Vermilion Boat and Outing Company

Vermilion Boat and Outing Company boathouse

The Vermilion Boat and Outing Company’s East Two River boathouse located in the Tower harbor. Although the date of this photograph is unknown, the company incorporated in 1910. It is believed that this photo was taken at some point in the second decade of the 20th century.


The tourism business rapidly developed on Lake Vermilion during the last years of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th. The allure of Lake Vermilion and the promotional efforts of Tower business advocates and the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad brought numerous tourists traveling to Tower to “camp” on Lake Vermilion in housekeeping cabins being constructed on the lake. Travelers arrived by passenger train at Tower, Minn. and then were carried up the lake, on large boats, to the summer cottages to enjoy the fishing and beautiful summer weather proffered across Lake Vermilion.

The Vermilion Boat and Outing Company was one of several new businesses developed to offer hospitality to this growing tourist travel.

The Vermilion Boat and Outing Company was incorporated on March 14, 1910. Its corporate mission was defined as such: “The general nature of this business shall be to purchase, lease, rent, erect, maintain and operate cottages, hotels, sanitariums and outing resorts,” according to incorporation papers originally published in the April 8, 1910 pages of The Tower Weekly News.

The organizing board of directors was comprized of Matt Wilson, A. C. Fuller, W. H. Congdon, William Fay and F. E. Kolb, all of Tower, and P. Swanson, R. L. Burns and E. J. Morcom, all of Soudan.

The company quickly developed 10 rental cottages on Isle of Pines, and shuttled customers, from Tower, to Isle of Pines, on its launch named “Tramp.” The outing company later added additional boats including one named “Scout” and another named “Sally” which it acquired by trade for the “Tramp” in a deal with I. Goodwill in 1914.

The company expanded in 1916, selling 20 thousand dollars of additional stock to its current stockholders and commenced building the Hotel Idlewild, at a cost of $10,000.

The June 9, 1922 Tower Weekly News reported that the Hotel Idlewild and three of the Vermilion Boat and Outing Company’s cottages were damaged by a ”twister” which hit Lake Vermilion on June 7. One cottage was completely destroyed. Two new cottages were built by Osterberg & Oberg, contractors, and repairs were made to repair those damaged by the storm in July of the same year.

Like many of Vermilion’s early resorts, the Vermilion Boat and Outing Company has disappeared into the pages of history. The last known mention of the Vermilion Boat and Outing Company resides in the columns of the August 18, 1922 issue of The Tower Weekly News. Lake Vermilion’s local newspaper reported that the Vermilion Boat and Outing Company staged boat races on the lake.

“The course as mapped out extended from Hotel Idlewild around Moose Island, back up around Emerald Isle, finishing at the starting point. A distance of about three miles,” The Weekly News reported. would greatly appreciate learning of any additional history about the Vermilion Boat and Outing Company, Hotel Idlewild, or any other Lake Vermilion history of great or minor interest.

Additional information of interest

Goodwill’s Summer Resort on Lake Vermilion

Tower’s historical relationship with the East Two River

Tower Boat Landing