Fair Hills Resort History
Fair Hills was started in 1906 by the three Ashelman brothers; Hud, Frank and George. The Ashelman’s found an abandoned stone fountain in the area of present cabins 10-12 and built their farm house there in 1902. They took in summer boarders for a few years and then in 1906 started construction of Fair Hills. They enlarged the farmhouse into a guest cottage known as “Elm Cottage.” It boasted the only bathtub on the resort. This was followed by “The Lodge” (located in the area of cabins 31 through 33). The terrace cabins (18 through 26) were added in 1912, only to be destroyed by fire in 1917. Resort guests arrived via a canal and lock system down the Pelican River, all the way from Detroit Lakes. This river system lasted for about 10 years, and currently is being studied for possible rejuvenation.
After the failure of the canal system in 1912, the next mode of transportation for resort guests was a huge red Duryea automobile capable of speeds up to 15 mph. The Ashelmans sold Fair Hills in 1918, and it was bought and sold every two years until 1926. Ed and Bessie Kaldahl bought it from a bank in St. Cloud that had repossessed it. Purchase price was $18,500. When Ed and his sons Chester and Tuddy came April 1st, 1926 to open Fair Hills, they found the linens, dishes and bedding had been sold at an auction a few weeks earlier by the previous owner! Ed wrote a letter canceling the purchase and put it in the glove compartment of the car. The weather turned nice, he never mailed the letter, and the Kaldahls have been here ever since!
Ed and Bessie Kaldahl ran the resort from 1926 to 1942. Then son Chester took over with wife Mildred until 1973. Third generation owner Dave Kaldahl and wife Barb still take part in operation at the resort. Dave can be found singing in the Hootenanny every Tuesday and cooking in the kitchen every morning. Barb leads resort guests on a 3 mile walk every morning at 7am and the leads water aerobics at 9:30am. Their daughter, Beth Kaldahl Schupp, is the 4th generation and current general manager.
A few more parcels of land have been added through the years…the Ranch House in the late 40’s…cabins #55 through #59 in 1974 and the Blue House in 1985. The 1200 acres that make up Lake Five were purchased in 1976. Formerly, it was owned by William Bollenbach of Minneapolis. Wildflower was purchased in 1992. The land was farmland, owned by Ben and Joanne Ackerson. The course was designed by Joel Goldstrand and built by Fairway architects. Wildflower Golf Course opened in 1993.