The Resort Years

The Drought Years
Farmhouse abandoned after successive years of drought, possibly near Breckenridge MN
Credit: Minnesota Historical Society

     To understand what Independence Beach was like in the 1930’s, it’s necessary to understand what was happening all across the Midwest.

     In the 1930’s, during the Great Depression, the entire Midwest suffered through a severe drought, particularly from 1932-37. Temperatures reached record-breaking highs, and all of the area lakes, including Lake Independence, were extremely low. Summer heat waves and frequent dust storms persisted. Winter weather was equally as bad, with extreme temperatures and snowfalls.

     Resort research materials do not mention the drought, but we imagine how difficult this time must have been for Independence Beach resort owners. The water was so low that some of the resort cabins were built on land that is now underwater. It was possible to walk along the shore from Independence Beach to Beer's Point on the south side of the lake. There was no air conditioning in the summer, but the lakeside cottages and cool lake breezes were a welcome respite for families who lived in the city and could afford to spend part of the summer here.

     For the few year-round residents, the winters were equally difficult, with extremely low temperatures and large amounts of snow. A detailed description of these years, Decade of Desolation, notes the weather extremes recorded by the Maple Plain weather station:

 

  • In November, 1931, temperatures were in the ’70’s. On November 16 a small tornado touched down in Maple Plain.

  • During the summer of 1932, the temperature got as high as 101°. Most of the state suffered an infestation of grasshoppers that decimated crops and pastures, devouring entire fields of plantings.

  • In November, 1933, the temperature reached 77°, then plummeted to -27° in December.

  • During April, 1934 the temperature reached a record low of 19° and then three days later surged to 96°.

  • In 1936, during January and February there were days with lows of -36° and -37°; July and August had days of 106° and 110°.​​