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Nordic Pines campground in Baraboo closing indefinitely

January 4, 2019

A staple across from Devil’s Lake State Park for almost a century, Nordic Pines campground has hosted its final season of campers.

Steve Higgins and his wife, Lynn Higgins, of Baraboo have owned the 20-acre property along Highway DL for 15 years.

“We’re just kind of feeling that it’s time and don’t really want to run it kind of halfway,” Steve Higgins said. “We haven’t been doing that. We’ve been giving our guests the best quality that we could afford and was available.”

They closed the campground for the season Oct. 15. About three weeks ago, the couple decided to close the resort indefinitely, though they don’t know what they want to do with it now.

Worn down by age, the cabins were beyond repair, Higgins said. Other financial issues and a decline in the number of campers over the last couple of years contributed to their decision.

Higgins said he’s trying to get rid of the cabins, which he estimated have been there since the early 1900s. Several people have shown interest in the Craigslist listings, he noted.

Derrick Mayoleth, owner of Skillet Creek Media in Baraboo, lamented Nordic Pines’ closing on his blog.

“The downside for the rest of us is that we’re losing a lot of memories, a convenient location and a huge inventory of campsites and cabins near a very busy park,” he wrote.

Wheeler’s Campground on Wisconsin 136 is now the closest private campground to the north shore at Devil’s Lake, Mayoleth noted.

Despite the barriers, Higgins said reopening Nordic Pines in the future is still a possibility if they decide to put money into revamping it. Among other projects, they would have to upgrade the electrical system and connect to the city sewer — “a big chunk of change,” Higgins said.

Another possibility is donating the property to Expeditions Unlimited, a Christian nonprofit that offers a retreat center and wilderness trips focused around faith. Both of the Higginses work at Expeditions, which they founded in 1987, according to its website. He said much of their time is invested in that work.

The couple is waiting to see what options open up and expect to make a decision in the next several months. Higgins said he believes God will point him in the right direction when the time comes.

“We’re just being kind of open to that,” he said.

Lengthy history

Then known as Bonnie View Resort, the Devil’s Lake property dates to at least 1930, based on a photograph from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s web archives showing a cottage at Bonnie View Resort at that time.

In 1953, Russell and Elizabeth Hasenbalg purchased Bonnie View from Russell Hasenbalg’s grandparents, Albert and Clarissa Hasenbalg, who built the cottages, according to Elizabeth Hasenbalg’s obituary.

When Donald and Dolores Strohbeen bought the resort in 1978, it was called Out of This World, Donald Strohbeen said. They renamed the campground Nordic Pines and ran it for about 25 years before selling it to the Higginses.

“It was a mess for a while,” Strohbeen said. “It was a lot of work, but we enjoyed it. We had fun.”

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