Built in 1929, the Pine Beach Hotel was one of the first large developments on the south end of Gull Lake.
The lodge was built in 1930. Ruttger's was later leased to Jack Madden and became the Madden Pine Portage Resort in 1969.
The property was first owned by the federal government before it moved into the hands of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1864. For a period, the land exchanged owners often with the railroad selling the property to private canning and lumber companies and then getting it back.
In 1902, the land was sold to Laura Waite and her husband. In 1906, it became the property of T. W. Harrison, a man with a vision of selling lots to customers who arrived via rail from Minneapolis. But the vision was left unrealized and the land was willed to Harrison's wife in 1914. John Harrison, his son, acted as trustee.
Reportedly intrigued with the notion of developing the land, the younger Harrison took a partner in Kansas City, real estate promoter, Chester Start. The year was 1926. The men formed two corporations -- the Pine Beach Golf Corp., to develop a golf course, and the Pine Beach Corp., to develop the land.
That same year the two men put work in motion to build the Island View resort. The resort was constructed for Walter Frampton, a machinist in Brainerd, who operated the business until 1946. The next owners were Ben and Eleanor Curry. Four years later the resort belonged to John Thiel.
Fishing was good at Ruttger's in 1899.
But back at Pine Beach, men who saw the potential for a large resort setting in the area realized they needed to forge another partnership. Start and Harrison's corporation deeded the land to the Brainerd Pine Beach Hotel Corp., which included themselves, a group of Brainerd businessmen and Arthur Roberts. Plans for a resort hotel in a large four-story structure came together in 1929. The hotel opened its doors for guests the following year.
Roberts, with a Kahler family history of hotels -- including those in Duluth and Rochester -- bought out his partners. The Roberts Pine Beach Hotel became one of 42 hotels Roberts managed. He accomplished the work from his summer headquarters at Pine Beach.
Jack Madden came onto the scene as a college student with an early business interest that took shape with a soda fountain in the Roberts hotel. Madden also had a soda fountain that summer, about 1931, at the Burntside Lake Resort near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area near Ely. Madden bought the golf course in 1932 and the hotel in 1933.
Max Ruttger's Pine Beach Lodge was built in the Pine Beach area in 1930. It was leased to Jack Madden in 1969 and became the Madden Pine Portage Resort. The resort had 32 cottages, swimming pool, sauna and lodge by 1971.
In 1936, Madden and Start built Mission Point as a housekeeping resort with three cabins. In 1941, Madden bought the resort from Start. He built cabins to accommodate 24 people and constructed the lodge, later enlarging it to accommodate 126 guests.
The Voyageur was the last resort to be built in the Pine Beach area. Jack Madden, Jim Madden and John Arnold constructed the resort in 1955. And the Pine Beach Hotel became part of Madden's resort complex by 1971.