What is Northland Outdoors?
I recently was asked that question — more specifically, for our purposes, what and where is the Northland?
I had a quick answer: For us, it’s anything that happens in the outdoors here in the North Country.
But it’s more than that, too. It’s a state of mind, a vibe — that “Up North” kind of feel you get with the people, places and things here. That’s what it’s about — and what Northland Outdoors is about.
Destinations — places — are a big part of that: resorts, state parks, lakes, even the family cabin.
Actually, nothing says “Up North” like “The Cabin” — it has come to signify a certain way of life here.
Yes, some will say that a cabin is an indoor place and, in the case of year-round dwellings, not really all that different from a house, except that it’s on a lake or in the woods or maybe both.
They couldn’t be more wrong. There’s living at a lake place and then there’s “The Cabin.”
The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department is offering an opportunity to experience the latter.
Custer State Park in Custer, S.D., currently is auctioning off 12 small cabins at an online auction website to make room for new, updated cabins. The auction runs until 11 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time on Tuesday, Sept. 29. The cabins are at www.publicsurplus.com/sms/browse/cataucs?catid=1001 and are listed as “Custer Cabins” or “Sylvan Lake Cabins.”
“They were built in the ‘30s or ‘40s and have been used for guest cabins since then,” said Jayme Severyn of Custer State Park. “They don’t meet the expectations of our visitors these days. If families are coming, they’re not big enough for that. The camping expectations have changed. So we’re building larger cabins to accommodate that.
“There’s not a lot of rot or deterioration (with the cabins). But they’re in need of upgrades.”
As of Thursday morning, there were a total of five bids on 11 of the cabins, all for the minimum of $10, and four bids for the remaining cabin — one of the Sylvan Lake units, with the high bid at $27. So with only five days left in bidding, there’s a chance you could own a piece of the Northland for next to nothing.
But after the bidding comes, potentially, the real work. According to the SDGFP, successful bidders will be responsible for the removal of the cabins and any deck/stairs that come with them. They must be moved between noon Sept. 29 and 5 p.m. Oct. 11.
Severyn wants potential bidders to know that removing them could be a challenge because of location and hilly terrain.
“I encourage anyone buying them to have the logistics figured out beforehand,” Severyn said. “There will be some challenges.”
But if potential bidders can figure out that end, it could be worthwhile. Yes, they’re small cabins, possibly a good fit for one person or even a couple — as a cozy lake getaway or even a hunting “shack.”
The Custer cabins are 18-by-16-foot one-room units with two queen beds that sleep a maximum of four people, according to the ads on the auction website. But they do include a bathroom with a stand-up shower, and a small deck on each is a nice touch.
The Sylvan cabins also are one-room units with two queen beds and also sleep a maximum of four, according to the website. But they’re a bit larger at 24.5-by-16.5 feet and include a kitchen and full bathroom. Both the Custer and Sylvan cabins were non-smoking units at the park.
How much might they fetch?
Said Severyn: “We’re just hoping someone takes them — and uses them.”