Many years ago, there was a town called Bronson in the far northwest corner of the state, named after a local settler. The lake didn’t exist then; instead, there was the South Fork Two River that supplied water to settlers. However, in the 1930s, a severe drought caused wells to dry up. Desperate for water, it was decided that the river be dammed to create an artificial lake. Along with the dam, a combination water and observation tower were built, as well as a beach and bathhouse. The importance of the man-made lake is reflected in the town’s changing its name to Lake Bronson.
That time period coincided, of course, with the days of the WPA. The WPA built a camp in what became this state park, and this concrete slab is all that remains of that entirely self-sufficient community. It’s thought this was probably the footprint for the wash house.
The lake may be artificial, but that doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful. The park itself has extensive wild lands. Its location straddles the transition between forests and prairies, so it contains some of each (and has camping available in each landscape as well).
But there are plenty of modern amenities, including a lovely visitors center and fishing piers, as well as a well-kept beach.
Given its varying landscapes, it’s not surprising that the park is home to a wide variety of birds and wildlife. There are 14 miles of mostly easy hiking trails, some of which parallel the lake, while others go through both forest and prairie. There are also mountain bike and horse riding trails during the summer, and groomed snowmobile and snowshoe trails in the winter. Also? Close to Hallock, home of Revelation Ale.
But keep your eyes out for playful critters known to dart across roads. Even if it’s tempting to watch the water instead.
What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.