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Some History from a Previous Owner

July 19th, 2011

Fred Thompson, who owned the Tamaracks Resort from 1965 - 1973, recently visited us and sent us this short history.

OWNERSHIP OF THE TAMARACKS RESORT (1965 - 1973)

In 1964 my wife, Ingrid, and I drove up from Idaho Falls, Idaho, to Missoula to sign a contract to purchase The Tamaracks Resort in Seeley Lake, Montana, from Evan Kimmel and his wife. We took possession in September 1965 upon my retirement from the United States Army.

With the help of my mother and stepfather and Ingrid’s mother and father we operated the resort for the next 5 years while I was pursuing degrees at the University of Montana and the University of Washington. At the end of the 1970 season, when I began teaching at the University of Montana, we sold The Tamaracks on a contract for deed. At the end of the 1971 season the purchasers were unable to make their payment, so we retook possession. We sold again at the end of the 1972 season, but once again the purchasers were unable to make their first annual payment. We sold again prior to the 1973 season and this time the purchasers were able to meet the terms of the contract for sale. We were then free to pursue other dreams.

During our tenure most of our customers had been coming to The Tamaracks for years, either as parents, children or grandchildren. We kept the old customers coming and added others by making some improvements.

We built a beautiful, floating T-shaped dock to replace the shaky and decrepit stake-supported dock. We purchased four very stable, aluminum Lund boats out of Minnesota and retired the leaky, wooden row boats which had come with our purchase of the resort. We equipped the boats with outboard motors and rented them to our guests.

I cleared away the brush along the shoreline in front of the Clubhouse, and - using my 1961 3/4 ton GMC - hauled truckload after truckload of sand to form the resort’s first beach. (Leisure Lodge at the southern end of the lake had a more-or-less natural beach and I thought we too should have one, even if it had to be man-made.)

The Saddle Shop was used for storage and as a workshop. It had never been chinked, so I spent many tedious hours completing that task. In spite of his tender age my son, Nial, helped me in the Saddle Shop and throughout the resort.

Jim Darlington, who owned a ranch located east of Kozy Korner, leased us four horses each season for rental to our guests. Pepper, the smallest horse, bit one of our guests in the belly, while Mick, the biggest horse, brought Ingrid to tears of fury and frustration when he strolled through and snagged three lines holding the freshly washed linen from all the cabins. On a lighter note, much too often the would-be riders, lacking any hint of equestrian experience, were unable to motivate the horses, which consequently just stood there, adamantly refusing to move.

I added four slots for travel trailers, but they had to be self-contained, because the sites had neither electricity nor sewage.

When Ingrid’s mother, Nial’s Oma, fell into a cesspool behind the Clubhouse, Nial alerted us by shouting at the top of his lungs: “Hilfe! Die Oma ist in die Kloakengrube gefallen!” We provided the requested helped and hosed “die Oma” down so that she could be allowed to enter the Main Lodge (in which we maintained a dining room where we sometimes served as many as 65 guests.

Opa, Ingrid’s father, who was in his seventies, once tumbled off the end of the dock. Thinking that I would save him, I grabbed his legs, lifted them into the air, and held on tightly. Unfortunately I was not strong enough to lift him out and he, in turn, was unable to get his head out of the water. When I finally realized what was happening, I threw his feet and body into the water and pulled him out by the arms. Despite the horrific sputtering and intense recriminations, we both survived to laugh about it in the years to come.

Our guests enjoyed the Recreation Lodge, which housed a juke box, a pool table, and a player piano. On rainy days or evenings we would light a fire in the huge fireplace, but even then it was showing signs of deterioration. I populated the interior and exterior with the antlers of deer and elk I had taken on Rice Ridge or up Black Canyon, some of which I left hanging, when we sold the resort.

They were still there, when my sweetheart, Fran, and I visited The Tamaracks in June, 2011. We were both impressed by the improvements that had thus far been made by the current owners. We wish them every success.

angie Guests, History