It is said that to know where we are going, we need to know where we came from. The land that White Birch Village sits on is “rich in history” and it helps define who we are today. We would like to share a little of that history with you. Enjoy!
The United States of America sells the land on both sides of County K to John C. Hoxie
Vilas County is named.
All land is sold to the Menasha Wooden Ware Company. Logging begins and continues on the property until 1910.
Sold to William Averill, but Menasha Wooden Ware Company retained timber rights.
Main lodge built from a Montgomery Ward catalog.
Sold to Irving Marsh, one month later sold to Asa Burton Cooley who created the White Birch Resort Company. The scenic northwest shore of White Birch Lake begins its long history as a place to visit for city and suburban folks seeking to relax and enjoy the unspoiled forests and lakes of northern Wisconsin.
During these years the White Birch Resort Company was sold and reclaimed to 4 different owners.
Harold Fultz worked here these two years and shared this piece of history with us: “It was a resort then for a lot of prominent Chicago people. I remember the president of Red Star Yeast Co. would come up. At that time there were five or six cabins. I recall Hillcrest, Balsam fir and Hideaway, but cannot remember the other ones. I remember the bridge and creek as being here then. The ice house was behind Red Oaks or where Red Oaks now stands. Where the spa building is now was a stable with riding horses. They would have to cut hay from across the road. There were also cows across the road. They would keep the fish for guests after they were caught by laying them on top of a chunk of ice and covering them with moss from the swamp.”
Sold to Pat and Kelly Wilsie. The resort was renamed Wilsie’s White Birch Lodge. Pat and Kelly were true resort entrepreneurs! During the years they owned the resort they had weekly meals at the beach, did shore lunch excursions, offered fishing guide services, and had an annual boat parade on the 4th of July and many other events.
Carol Ackerson Malmgren (owner) and her family vacation at Wilsie’s White Birch Lodge for the 1st time. A tradition that is still going on today!
White Birch Fisheries established on the land west of County K.
Highline power arrives. Prior to this date the resort had 5 generators that powered the lodge. It took 2 to produce enough electricity for the lodge. When they overheated they would hook up another 2. One was usually always down for repair.
Aqualand opens. Aqualand was a very well-known wildlife park and petting zoo. School groups by the bus loads came from all over northern Wisconsin and from the UP of Michigan. To this day we still have people stop by and ask us about Aqualand. They share their memories of feeding frogs to the muskies, the goats walking across the swinging bridge, feeding milk bottles to the fawns and baby goats, going into the deer park and feeding the deer and of course giving “bear brew” to “Kodi” the Kodiak bear. At this point in time Pat and Kelly Wilsie took over the operations of Aqualand and Bruce and Jody Wilsie the operations at the resort. Aqualand was open for business for 35 years along with another Aqualand property in Door County for 22 years.
Following is an excerpt from the Green Bay Press-Gazette in 1963.
“The dream of a man who loves animals and nature has resulted in one of the North Country’s most educational and well-patronized tourist attractions. The man is pat Wilsie. The place is Aqualand in Boulder Junction, a 40 acre display of virtually every game and animal native to the state of Wisconsin, along with a lot of others who aren’t.
In 1956, Aqualand opened officially and it has been booming ever since. As many as 1,250 visitors have been checked through the gate in a single day this year and the annual attendance hits better than 72,000. Thousands of school children visit the display in May as part of educational tours and during the summer, the various youth camps in the area bring groups over.
Here is one place where there are no signs forbidding feeding the animals. Children are allowed to feed fawns out of a baby bottle and the tourists toss more than 80 dozen frogs to the muskies and otter each week. Canada Geese come up for corn and grown deer eat out of a tourist’s hand.
The Vilas county display serves as a mecca for photographers and hours of entertainment for thousands, ranging from the big city resident to the serious student of wildlife who may never get as close to a live specimen in the wild as he will to these birds, fish and animals.”
Disney films a one hour nature documentary at Aqualand and the crew stays at the resort. The film was called “Flash The Teen-Age Otter”. It aired on the Sunday night Wonderful World of Disney Program in 1960. The crew used many of the Aqualand animals, including “Flash” the otter in the filming.
The resort is sold to Fred and Arlene Dreyfus
The resort is sold to Carol and Dick Malmgren
The resort reopens its doors as White Birch Village. The restaurant was closed down and full kitchens are built in all the units to become a full housekeeping resort.
The resort purchases the Aqualand property and begins the restoration of the land to create a full nature setting for the resort guests to enjoy.
1982 to present day
The resort goes from having 9 units to 19 units. White Birch Village continues to pride itself in keeping a well-manicured property and well maintained vacation homes. The resort is always adding new opportunities for guest to enjoy the Northwoods.