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Campground expansion planned at Old Barn Resort


Fri, Mar 15th, 2013
Posted in Preston Features

Shirley Endres stands before a map of the Old Barn Resort. The campground expansion would be located in the upper right hand corner of the map. Photo by Karen Reisner

The conversion of this 206 acre farm with a multi-story old barn began a quarter century ago. The Old Barn Resort is promoted as “200 Acres of Fun.” The resort now features a 172 site campground, 38-bed bunkhouse/hostel, an 18 hole Rivers’ Bend Golf Course, a swimming pool, and the Old Barn Restaurant and Bar. Being located in the center of Carrolton Township (Section 21) adjacent to the State Trail and the Root River, there is access for bicycling, canoeing, tubing, and trout fishing. The idyllic bluff country countryside adds more flavor to a visitor’s experience.

Once more, the owners Shirley Endres and Doug Brenna who purchased the property in 1996 have plans to make improvements to the resort. They plan to expand the campground by another 108 campsites for a total of 280.

Shirley commented, “You don’t have to stay here to play here.” The resort provides entertainment for both locals and new people all the time. She loves living in a small community where people know everybody and the life style is slower paced. Shirley grew up on a farm and still enjoys the small community life. The natural beauty of the area just adds to the allure.

The additional 108 campsites are to be permanent seasonal sites. Thirty-seven of the current sites are permanent seasonal. Shirley noted there is a waiting list of 200 for permanent sites. For those who want to throw a tent, often younger families, there are 40 tent sites.

The downturn in the economy over the last several years actually proved to be an upturn for the resort. She says the majority of visitors come from two hours away or less, but they have many from the greater Midwest area and a regular from Hawaii that comes for a family reunion in the area. A recent reservation was made by a person from the Netherlands. The resort is open for about eight months starting April 1.

Shirley says the expansion of the campground will bring in 108 more families for the season which will benefit businesses in surrounding communities. The resort is busy on weekends all the time. It is less so during the week, maybe down to 40 to 60 percent of that on the weekends. With the variety of amenities available, there is a lot of stuff going on. People that come to the restaurant may see that there is a golf course and be back for golf or come to play golf and see there is camping and be back for that.

The resort has nine full time employees and also about that many part time employees. All employees are local residents.

For more information on the Old Barn Resort visit www.barnresort.com/

History

The Old Barn has a colorful and deep history. Edward Allis, founder of Allis Chalmers Machinery Company, purchased the land along the Root River between Lanesboro and Preston for his son. The three story barn was built in 1884-1885 at first to house a herd of Holstein dairy cattle. Later with an interest turning to race horses the barn was converted in part to add living quarters for stable hands.

The 206 acre farm changed hands in 1988 about the same time the Root River State Trail opened. The intent of the new owner was to restore the barn and to develop a campground. By 1990, with remodeling and new construction, the property became the Old Barn Resort featuring restaurant and bar, tent and RV campground, 38 bed hostel, three season indoor pool, and so on.

Since the current owners purchased the property in late 1996, an 18 hole golf course was developed on 126 acres, the restaurant and bar have been remodeled, and improvements have been made to the pool and patio.

Heron Road Bridge

The Carrolton Township bridge on Heron Road has been closed since December 2010. Shirley made it clear that the shutdown of that bridge is a problem for them and has an impact on their business and for neighbors getting to their workplace. Foot and bicycle traffic only is allowed over the old bridge. She said they are working toward a goal that works for everybody. Locals coming from Lanesboro or campers going to Lanesboro have to go an extra ten miles or so, as do outfitters. Shirley felt it is disheartening that this bridge isn’t something the township wants to do. She added they have been working with the township to get the road improved as well. “People don’t realize how much these backroads are used.”

Campground Expansion

The 108 new campsites are proposed to be developed north or down slope of the existing campground and up slope of the golf course driving range on what is now 11 acres of gently sloping grassland. The intention is to complete the development over the summer of this year. Utility connections for water, sewage, and electricity will be trenched in to provide each of the new campsites with these utility services. The existing driving range will be removed.

The purpose of the expansion is to meet the demand for campsites with utility hook-up services including water, sewer, and electrical. The additional campsites will not require construction of additional auxiliary buildings.

EAW

An Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) concerning this expansion is posted on the Fillmore County website for review. www.co.fillmore.mn.us/ Click on departments, zoning, and EAWs. The 30 day comment period begins on March 18 and will run to April 16. Any comments should be submitted to Zoning Administrator Chris Graves, Fillmore County.

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