Lake Charlotte Improvement Association

Oak Ridge View 1960 – 2012


The Lake Charlotte Improvement Association was organized as a non-profit organization on September 29, 1966. At that time the majority of the members owned seasonal cabins.  There were a couple of year around homes on the west side of the lake.  One was where Bruce and Joyce Stecker live now.  It was then by owned by Eddie Behr. Eddie owned and operated a gasoline station in Crystal.  My home was in Crystal so I was acquainted with him. I do not recall what other permanent residents were on the lake at that time. Harvey Hayes and his wife Leona resided on the south side.  Mr. Hayes owned the land that was platted as Charlotte shores in 1955 lots 1-23 and lot 053207 (presently 521 Halsey Ave. NE. Joe Francis).

The original motivation to form the association as I recall was the perceived conflict between various lake uses such as fishing vs. recreation, boating vs. swimming, etc.

I do recall a couple of stormy meetings however it all seemed to work out. I remember one meeting when an old Gentleman (at least 30 years my senior at the time) gave us a rather long lesson on meandered lakes and streams.  That was during a discussion about property lines, did ownership stop at the water’s edge or did it extend out into the lake?  At that time the lake was very low in fact, as low as I can remember.  We were not acquainted with the normal ordinary high water level. We younger ones listened with the greatest respect even though we thought the old gent was spewing baloney.  Now that I have reached the status of elderly I hope this history will gain your individual respect even though you may have the same feeling that we had at that time.  I also recall one meeting where the land owners were reminded that they had not purchased a lot with a bathtub attached.  So the early meetings of the Association were not always quiet and peaceful never-the-less the Lake Charlotte land owners did accomplish several improvements as well as resolving most of the conflicts.  A few of these are listed below.         

From Wagon Trails to Asphalt Roads

Some time in the 1960’s I remember going with Mr. Vernon Kroel Lot 62-63, Mr. CJ (Doc) Thielmann Lot 59 and Mr. Otto Howe Lot 65 to the Frankfort Township meeting.  We attended to back up Mr. Earl Dixon’s request that the Township take over the road along the lake. They agreed on the basis that it would be moved to its proper location which was just a few feet further from the lake shore. It was moved and upgraded from the classification of Wagon Trail to a Township Road. We did not live at the lake during the week so most of the work on the road was done in our absence.

I am not certain who did most of the work on the road but suspect most of it may have been by the local farmers using their equipment.  They hauled in loads of gravel and laid down such a thick layer that it was nearly impossible to drive through it.  The first time we came out and tried to drive to our lot we were stuck.  I tried to drive through the ditch to solid ground.  In doing this the car became hung up on the edge of the ditch.  I do not remember how we got out of that predicament. I probably walked to Dixons’ to get him to come with his caterpillar to pull us out.  This was a rather common occurrence and Earl was always willing to help.  I do not remember what the situation of the Rockford Township end of the road was at that date. I believe the road coming off of County Road 33 was moved closer to Lake Martha at that time. The existing power line was not moved to the new right of way at that time. More houses were built along the lake and as families moved in the road became more heavily used.

The majority of the land owners along Halsey Ave. NE in Frankfort TWP wanted the Township Board to consider upgrading the road with a bitimuminous asphalt surface. Several different dust control products had been tried including the latest called Black Magic.  It was an oil based product, messy and objectionable in hot weather.

Mr. CJ (Doc) Thielmann led a successful petition drive in 1990 for a road improvement.  The petition was presented to the Township Board and they approved.   The work was completed in 1991.  The cost was assessed to each land owner of lots 41-81 in Oak Ridge View.  The Rockford Township Supervisors declined to consider upgrading Halsey Ave. SE at that time.  I recall one meeting at the Rockford TWP hall when the reason for not doing the road was explained as follows, “If and when sanitary sewer is installed the road would be dug up again.  Sewer lines at that time were always put down in the middle o f the roads.”  Methods and procedures do change. (See sanitary sewer this history)

The high water in the lake was not a concern in the 1960’s. In fact there may have been more concern about the lakes drying up.  The Newspapers had several items and pictures of lakes in the center of the State showing cabins and boat docks in mud fields where the lakes had gone down so far.  One day in 1961 while I was working on the cabin, a couple parked on the road and came down to talk to me.  They were interested in buying lake property.  They just could not understand why I had not checked on the possibility of the lake drying up.  I do not believe they bought a lot on Charlotte.  The lake did get very low.  The outlet to the North Bay was so low that one could wade across and boats had to rowed as the water was to shallow for outboard motors. Emmy Thielmann and my wife Pat had a party one Sunday afternoon for the Nuns from St. Raphaels in Crystal.  The sisters decided to walk around the lake along the shore line.  When they waded across the bay outlet one of them fell in. They had to dry her clothes in the sun before taking her back to the convent. 

Speaking of walking around the lake Doc Thielmann and his sons Lloyd and Danny and I with my boys Mike and Tim walked around Lake Martha one afternoon.  I do not remember any buildings or structures on Martha as that time. It was all farm land and the lake was very low. I found a swarm of baby bullheads in a water filled horse’s foot print. They were isolated from the lake and probably would not survive.  I thought I would rescue them and just flip them out into the lake water.  This was a bad decision.  When I reached in with a bare finger I received a sting. On closer examination I found out these tiny creatures had a horn just like their elders. At this stage of development it is a sharp transparent needle.  My finger was very sore for many days.


Digging and Damming Era

 The water level of Lake Martha is 12.7 feet above the normal high water level of Lake Charlotte.  It is apparent that if a channel was made between the two lakes that Lake Martha would go dry.   In fact Earl Dixon told me that at one time the possibility of digging a channel between the two lakes was explored.  They were told by the DNR that is exactly what would happen.  However, the old myth still exists that at one time there was a navigable channel between the two lakes.  If so it was probably before the white man’s appearance on the scene.  I am not certain when the lakes recovered from the 1960’s low water levels.  Then the overflow from Martha would run through the natural creek to Charlotte.  This probably was in the 1970’s.  The higher water level did cause a problem for some of the landowners on the South and West side of Lake Charlotte.

Most of these lots had been purchased when the lake was low.  Now in 1970 the waves were lapping at their door steps. That is when the era of digging and damming occurred.    

The Charlotte folks were said to have tried to dam the creek to prevent the run off from Martha.  Then the Martha people would dig it out to maintain the level of their lake.

I am not sure how much of this actually went on but a problem did exist for some time.

In 1989 the two lake associations got together to solve the problem. They shared the expense of constructing a permanent concrete arch culvert at the Martha outlet. This was at an elevation of 968.1 MSL(mean sea level) as prescribed by the State Department of Natural Resources.  A fish screen was placed at the Charlotte end of the creek to stop unwanted bullheads.  This screen maintenance is the responsibility of the Lake Charlotte Association.  This settled the problem no more digging and damming. Jeff Kennedy was Chairperson of the Association and was instrumental completion of this project.



A water transparency test (SECCHI DISC) was started in 1985.  Mike McDonough conducted this test each year from 1985 to 1998.  The test consists of lowering a shiny disk in the water and recording the depth when it is no longer visible.  Four or five readings at the same locations are taken each month from June 15th to September 15th .

The results are sent to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.  The agency does publish a report ranking all the tested lakes in Minnesota.  Lake Charlotte has always registered high with excellent clarity.  Bob Henke carried on the tests from 1998 to 2003.  When the Henke’s moved from the lake, Bruce Stecker took over the testing in 2003. In 2006 the LID Board took over testing 5 times during the summer and continues as of this writing, September 2015.   In the late 1980’s a sample of the lake water was taken to a private laboratory for testing for fecal-chlorophyll pollution.  This was done annually and the tests indicated that the lake water was within acceptable levels.  The Association was advised in about 1992 by a PCA expert that the fecal-chlorophyll test could be dropped unless the Seechi Disk test indicated deterioration the water quality.



The Lake Charlotte Improvement Association has organized and sponsored many annual social events over the years.  We do not have a record of when the Spring Social was started but it has been very successful each year.  The location for this event has been as varied as the date from February to May.  It has been held at the Monti-Club to Medina Ballroom, from Buffalo to St. Michael, from Rockford to Albertville Golf Course.  The earliest one that I can recall was held at the Supper Club at Hiway 55 & Co. Rd. 33.  The event is usually an evening dinner and an opportunity for neighbors to become acquainted. This excellent social event is always enjoyed by those in attendance.

The summer fishing contest for all families and friends is an old standby.  Generally it is more fun (especially for the kids) than for the number of fish caught.  Prizes for various categories such as size, species, and number caught are awarded.  The date for the fishing contest is set by the Board and has varied from June to September.

 Several years ago (probably in the early 1990’s) the Association started the parade of boats on the Fourth of July.  The boats, pontoons and other watercraft all decorated and flying flags etc. would gather in the North Bay and at noon they parade all the way around the lake.  It is a beautiful event and it is surprising to see how many water craft there are around the lake.


LAKE DIRECTORY                                                                                    

One of the Lake Improvement Association’s very successful projects is the publishing of the Directory of Residents around the lake. This has proved to be helpful in keeping the neighborhood tied to gather.   The earliest copy of directory that I have on hand is dated June 1995.  We are certain that the directory was published and distributed earlier on flat 8 1\2 X 11 pages. In the 1980’s Diana Chalupsky the Association Chairperson, made up and printed the directory in the present format.  It is now published on a two year basis.   I wonder it any of the residents around the lake has a copy of the directory before 1995?


CRIME ALERT SIGNS                                         

Those tired, old worn out tired looking, neighborhood crime alert signs that you see along Halsey Ave. were put up by the Lake Association. We are not certain what year but it was when the Law Enforcement agencies were encouraging local awareness of possible criminal activities.  The LCIA purchased signs and the posts.  A group of members placed the signs.  That program also included a method of marking personal items: ie. Televisions, appliances, and other household items so they could be identified if stolen and later recovered.   An electric engraving pen was provided by the Association for the resident’s use. The success of that effort is unknown, on the other hand, no break ins or burglaries has occurred.  Perhaps the neighborhood watch signs were very effective in prevention.  I think Mike Schmitt was the Association Chairperson at that time.



 When the Eurasian Watermilfoil took root in some Minnesota Lakes and soon threatened to spread it’s smothering leaflets across the waves of all lakes.  The newspapers were filed with stories of Lake Minnetonka’s battle against this invader. The Lake Charlotte Improvement Association was quick to take note of the potential danger.  This lake enemy could enter via boats coming from an infested lake to Charlotte or even wrapped around the neck of a swan or goose.  After a great deal of debate and discussion our leaders decided to ignore the wildlife possibility, it’s hard to stop a goose.  They would zero in on the boat owners.  One problem is that another similar and related plant native to Minnesota is present.  This is the Northern Watermilfoil which is considered a beneficial plant.  A plastic covered card was obtained from the Minnesota Division of Natural Resources.  This card has excellent pictures and description of the two species.  These were distributed to the Lake Charlotte Residents by the Association.

 How can a weed be beneficial?  I remember the remark made by one of the DNR’s Game Wardens speaking at one annual meeting.  When asked about clearing a beach for a swimming area his question was: “what do you want, weeds or fish?   The point was that weeds provided the only safe habitat for newly hatched fish and some weeds had to be left for the fish to survive. Now in 2012 we are faced with another invasion threat.    The curly leaf pond weed, can this be stopped before resorting to a chemical treatment?             



The Water Patrol members are volunteers trained and sanctioned by the Wright County Sheriff Dept. The purpose is to enhance the enjoyment of the lake for all boaters and property owners.  They are authorized to stop boaters, to discuss boating regulations and safety concerns. This group is headed up by Steve Kraemer. Other volunteers for the Water Patrol are Carl Chalupsky, Tom and Wendy Haas. For information call Steve at 613-477-4489.