Mrs. Byrie Maude Belter fell in love with Manitowish Waters while vacationing in the area. So much so that, after stumbling upon Cedar Lodge, she made the bold decision to purchase the resort on the island in 1931. At that time, the island had eight buildings: a homestead cabin, six rental cabins, and a large cabin that served as a dining area. The hand-hewn log rental cabins had kerosene stoves with refrigerators, linoleum floors, an outhouse, screened-in porches with a swing, and were situated amongst the large pines and birch trees overlooking the water. Maude always had an affinity for trees, so the large pines and birch trees were of special importance to her.
Her decision to apply for a liquor license, which she received shortly thereafter, and convert the dining hall into a bar was perhaps the most significant change since the resort’s inception. While there were many bars in the area, the bar on Belter’s Island turned into a local favorite. Maude advertised singing and dancing every Friday and Saturday night. One Manitowish Waters resident recalls, “Belter’s Island Resort was neat and clean. It was a local bar and run nicely. Lots of music and dancing. She also had a piano she played.”
Maude also changed the way her customers would get to the island. On the south shore, directly across from the resort, a large bell hung with a sign posted below it, “Ring Bell…Belter’s Island.” When the bell would ring, a small rowboat would make its way across the quarter mile stretch of water to pick up its guests. When one wanted to leave, you simply caught a ride going back across.
Mitzi Beaumont, the daughter of Maude, took ownership of the resort in 1949 after her mother’s death. She would continue to carry on many of the traditions established by her mother for another decade.
Other Resorts at this locations since being founded in 1908
Potter , E.C. “Stone, Mud, and Clear Lake .” Outers’ Recreation , July 1918, pp. 30–32.
Belter’s Landing . Manitowish Waters , 1930.
Maude Belter . “Belter’s Island Resort .” Chamber of Commerce , 1936.
“Byrie Belter Obituary.” Iron County Miner, 6 May 1949, p. 5.
Maude Belter . “Belter’s Island Resort .” Chamber of Commerce , 1949.
Laabs, Joyce. “Memories of a Forgotten Island .” The Lakeland Times , 2 Jan. 2009.
Kohl, Janelle. “Interview with Cal LaPorte.” 2010.