Located somewhat centrally at the northern end of Big Spirit Lake, Mini-Wakan State Park offers users a boat ramp, ice fishing access in the winter, and several areas within the park to fish along the shoreline. Big Spirit Lake is the largest natural lake in Iowa.
A recently restored and upgraded 1930's Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) day-use lodge within Mini-Wakan is available seasonally for gatherings such as wedding, birthday parties, and reunions. Currently, paved parking is limited, but users may park on the grass.
The restoration of the Mini-Wakan State Park was a joint venture by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR) and the Spirit Lake Protective Association.
With the Iowa DNR’s help, the shelter house was designated a priority within the State of Iowa’s Restore Iowa funding plan during the 1990’s. Unfortunately, money for the program was cut before Mini-Wakan was restored. During a public input meeting in the fall of 2007 the Iowa DNR reaffirmed the restoration of Mini-Wakan as a priority. The members of the SLPA strongly favored restoring and upgrading the building rather than demolishing and rebuilding it because of its historic significance. A committee was formed to develop a restoration plan for the property. The committee included local residents as well as representatives from the Iowa DNR.
The SLPA conducts their July 3rd Pancake Breakfast and their Annual meeting in August at this location.
Reservations can be made through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website by clicking the link below.
Mini-Wakan and Gull Point State Park shelters embody places of history, education, celebration and solace.
We cherish these shelters because of the quality of life they provide. It is imperative we secure their future for generations to come.
Because the state of Iowa is a self-insurer, there are no separate insurance policies to repair damages to either shelter. The funds generated from rent of these two shelters are not dedicated to the maintenance of the buildings.
The monies that are available for building maintenance will barely cover minimal upkeep. There is no “stash” to draw upon if there is major damage from an event at either shelter. We cannot allow repairs to be ignored to the point they become too expensive to fix.
For these reasons the Spirit Lake Protective Association and the Okoboji Protective Association created an endowment to be used in case of major repairs needed for either building.
The Endowment is established as a charitable organization by the Spirit Lake and Okoboji Protective Associations. Funds within the Endowment are invested with Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines thru affiliation with Okoboji Foundation. Use of the funds in the Endowment is determined through a Board of Directors. The Board is appointed jointly by the Spirit Lake and Okoboji Protective Associations. Donations of up to $20,000 may qualify for Endow Iowa tax incentives.
Please send your tax deductible donations to:
Mini-Wakan and Gull Point Endowment
Spirit Lake Protective Association
P.O. Box 51
Spirit Lake, Iowa 51360
History of Mini-Wakan State Park
In 1933, President Roosevelt signed legislation establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps as a means to put up to 500,000 unemployed men to work during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. To implement this plan, the Army was placed in charge of providing housing, clothing and meals for the enrollees in the CCC. The National Park Service was to provide work sites and tasks for the young workers to complete. These workers were to be paid $30 per month, with $25 of this pay being sent home to their families.
In 1933 and 1934 young men from towns in northwest Iowa were recruited to form Company 778 of the CCC. In 1934 they constructed the shelter house on 12 ½ acres of land purchased by the community and established as Mini-Wakan State Park on the north shore of Big Spirit Lake. They constructed other amenities also, including a “grade road”, a picnic and parking area, stone gate pillars and extensive rip rap along the shore of Big Spirit Lake.
Although the shelter building was used frequently in its early years, maintenance was neglected due to lack of funding and as a result, the building has deteriorated significantly over the years except for its well constructed stone walls.
Currently, we are trying to collect stories of the CCC Company No. 778, Milford, Iowa. If you or someone you know had a relative who worked on the Mini-Wakan State Park, please contact Joe Ulman. We'd like to hear from you!
The following address was given by Joe Ulman, Chair of the Mini-Wakan Committee of the Spirit Lake Protective Association at the dedication of the Restored Shelter and grounds on August 22, 2012. It details the community effort to save the site.
On this day five years ago, the Department of Natural Resources offered a challenge to partner with them to save Mini-Wakan State Park. I’m here today to report that “we got ‘er done”.
On behalf of the Mini-Wakan Committee of the Spirit Lake Protective Association, I welcome you to this Open House for the Restored Mini-Wakan. My name is Joe Ulman and I have been Chairman of the Committee that was charged to coordinate the effort.
Before I get started with our program, we have some dignitaries with us. First would Senator David Johnson please stand and be recognized. Thank you Senator Johnson for your interest and support for our project. Also with us is Greg Drees, Chairperson of the Iowa Natural Resources Commission. Greg has activity monitored our efforts and has frequently given us encouragement as we have move forward. Thank you Greg for joining us tonight.
There is only one purpose for this event. It is to thank you for the critical part each of you have played in getting us to this point. Without your help, we would not be standing in this beautifully restored building today. In the fireside room, there is a Donor’s corner that lists the major donors. Please check it out. While you are there, also check out the wonderful CCC worker that was carved by Allan Duus. He also designed and built the two top cabinets. The cabinets on the bottom with the glass shelving were done by DNR staff. One holds mementos of this site’s history, the other displays memorabilia of this fundraising effort.
With a project this size, there are many additional individuals and groups that deserve special recognition. First I’d like to mention Sheriffa Jones, who helped us get this site on the National Register of Historic Places and to obtain a Historic Site Preservation Grant. Throughout the process, she helped us remember the incredible history of Mini-Wakan. In respect for that history, we have invited relatives of the CCC workers who built Mini-Wakan to join us tonight. Would they please stand to be recognized.
Many local organizations helped our efforts financially. I’ll mention a few. Thank you, Okoboji Foundation, for your early support. In addition to moving us towards our monetary goal, you gave our effort credibility. Thanks also to the Dickinson County Endowment for twice awarding grants for our efforts.
Thank you to the people who led our major fund-raising events:
Jim Howard for the Opry at the Sami 1 and 2
Lori Madsen and Twetten’s Interiors for the Home Tour
Jane Ford for the Art Project
Juliana Mayne and Deidre Rosenboom for the Art for the State Parks, Art Auction
Lisa Roti and Home Instead Senior Care for the Mini-Wakanathon
Each of these events involved many additional people. For example, the Art Project utilized original art that was created specifically for our Mini-Wakan project. Some of the artists have joined us tonight. Would they please stand up and be recognized?
Without the Art Project and the other major fund raising events, we would not only be short of our fund raising goal, but our community would not have been energized to get behind the effort to save Mini-Wakan and have this work completed.
Thanks also for those that are making tonight special. Special mention goes to: Juliana Mayne, Jane Ford, Gretchen Graff and Nancy Pfundt. They are responsible for all parts of the planning and completion of this event. Thanks also to John Mayne and the other members of the string quartet for our beautiful music. Thanks to Yesterdays for the great food and the break they are giving us on the catering prices!
We all also owe a great big thank you to our partners in the Parks Bureau of the Department of Natural Resources.
John Maehl, the first Regional Supervisor we worked with who challenged us to take this project on. John assurance that if we “kept at it” we could complete the job meant a lot.
Frank Rickerl, the Regional Supervisor that picked up the ball from John and was our constant connection with the Department. Thanks for your support and hard work.
Jeff Felts, our DNR Engineer. Thanks for listening and incorporating our ideas into the plan.
Angela Corio, State Parks Planner. Your experience in designing and furnishing park properties led us to this beautiful conclusion.
Kevin Scodronski. Your steady leadership helped us across rough patches and has been truly appreciated.
One family has been particularly supportive to the renovation effort. Both through their substantial monetary donations and on-going consultation, Irving Jensen and his family have positively affected the progress and outcome of this endeavor.
Before I close, I want to give a special and personal thanks to all the people on the Mini-Wakan Committee.
Juliana Mayne, Gretchen Graff, Nancy Pfund,
Blaine Strampe, Allan Duus, Jim Howard,
Sheriffa Jones, Rob Oldson, Gayla Kendall
Jane Ford, Harry Perkins, Mike Hood,
Meeting monthly since October 2007, this group logged more than 3,000 volunteer hours, made presentations to more than 2,000 people and traveled more than 3,000 miles. Somewhere during the miles and meetings, I am happy to report we moved beyond being just colleagues and became friends. Thanks for all your work. Thanks for your friendship.
Tonight is our Committee’s last function. However, there continues to be work to be done to protect Mini-Wakan and the Shelter at Gull Point. As you probably know, an Endowment has been established to provide funding for future major repairs to either structure. Efforts to increase the size of the Endowment continue. For example, the proceeds from the sale of art prints and cards being done tonight by Gayla Kendall will go for the Endowment.
That’s it, enjoy the evening.