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After 87 years in one family, this Minnesota resort is getting new owners

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A family that's been synonymous with Gunflint Lake since the days of the Model T is handing the keys to its resort to new owners.

Of course, Bruce and Sue Kerfoot are not giving away the Gunflint Lodge – they're getting more than $6 million for it, Bruce tells the Duluth News Tribune – but their sale of the resort after three generations marks the end of an era.

The buyers, John and Mindy Fredrikson, are making their first venture into the resort industry, the News Tribune says.

Gunflint Lodge history

There's a more complete version of the lodge's history here, but basically it was founded in 1925 by a mother and son who soon decided to focus on their other resort in Wisconsin. In 1929 they sold the Gunflint Lodge to Mae Spunner, whose daughter Justine came up from Illinois to help her run the place.

Justine – who became Justine Kerfoot after her marriage – would spend the rest of her life on Gunflint Lake. She was the driving force in turning the Lodge and its outfitting business into one of northern Minnesota's best-known resorts, navigating the Depression, World War II, and a fire along the way.

Justine is in the Minnesota Hospitality Hall of Fame and was part of a Minnesota Historical Society oral history project.

Her son and daughter-in-law began running things in the late 1960s. A breakthrough came in the early 1990s when the resort was winterized.

Zip-line canopy tours were added in 2012 and Bruce Kerfoot tells the Star Tribune the Gunflint has seen double-digit revenue growth over the past decade.

Dan McElroy, the president and chief executive of Hospitality Minnesota tells the newspaper: “There are a handful of families who have put their mark on resorting in Minnesota, and the Kerfoots certainly have to be one of them.”

As for the buyers, Bruce Kerfoot told the News Tribune John Fredrikson has worked in electronics and Mindy as an attorney in Atlanta.

“I’m optimistic that we are handing it off to somebody with good North Woods values but also good business instincts,” he told the Star Tribune.

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