Emmaville Store, circa 1969

Friday, October 22, 2010

Just where is (and what is) Emmaville?

Emmaville is located about 12 miles north of Park Rapids, Minnesota on County Road 4 (Lake George Road).

According to Wikipedia, Emmaville is "a small, unincorporated community" that "is currently a ghost town."  The first part is true, but Emmaville certainly is not a ghost town! It currently has one full-time resident, Clayton Severtson, who serves as caretaker and unofficial historian.  Although the store has been closed for over a year, the motel and seasonal campground are still in business. 

Although official records are sketchy, Emmaville is believed to have been established over a 100 years ago, initially as a logging camp and boarding house (Park Rapids Enterprise, June 3, 2009).  It's not clear when a store was first established there, but in 1940, the owner, a Mr. Cleghorn, built a "new" store to replace the old one (Enterprise archive). This new store is believed to be what is shown on the postcard with VW Beetle parked in front. 

Emmaville was put on the map, so to speak, in the 60s and 70s by the owner of that era, Cal Jensen. Based on the stories Emmaville patrons have told us, Cal appears to have been a colorful character.  (Mike may have met him once, while on a fishing trip to Lake George with his Grandpa Ray, but that was a long time ago...).  Cal is most remembered for the numerous signs he had put up promoting Emmaville (more on these later).  Cal is also likely the first person to start billing Emmaville as the "Biggest Little Town in the World."  Tourists have been known to come from far and wide to visit the Biggest Little Town in the World and get their pictures taken next to one of Cal's signs.

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