Fair Hills Resort History
Three brothers, Hud, Frank, and George Ashelman, started Fair Hills Resort in 1906. The Ashelmans found an abandoned stone fountain near the lake in the area of present cabins 10 through12 and built their farm house there in 1902. Summer boarders stayed with them for a few years. They started construction of the resort in 1906. They enlarged the farm house 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, but destroyed by fire in 1917. Resort guests arrived via 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 1, 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. Fortunately, the weather turned nice, Ed 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, lived at the resort until 2018. Dave can still be found singing in the Hootenanny every Tuesday! Their daughter, Beth Kaldahl Schupp, is the 4th generation and currently runs the resort with her husband, Dan.
A few more parcels of land have been added through the years…the Ranch House in the late ’40s…cabins 55 through 59 in 1974 and the Blue House in 1985. The 1,200 acres that make up Five Lakes resort were purchased in 1976. Five Lakes was purchased from William Bollenbach of Minneapolis. Wildflower was purchased in 1992. The land was farmland, owned by Ben and Joanne Ackerson. Joel Goldstrand designed the course and and built by Fairway architects. Wildflower Golf Course opened in 1993.