Whenever we went to Humboldt, Minnesota to visit family, a trip to Lake Bronson was always a serious option. Essentially Lake Bronson is where the people of Kittson County go to enjoy swimming, fishing, camping, and hiking. The interesting history of Lake Bronson reveals that it was built by forming a dam on the Two Rivers in the thirties. To learn more about the background of Lake Bronson, please check the official web site from the Minnesota DNR.
From a personal perspective, it was a great place to be a kid. Unlike any other place near it, it had a beach. This beach also had a snack bar at the back. Either you cooled off in the water or you could run across the hot sands to get an ice cream from the shop if you had enough money. The beach would not win any awards (like having lots of small rocks in the water) but as a kid this didn’t seem to matter. Given that kids just love water AND sand, it probably does not really give much cause for concern. Being so far north you would think that the risk of sunburn would be very reduced. Not true! I remember getting burned from time to time.
I remember there being a rope to section off the beach swimming area. This was to discourage swimmers from going to far and also to make sure that boaters didn’t get too close. I remember us daring each other to swim out to the rope.
Fishing was always a popular option around the lake. It is probably one of the few places I caught a fish. I seem to remember that perch were fairly common. I didn’t mind catching them but I left the cleaning up to either my uncle or cousins. We used to do this around the shoreline and especially around the dam. You could buy bait down the road and given the fish were hungry it really wasn’t that hard to catch something.
Lake Bronson was really two things. It was the park with the lake and it was also the town. The town largely benefited from the trade of tourism. Last time it was there it was still kicking and doing much better financially than a place like Humboldt.
My Grandma loved going camping out at Lake Bronson. Every year she would take the camper out to the lake and just stay there for some specified time (which could be at least a week). As a young grandkid, I remember spending many summer holidays in the camper with other grandkids. We played cards, listened to the radio, went on walks, went to the beach, and just did kid things. Grandma was a great host on these expeditions and we were always well stocked with supplies. I remember sitting around the campfire at night with the potential for s’mores. It was always a bit cozy at nights since camper manufacturers always lie about the sizes of their beds. It was great fun. We would get visitors from Humboldt (like Grandpa) and it seems like everyone in Kittson Country knows each other anyhow.
When we went back in 2002, Grandma was still continuing the tradition. Grandma and Grandpa offered for us (my family) to stay at the upgraded camper at Lake Bronson. We were slated to stay for one week. Unfortunately that year was one of the worst years for mosquitoes. It was so bad that the deer were flushed out of the river areas and into areas closer to the towns (with no trees). Being the amateurs we were, we stayed there. It didn’t take long to realized that the mosquitoes were too many. It became custom to use bug spray in volume whenever we went to or from the car. It became a gauntlet to get to the restroom without being heavily assaulted. I’m not kidding! It was so bad that the mosquitoes could actually draw blood in large quantities and you would be able to do nothing about it. No joke. Don’t underestimate the Minnesota mosquito. It is big, fast, and knows exactly where your must vulnerable vein exists. Florida mosquitoes are quite lazy by comparison.
We managed okay for a few days. It was always a rush to get anywhere. Then one night, something bad happened. I was up cleaning up and everyone else was asleep. I noticed a mosquito that had sneaked in. I hunted him down and showed no mercy. Soon after, another one appeared. He was dispatched as well. And then another… and another…. what is going on here?
To my shock, they had somehow managed to come down the cooking vent from the stove. Even worse, there was nothing I could do to stop them. The vent was supposed to be closed already and most likely they were getting by some crack I could not close. After a few seconds imagining the terrible amount of bites we would have by morning, I woke the family and we left the camper to go back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was a very wise decision given that there was no way we could win the battle. We only had so much spray and I swear that some of those mosquitoes were immune anyways.
It was really a bit of a freak year for mosquitoes. However, even in a slow year you should pay attention to the threat.
The funny thing is that some locals just accept mosquitoes and let them bite. I guess that is what you need to do to live there. It’s like you become a kind of blood bank for the future generations of bigger and better mosquitoes.
Regardless of all this, I’ll always have pleasant memories of Lake Bronson. It is one of those places that seems to escape time and always feels like it is inviting you to remember a different time. Be sure to check out the beach and climb the tower. Camp and do some fishing. It’s not a place that you are meant to brag about but really just a place to spend time with your family and enjoy the timelessness of the joy of summer.