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Teal Lake Lodge, 1923

This lesson plan was developed by the Office of School Services as part of the Wisconsin Stories teachers guide for the secondary-level classroom. Please adapt it to fit your students' needs.

Background Information

Established in 1921 near Hayward, Ross's Teal Lake Lodge is one of the oldest resorts in northern Wisconsin continually owned and operated by the same family. Due to the preservation of business records and family papers that span the history of the resort, students will be able to analyze how the recreation industry in the north country has evolved over the past seventy-five years. This website offers an electronic facsimile of a resort advertisement from 1923. In addition, students can visit the website of Ross's Teal Lake Lodge.

Like most resorts in northern Wisconsin in the 1920s, Teal Lake Lodge attracted a professional-class clientele from throughout the Mid-west. As is evident from the 1923 brochure, the most important attractions to prospective guests were the opportunities for fishing and hunting. Activities for women and children were of secondary importance. Also beginning in 1920s and continuing for several decades, north-country resorts promoted the health benefits of the climate, especially for allergy sufferers. These guests helped many northern resorts survive the Great Depression. 

As the American middleclass expanded after World War II, Ross's Teal Lake Lodge adapted to attract this growing sector of the recreation industry. Although many guests still considered fishing the most important activity of their north woods vacation, the resort adjusted to satisfy varied interests, promoting pursuits such as boating, hiking, sightseeing, and swimming. In the 1970s the owners began advertising winter activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Most recently, the resort added an eighteen-hole golf course.

Suggestions for teaching with the two advertisements follow the 1923 brochure. 

Documents

Teal Lake Lodge. 1923 Brochure. Ross's Teal Lake Lodge Collection. State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison.

Discussion Questions

Direct students to read the 1923 promotional brochure and answer the following questions: 

  1. What method(s) of transportation did guests use to visit this northern Wisconsin resort in the 1920s? 
  2. Consider the information contained in the 1923 brochure. Remembering that the brochure was prepared to attract guests, identify the two most important features or attractions emphasized by the author of the document. 
  3. If you did not know when the brochure was published, what references or information might serve as clues to help you date it? 
  4. Imagine that you had to write a paper about the history of the tourism industry in northern Wisconsin. How would this document affect your coverage or interpretation of this period? 
    1. Next, direct students to read the 1990s website for Ross's Teal Lake Lodge and answer the following questions.
  5. Based on your review of both documents, what aspects of this family business have changed over the past seventy-five years? 
  6. How are these changes in the business a reflection of changes in our society? Explain. 
  7. Based on your review of both documents, what aspects of the resort business remain unchanged over the past seventy-five years? 
  8. What can the continued existence of the Teal Lake Lodge tell us about the basic interests of resort guests over the past seventy-five years?

Suggested Activity

  1. Have students research a region of Wisconsin, beginning with materials obtained from the Department of Tourism (1-800-432-8747) then prepare a promotional brochure describing the recreational opportunities available in that region. Remind students to consider the wide range of interests that attract tourists to a region or community.
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