Iowa home sales, prices see strongest third quarter in 8 years

McClelland’s Beach residents know this is a hidden paradise. It’s interesting that many Iowa communities are getting a lot of attention from the media.

“Our communities have been receiving a lot of national attention from magazines and online media outlets. Iowa truly is a great place to grow!”
– IAR President Jon Yocum

Get the full story at

Read also, Home again: US-flag swimsuits, Coors, Cheez-Its and cannonballs off the dock.

Home again: US-flag swimsuits, Coors, Cheez-Its and cannonballs off the dock

Ed Bartels and friends fishing - McClleland's' Beach - historic photo.
Ed Bartels, left, and friends with a big fish haul – McClleland’s’ Beach – Spirit Lake – historic photo.

Up north is Spirit Lake, which tends to be quieter, and more of a place for the locals to boat and fish. It is, however, the state’s largest natural lake and known for some of the best fishing in the area. So it’s worth an angler’s effort to get there.
– Josh Noel, Chicago Tribune

When the Chicago Tribune takes notice, you know you’ve got something, especially after you’ve just hauled in the big one off your dock at McClelland’s Beach. This is a wonderful piece on the “coming home” effect of the Iowa Great Lakes vacation areas. Read the full story.

Learn more about the real estate climate and McClelland’s Beach community.

U.S. builders start houses at fastest pace since 2007 Great Recession

For McClelland’s Beach residents who may be wondering about all the sudden building activity …

“More housing starts means more construction jobs as well as confidence from real estate developers that people will be buying. We’ll know the economy is really hitting stride when we see these starts in the range of 1.5 million.”
– Tara Sinclair, George Washington University professor, chief economist for job site Indeed

Read the full story.


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Beach residents: Yummy largemouth bass lurking under your boat hoist?

Looks like McClelland’s Beach fisherpersons are in for a good weekend based on the DNR’s report!

Big Spirit Lake

Largemouth Bass – Good: Fish are being caught under boat hoists around the lake. Fish jigs, wacky worms, or spinner baits. Go out into 8-9 feet of water and fish the inside and outside edge of weed lines with Texas rigs, drop shots, swimbaits, or crankbaits. During the evening smallmouth are hitting top water along the west shore. Walleye – Good: Local anglers are catching walleye around 7:00 till dark at the North Grade. Fish above and below the slot are being caught and creeled. Successful anglers are using jigging raps, bobber and leech, or just jigging a leech. Walleyes are also being caught along the weed line in Anglers bay in 16-17 feet of water. This weed line runs east to west and larger walleyes are swimming along this edge. Fish jigs tipped with a leech. Yellow Perch – Excellent: Yellow perch are biting on the south end right in 12-20 feet of water. Use small jigs and wigglers. Black Bullhead – Fair: The bullhead bite at the north grade is slowing. Creeled anglers are taking home single digits of 12-14 inch fish. The most successful anglers are leaving the worm on the bottom and fishing around submerged vegetation. Northern Pike – Good: Anglers using weedless frogs or surface lures back in the north grade in the dense weeds are catching smaller northerns.
— Fishing Report, July 30, Iowa DNR

Escape in 35 minutes, get new winery’s exciting gold-medal winner

This looks like a fun, quick trip from McClellands Beach.

Round Lake Vineyards and Winery, which celebrated its grand opening just one month ago and has not completed its first full year of commercial wine production, took home a gold medal for its Frontenac Gris and won bronze medals for two other wines in a regional contest hosted by the Iowa Culinary Institute. Read the full story in the Jackson County Pilot.

Round Lake Vineyards and Winery is only about a 35-minute drive from McClelland’s Beach. The winery features live music by Fishin’ for Olives, Sunday, July 26, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Railroad depot museum a treasure trove of Dickinson County history

Photo from the Dickinson County Museum website.

“We even have the hand-written manuscript for ‘A History of Dickinson County,’ written by R.A. Smith in 1902. That right there is one of the more unique things here — it’s the only copy in the world, obviously.”
– Cindy Schubert, museum director

It looks plain on the outside, but inside the old railroad depot you’ll find a treasure trove of history and examples of life back in the good old days.

The Dickinson County Museum is packed with artifacts and history buffs will love it. You will probably want to visit more than once. Read the entire Dickinson County News feature on this and other museums in the area.

Read about Margaret McClelland’s brush with an outlaw.

Get directions to the Dickinson County Museum.

Younger Margaret McClelland’s story of her brush with the outlaw

Experiences of the younger Margaret McClelland regarding the history of McClelland’s Beach, Spirit Lake, Iowa, 51360

See Margaret’s original, handwritten account.

Some early experiences in the county, of Miss Margaret McClelland, now Mrs. S. E. Woolworth

I came to Jackson Co. with my parents from Biron, Ogle Co., Illinois, when but five years of age. My father bought a farm from a man who had tired of the west and being separated from his wife and family, had given up farming. At this time the county was covered with wild grass which grew very tall and in the fall there were many terrible prairie fires which it was necessary to fight day and night in order to save the little settlement. Some of the people lived in sod houses.

When I was sixteen years of age my father started a general store at the south end of Loon Lake which my sister Mary and I had to tend. One day, as I was alone at the store, a man on horseback rode up, asked for a drink of water which I gave him then inquired if I knew of a place he could find work for a few days, as his horse had become lame. I told him father would hire him, as it was in harvest and we needed help to shock oats. In the morning father told him where to go to work. This man took his horse to the field with him and all of the three weeks he worked for us the horse was never 20 feet from him. He was not very lame as one day I had occasion to try him out. Our cattle got in a neighbor’s field and as I was running to get them out, this fellow told me to take his horse which I did, and he went like the wind as there was no lameness about him. I enjoyed it as there never was a horse too fast for us girls, nor a gun we could not shoot. So we had many meals of ducks and geese in those glorious days when wild game was free and plentiful. Well, this man proved to be Henry Gardner, the outlaw of the Younger gang. After leaving our place he was going through Sioux City. The officers who were on the lookout for him chased him up the streets, shooting at him. An editor’s son from Sioux City was at our home during the time this man Gardner was there and wrote us about his being in Sioux City.

He was not killed at that time, but was later. At one time my father saw the pictures of the Younger Boys’ gang and easily recognized the picture of our hired man.

In our family there were nine girls and two boys at home until grown up. Then father would invite the neighbors for a dance, get two of the old time fiddlers who played all night for $2 – apiece, start at eight o’clock and not go home until the sun began to shine in the morning, then milk the cows and go to the field for a day’s work. Think of the difference between today and 56 years ago. If I had my life to live over again – give me the good old days. Everybody trapped muskrats and had plenty of money.

Do any of you old settlers remember when Rob Guhlke and I took first prize for the best Polka – we danced in the red school house.

There were a great many Indians when we came here, mostly friendly but tricky. On morning when father went to milk he found three of them milking his cows.

The winters were very severe with many snowstorms which lasted three days at a time.

We had the school at our house for the winter and one time there was a storm which lasted for several days and the children all stayed until the storm was over so we had school right along.

Learn how Margaret McClelland’s father, William, was a hero in 1866.

McClelland’s Beach founder was a hero in 1866

William and Margaret McClelland - founders - McClellands Beach - Spirit Lake - Iowa - 51360Our beach’s founder, William McClelland, took heroic action in 1866 when he found a woman starving to death, and so weak she could not sit up. Demonstrating the hospitality still present in the community today, William took the woman in, according to an officer quoted in An Illustrated History of Jackson County, Minnesota. Many settlers, especially new, late-season arrivals, struggled to survive in the harsh winter of 1866-67 because they failed to bring or put up enough food.

McClelland’s Beach, Spirit Lake, Iowa, appears in this Minnesota history because by crossing the road on our northern boundary, you cross the state line.

Learn much more about the lake’s history in the book, originally published in 1910.

When at the lake, do as the Great Lakeians (sp?) do

So those of you lucky enough to have a place at McClelland’s Beach, remember, it’s a “cottage”, not a “cabin”. Whether you moved here 60 years ago or yesterday, you’ll enjoy these tips.

“Unique to the Iowa Great Lakes is the use of the word “cottage” to describe your dwelling on the lake. “Cabins” can be found in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Colorado but you own a “cottage” at the Iowa Great Lakes.”
— Aubrey LaFoy, Dickinson County News

Read the rest of the article on what real Iowa Great Lakeians do.