Crookneck Lake is located in central Minnesota near the City of Motley, Minnesota, in Morrison County, and is approximately 100 miles northwest of the Minneapolis – St. Paul metropolitan area. See MotleyGallery. The lake is approximately 200 acres in size which, places it in the upper 20 percentile of Minnesota’s lakes in terms of surface area (MnDNR, 1968). The lake has a mean depth of 8.9 feet and its maximum depth is 22 feet. The watershed land area to lake surface area ratio is 2.4:1. Water Quality Index.
Crookneck Lake Historical Summary
From information furnished by the lake association, the area around Crookneck Lake was the scene of early development pressure. The lake has also been known as Lake McDonald.
In 1962 there were two cabins built on the lake. Both properties were purchased from the Lampert Lumber Company of Little Falls. Each cabin, on a one acre site with well and septic system sold for $3,000. Early in the summer of 1962, a California developer named Don Eastvold, who was originally from Brainerd, Minnesota and his wife, Ginny Simms, who had been a singer with the then popular band of Kay Kyser from the 1940’s era, replatted the area from 100 foot lots to 50 foot lots and started a vacation home concept . This project was called the Ginny Simms Lake Estates. See Postcard. See The Milwaukee Journal paper dated Sunday, July 15, 1962. Each lot sold for $1,600 and those purchasing a lot on the first day of viewing it received a $400 rebate.
The A frame structure on the west bay was the Ginny Simms model. Ginny Simms also had a development on Lake Shamineau.The building on the corner of Shamineau Road and County Road 203 was the sales office and later the clubhouse for the development. All forms of recreation were available for the first year or so, including ball fields, swimming pool, tennis courts, volleyball, and horseback riding. A boat access for members was also maintained.Almost all of the lots sold in the first summer, and the remaining few sold in the next one to two years. The last lot to sell was the one next to the model. The purchase of a lot also included a full year membership in the Scandia Valley Lake Estates.
The developer also attempted to cut a channel between Lake Crookneck and Lake Shamineau on the far east end. The Department of Natural Resources vetoed the idea because Lake Crookneck is at a higher level than Lake Shamineau.
Don Easttvoid and Ginny Simm moved on and developed Breezy Point.
The Scandia Valley Dump was established on the west end of the lake. The dump has since closed and all solid waste is hauled out.
The public access was developed in July of 1980. The Scandia Valley Lake Estates had funds of $4,500 but it was in disarray. It took 18 years for it to disband. The members had maintained the clubhouse the entire time, which included the swimming pool, riding horses and tennis courts.
The Lake Crookneck Improvement Association (LCIA) (a non-profit organization) was started in July of 1980. With the Scandia Valley Lake Estates folding, the members could either receive their money or vote to have it contributed to the LCIA. The LCIA had 35 members.
Other Historical Factors
The lake rose between 6 to 8 inches between 1962 and 1977. In July of 1972, there was one week of excessive flooding (referred to as the Randall flood by the local community). The lake was high for the first time and stayed that way for awhile but then gradually lowered.
There was a sandbar between the two points between the west bay and the main part of the lake. In 1962, the lake was shallow enough to permit walking across the two points. Some residents believe that a channel was then dredged out, but others do not recall the dredging.
The cutting of the aquatic vegetation in the bay by a commercial harvester started in 1981. Coontail used to be the predominant vegetation in the lake, which is 95% gone. The replacement is a broad leaf type of vegetation. The aquatic vegetation bed on the south side of the lake has narrow leaf vegetation. Cutting has continued on a schedule of at least once per year, and most of the time twice a year. A total of $26,000 has been spent on mechanical harvesting of the vegetation. A small Hockney weed cutter was also purchased in 1981 for $5,000. The Hockney was used by lake residents to cut the vegetation 100 feet in to shore.
According to the lake association members, the vegetation growth is less noticeable in years of heavy snowfall. The west bay has always had a vegetation problem.
The water level has fluctuated over the years. Local speculation is that the springs that were feeding the lake dried up during the drought of the late 1980’s.
It is believed that there was a complete freeze-out in the early spring (April) in the 1960’s.
In addition, the surveys identified 15 residences as year round.
Information from the Book “A Chosen Place” Land of Lake, Pine and Prairie. Lincoln-Scandia Valley-Rail Prairie. Produced by Nordel Graphics Communications, Inc. Staples MN 56479.
As late as 1922 the Northern Pacific Railroad Company owned all but the south shore of Crookneck Lake. The south shore was owned by the Mengelkochs, Henry and Susan who also owned the farm across the road. It had been called McDonald Lake, possibly by J.B. McDonald whose name was mentioned in 1888 Motley Registers as living in this area. The Mengelkochs bought their property from Christna Johnson in 1909.
This was a quiet lake until a development company took over in the 1960’s. With Ginny Simms as a masthead they aggressively sold their platted lots, both lakeside and off shore. Robert Sanders was hired to cut and grade roads throughout the development. The “tree” lanes with homes and cabins on each side took over land north of county road 203. An association was formed with a club house, tennis court, swimming pool and space for other sports. So Crookneck became one more popular developed lake.