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1971 Photos and Memories
Staff 71
Front row: Bill Baar, Jeff Byers, Tom Collins, Tucker Webb, Dan Wacks, Gary Walkup, Don Ward, Bruce Troe, Kevin Keefe, Brian Graefe with Deana the German Shepherd, Chuck Lanz, George Keagle

Middle row: Dave Brase, Ralph Swoboda, Susan Swoboda, Steve Dreher. Lee Ray Shurn, Tom (Thos) Brennan, Boyce Dougherty, John French, Glen Hanson, Tom (OT) Adams, Bob Black, Bob (Nick) Schwary, John L. Boehm, Dave Heerdt, Don MacMillan, John E. Boehm, Jean Boehm

Back row: Dan Dunst, Bill Reimer, Larry Brennan, Jim Lovell, Chuck McKinley, Paul Allen, Mark Johnson, Gary Stults, John Huth, Jeff Stapleton, Mike Scholte, Earl Copeland

Missing (on trail): Roger Rosentreter, E. Lee Roane, Boyce Dougherty

Gary Walkup remembers:

I was a party trainer in 1971, and I became friends with one of my crew voyageurs. He asked me what staffers did for excitement, and I told him we went into Minocqua to try to meet the local girls. He inquired if that wasn't somewhat difficult without a car, and I replied that it certainly WAS! At that, he gave me his car keys and told me where it was parked. The next night I had off I proudly drove into Minocqua with my friends' Pontiac and picked up my little sweetie for some unanticipated cruisin' around northern Wisconsin. All good things have to end, so I dropped her off at 11 or so, and headed back to the the middle of a TREMENDOUS thunderstorm. Not being familiar with the roads, I got...uh...slightly bewildered (a Scout is NEVER lost!)I was kinda nervous, didn't have the slightest idea where I was, and so I turned on the radio...and the song that was playing was the Doors "Riders on the Storm" about spooky!!! After that, I was MORE than content to take the van run into Minocqua and just meet my little sweetie at the water ski show!

Lee Roane recalls: "One of the legends of White Sand Lake relates to the heyday of white pine logging in the area. At the back side of training campsite #12 (near the latrine) is an old logging railroad cut that was a part of a spur that ran from White Sand Lake to Star Lake. During the winter the loggers built rails out onto the frozen lakes to make it easier to load the huge piles of saw logs onto the flatcars. In the spring the loggers would remove the rails before the thaw. According to local lore one during an unusual warm spell one of the logging locomotives went through the ice into a deep area of the lake and was never recovered. Glen Hanson, Ralph Swoboda, and other staff members certified in SCUBA made several dives during the summer of 1971 to discover the location of the phantom loco. I don't think they ever found it."

Bill Baar adds: The version of the story I heard had the logging camp running the locomotive and several cars out on the lake to get rid of it. The area had been logged out and there wasn't any need for the narrow gauge railroad so they dumped in the lake so they wouldn't have to haul it out of the area. It was a very cheap dump. I believe Bob Marietta and others with him also attempted to find the locomotive but decided that it must of sunk into the soft sand bottom of the lake.

Bruce Richardson adds: "In 1983, I found a rail that had cracked and been left behind about 250 yards from the lake. It was light duty rail. I broke off a 4' chunk and had my Dad help me lug it home."

Larry Brennan, quite a rail historian elaborates: "I remember Ralph and Glen diving in the lake, looking for the legendary lost locomotive. Other SCUBA staff members included Jimmy Cobb, who was there in 1966 and 1967. He and John Kilgour would put on wetsuits in Room C (which I shared with them in 1966) and heading down to the lake.

Glen and Ralph did find some odd stuff in the lake. There was a large gear- about two feet across- and a small railroad wheel- about the same size or a bit smaller. The wheel was the kind used on handcars or small push cars used by maintenance crews, not an actual car wheel, which would be a solid casting and closer to three feet in diameter- and too much to handle without a hard surface!

These relics sat in the staff lounge for years afterwards. I suppose they were junked when the Base was closed, unless someone thought them interesting enough to take home.

Glen and Ralph also found other bits of old iron down there- I think they had a length of heavy chain, bolts, and old tools. All, of course, heavily rusted.

Logging railroads webbed the area over the years. Some of these became parts of larger systems. As I can reconstruct for what I've read in various sources or in the County Museum in Sayner, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad (later the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific- the Milwaukee Road) had built a branch into Boulder Junction from Star Lake around 1900. This grade runs along the north shore of White Sand Lake, and I drove over it several times in the 1970s. It comes out on Concora Lodge Road- actually, part of Concora Lodge Road IS the old grade. It crossed Old K and turned north to Boulder Junction.

Several years after the line was built, the CM&StP bought a logging railroad's line which ran north from a connection at Arbor Vitae (near Woodruff) north to Boulder, and made that more direct route its Boulder branch, abandoning the line north of White Sand. There were other branches out of Boulder Junction- west into the woods and north to Blue Bill, Michigan. Clara Wilfer of Shrimp's told me she flagged down the train in the Twenties and rode into Minocqua. The line to BJ from Arbor Vitae was abandoned in 1936. It intersected new K about a mile or so west of the junction with M. Its now a snowmobile trail- again, I explored it with my car and bike several times.

The Star Lake line continued into the late Forties. At one time the railroad ran through trains from Chicago to Star Lake. In the early days of the Base, Scouts would sometimes be picked up in a stake truck at Star Lake and brought to the Base.

Look at any of the USCGS maps of the area- you can see the old railroad grades all over the place. The old grades can be easily spotted if you look for them- even logging railroads were obliged to make cuts and fills."

The "Nightstalker": (by Larry Brennan)

"One night in 1973, party or parties unknown slashed several tires in the camper over-flow lot. I don't recall if any cars were broken into. Omer was a bit distraught- aside from the bad PR, we paid for a number of fairly expensive tires as a result.

The overflow lot was further back along Nixon Creek Road. There was not enough room in the parking lot by the Gateway, so after the groups had arrived and checked in, they were asked to move their cars back to the other lot. It was adjacent to Nixon Creek Road, and only a little east of the Woodbadge Lodge, actually, but totally screened from it by the trees. For years the old numbers 5 and 6 trucks- the Duck and the Goose- rusted away in there, too, until hauled off. We had stored cars there for years with no problem. When Woodbadge was in session, they used it as well. It was fairly large and we could store a number of cars back there. And they had hardly ever been molested back there.

Until the tire-slashing incident.

Who knows who did it? It was reported, but nothing ever came of the investigation. It was put down as a random act of vandalism. But Omer couldn't take any chances on that- buying a dozen or so high-priced tires made a significant dent in the budget. So we brainstormed it, and thus was born the Nightstalker. A member of the staff would be assigned the duty of checking the Base on an hourly basis from late at night until dawn, and he would be allowed to sleep in the next day. The duty was assigned on a rotating basis, and in the course of the rest of the summer, almost everyone was hit with it at least once and some twice. I drew up the list- I was always drawing up lists: waiters, dump assistants, you name it- with the aid of the other key staff. Even department heads took a turn at this dreaded duty.

A cot was set up in the office, and a large flashlight and boat horn was provided. The Nightstalker (as the position was immediately termed) was to do a circuit of the camp at intervals during the night, checking around the buildings, the staff lot, the parking lot by the Gateway, and ending with the hike back to overflow parking.

It was pretty hateful. After all, would you enjoy strolling up Nixon Creek Road at 3 in the morning on a dark, cold night? Bears DO roam these woods, as well as skunks, porcupines and who knows what else went bump in the night. The imagination made it worse, of course. Bats and bugs zoomed and zipped by your head and face. It's surprising that no one ever set off that damned boat horn. Rainy nights were even more delightful.

At any rate, it was an obvious pawn for the PR Unbirthday Party that year, and Joan Catherine Brennan put in an appearance as the Nightstalker. She was dressed in a pith helmet or hard hat, a raincoat, boots, and was muffled about the face so thoroughly that no one recognized her as she prowled in the darkened Dininghall to the music- a tune which ran something like "I know where you are going- because I- I am the turkey!" accompanied by wild gobbling noises- it was so appropriate. She moved in jerky lurches on tiptoe, as if trying to sneak up on an unknown villain.

By the end of the summer, the duty faded away. In succeeding years, no one ever brought up the need for late night security again- except in jest, and usually to a rather a rude reception.

But the legend still persists that late on moonless nights, along Nixon Creek Road, a lone figure in a black raincoat, carrying a large, industrial-strength flashlight and a pressure-can boat horn, still roams, as if on a quest, seeking who knows what."