The City of Lake Shore is located on the northwestern shore of Gull Lake in Cass County, Minnesota. Lake Shore was founded as a village in 1930; incorporated on March 19th, 1947; and adopted its first land use ordinance in 1969.
One of the areas earliest inhabitants in the area was a group called the Mound Builders who called this area home until about 1840, with some of their burial mounds found in Lake Shore. Other major tribes inhabited the region, including the Sioux, who were eventually driven west by the Ojibwa. Explorers and trappers made their way through the Lakes Region and early settlers engaged in farming and hunting.
In 1880, Charles A. Pillsbury formed the Gull River Lumber company and built a sawmill west of Brainerd. All timber, particularly the white pine, surrounding the lakes was soon cut and, in 1889, tracks were laid for an inland railroad to move logs to the lake for transportation. This narrow-gauge railroad extended some 12 miles northwest from the landing at Gilpatrick Lake (Margaret Lake). By 1894, the surrounding timber had been harvested and the tracks were removed, ending the brief railroad history and intensive logging in Lake Shore. The old railroad grade can still be seen in the western part of Lake Shore.
Early homesteaders along the lake quickly discovered that the area attracted others who wanted to enjoy the lakes and forests. Soon primitive log cabins were constructed to accommodate these first tourists and a new economic era began. The tourist business expanded and resorts of various size and function sprang up along the shores of Gull and Margaret Lakes, with Ozonite, Sandy Beach, and Rocky Point said to be the earliest of these resorts. Many of the resorts were simple “mom and pop” operations with two or three cabins and a small store that provided tourists with necessities such as bread, milk, and eggs. Others were large and grand such as Sherwood Forest and Inwood Lodge.
At this time, gambling was legal and slot machines could be found at some of the resorts and at Bar Harbor, one of Minnesota’s most famous nightclubs. From the approximately 35 resorts existing in the 1930s and 1940s, the number has decreased to just six in 2006: Lykin’s Pine Hurst, Point Narrows, Lost Lake Lodge, Sandy Beach, Agate Lake, and Samara Point. Increasing demand for residential and tourist-oriented lakeshore property has made it profitable to convert resorts to privately owned dwellings and town homes.
Today, the demand for property on the Gull Lake chain has resulted in development of nearly all available shoreline. Lots once considered undesirable now have homes on them and existing structures are being replaced. The demand for second-tier and other off-lake property has also grown. Escalating prices are tempting rural owners to divide land into smaller parcels for residential development. The availability of goods and services in nearby communities along with the proximity to recreation make Lake Shore a desirable community in which to live and to retire. Road improvements and highway expansions, particularly to State Highway 371, have made it easy for metropolitan residents to commute to and from the area. The total population in Crow Wing and Cass Counties is projected to increase by over 60 percent by the year 2030. The Brainerd Micropolitan Statistical Area (defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as including both Cass and Crow Wing Counties), was ranked as the fourth fastest growing micropolitan area in the Midwest, and ranked 28th in the nation. A micropolitan statistical area is a population cluster with at least 10,000 people that is located outside of metropolitan areas. Capturing a segment of this projected growth, the City of Lake Shore is also projected to increase its population by over 60 percent by the year 2030, with an expected total population of more than 1,800 people. Absorbing this population growth in a manner that protects and preserves the characteristics and values important to the community requires forethought and planning.