in WA.
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kbatku
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Post Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:53 pm    ditto that
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Same with the USFGS tearing down (or failing to be allowed to be maintained) trail side shelters.
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Slugman
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Post Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:40 pm   
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hyak.net wrote:
Oarboar wrote:
hyak.net wrote:
Such a shame that a minority of people make decisions that the majority of people do not want but they feel they know better.  Sad IMO.

Assuming facts not in evidence.  I wasn't aware we had a referendum or even any polling done on this issue.

I am assuming and I am very confident the number of people who would want the resort to remain as is would be much higher then those who would want it torn down so the campground can look like 90% of all the other campgrounds in WA.

I am assuming and I am very confident that you don't have any idea what you are talking about.

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I get a warm and fuzzy feeling whenever I see parents taking their kids on backpacking trips, while at the same time wishing they would go away - Slugman

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Hulksmash
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Post Sat Jul 25, 2009 9:49 am   
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Here's an idea.....contract it's operation to an out side vendor, like many other campgrounds uhh.gif  Oh..wait that would require thinking out side the dam box. frown.gif
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RodF
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Post Sat Jul 25, 2009 2:05 pm   
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hyak.net wrote:
I am assuming and I am very confident the number of people who would want the resort to remain as is would be much higher then those who would want it torn down so the campground can look like 90% of all the other campgrounds in WA.

If Schroder (the original poster of this thread) were to edit his posting to add a poll, I bet it would prove you right.
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peltoms
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Post Sun Jul 26, 2009 5:28 am   
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That is too bad, antique wilderness treasures like this that pre date national forests are rare and historic.  What do the mean by bathhouse?
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captain jack
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Post Sun Jul 26, 2009 11:12 am   
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Well, before everybody starts tearing up  bawl.gif  and reminiscing about the good ol' days, blah.gif you have read closely what they are stating.

Quote:
  The property will become a Development Level 3 Campground under the watch of the U.S. Forest Service, with primitive campsites that include tent sites, picnic tables, fire rings, and water spigots. The cabins, shower facilities, and water and electric hookups for RVs will be torn down and removed, although RV campsites will be available later without water or electricity. PSE will be responsible for demolition of the public buildings, such as the cabins, but administrative and facilities buildings will stay, said Gretta Movassaghi, a Natural Resource Specialist for the USFS. “The resort store is in negotiation, but the boat dock will be available for use after the change,” she added.

If you have been to the resort, you would know that the power hookups for RV's are stuck on poles and up in trees, and there is a clunky old generator building that supplies power to the grounds. I would not be opposed to this infrastructure going away. Or the cabins. The cabins are small and kinda crusty, and right in the most congested area of the resort, near the beach.
The generator is noisy and disturbs all the campsites within 500' of it. I think getting rid of this infrastructure is a good thing.
They are not trying to eliminate RV usage at all, just limiting hookups.
The showers were nice for long term stays, but I usually dont spend more than 3 days in this area at a time, so I just get a little itchy.
I still prefer my tent for a good nights sleep, especially when its hot outside, cool moist air descends on the resort at night from the snowfields on Baker, making it really comfortable for sleeping in a well ventilated, or all mesh tent.

The paragraph quoted above also indicates the store is not going away, yet.
I hope it stays, because this is the ONLY place you can get ice and soda and basic stuff , like bread, for 20 miles. It serves all the campgrounds along the west side of Baker Lake, as well as climbers routes to Shuksan, so I think it performs a vital role in the area. Hundreds of people, not staying at the resort, visit every day in the summer. Heck, I sneak in to go swimming there when I'm staying at Park Creek, across the road, it sure is nice to get a big ol Nutty Buddy ice cream cone for the hot walk back.  agree.gif
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Malachai Constant
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Post Sun Jul 26, 2009 11:22 am   
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ditto.gif Sorry but I always thought of that campground as the slum of Baker Lake. It used to be free and the last time I was there I opted to Guerrilla camp at a landing on a logging road and felt much safer.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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marzsit
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Post Sun Jul 26, 2009 11:47 am   
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unfortunately, if the generator goes away, so does the power to the store and all of it's refrigerators/freezers....
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captain jack
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Post Sun Jul 26, 2009 12:08 pm   
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A much smaller and quieter generator, maybe around on the side of the store, facing the dock, could easily power the couple of reefers and coolers they have, as well as the lights. That way the noise goes out over the lake. The only people it would affect at night would be those staying across the lake at the Silver Creek campground, and thats mostly those pesky boat in campers.

Baker Lake Resort also has the only land line telephone for miles, I hope they retain that for emergencies.
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