Sep 20 2011

Eat Like a Lumberjack

While staying at Sleeping Fawn Resort in Park Rapids, Minnesota, I came across a brochure for the Rapid River Logging Camp.  Because my grandmother spent much of her childhood in a logging camp in northern Michigan, places like this and the Forest History Center have always intrigued me so that I could see firsthand what her surroundings were like.

The Forest History Center is a living history museum with an interpretive center, preserving the logging camp for visitors who want to see what the buildings and lifestyles in the camp were like.

Rapid River Logging Camp has some original buildings and equipment that visitors are allowed to explore, but the real draw there is the food, all-you-can-eat breakfast or dinner served family-style in the logging camp mess hall.   The combination of the menu and ambience was enough for us to give it a try, so we headed over to the logging camp for breakfast.

Payment is made upon entering the complex, at the gift shop register.  For breakfast, which is served from 7:30 a.m. to noon, the price is $8.25 for adults and $5.25 for children ages 3-9, which includes food, milk, coffee, juice, and tax, but not tips. For our family, the total was about the same as a breakfast at Perkins.

After you’ve paid, you go to the entrance of the dining hall itself and are directed to a table set with tin serviceware just as in the lumberjack days.  (During busy times, you may have to wait, but we were seated right away.)

When your server arrives, you place your order, which is basically how many eggs you want and how you want them cooked — scrambled or “softies” — and what you would like to drink.  The pancakes, ham, and hash browns will be replenished as often as you like.

The first food to arrive at our table was a bowl of prunes, something that was very common at lumberjack meals.  Then the platters of the rest of our meal arrived.  Our eyes got big as we saw the huge amount of food placed in front of us.

It was good.  Really, really good.  Our ten-year-old son took off after the ham, which was delicious, and I dug into the just-right hash browns and eggs.  The girls ate pancake after pancake, and when I finally got to one, I saw why they liked them so well.  Everything was hot off the griddle and it’s the best breakfast I’ve had in a long, long time.

We didn’t think we’d be able to eat it all.

But we did.

And then we asked for more, and finished that as well.  (The only thing we didn’t clean up was the prunes.)

Finding a restaurant that all of us like is a challenge, so it was a testament to the Rapid River Logging Camp that all the kids wanted to go back the next day to eat again.  (We didn’t, because my stomach was still full from the previous day’s meal.)

After we ate, we explored the outbuildings; marked trails along a creek are also available to help walk off the meal you’ve just finished.

If a big breakfast isn’t your thing, dinner is served from 1-9 p.m. daily, with an all-you-can-eat menu of roast beef, chicken, ham, roast port, and ribs.  Sounds good to me!

Rapid River Logging Camp is located on County Road 18 north of Park Rapids, Minnesota; follow the signs.  It’s open daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.  Call 218-732-3444 for more information.  When you go, be sure to take your appetite!

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