The Bystrom Family History
To Chuck Bystrom, the owner of Vermilion Houseboats, Lake Vermilion is more than a place to operate his resort, shared with his wife LeeAnn and children. Rather, Lake Vermilion serves as a quintessential part of his identity, encompassing the best of his memories, stories, and achievements, and connecting him to his ancestors and, perhaps, his legacy. Chuck grew up on Lake Vermilion and treasures his memories of family outings to The Bystrom Fish Camp near the Trout Lake Portage. A short distance to the west, Bystrom Family members also owned a hunting post. Today, this location is officially titled Bystrom Bay.
A Lake Vermilion Staple since the Mid 1800's
The Bystrom’s have a rich heritage, centered in the north woods in the land of the red sunsets of Lake Vermilion. In fact, two of the first recorded settlers to this area were Andrew and Gus Bystrom, who settled in the Tower area of Lake Vermilion in the mid 1800's. Additionally, according to several sources, the first white woman to settle in Tower was Mrs. Carrie Bystrom, who in the mid 1800's walked through the brutal winter wilderness from Duluth to Tower to be with her husband Erik, who awaited her in their new settlement. The stories merely commence there…. In fact, rumor has it, Erik's brother, Jonas, Chuck's great grandfather, lost both his hands in a fishing accident. Legend has it that it somehow involved dynamite!
The First to Own a Houseboat on Lake Vermilion
Although there are certainly a number of historical parables surrounding the Bystrom Family, it is undisputed that from the first fur trappers, gold prospectors, and pioneers, the members of The Bystrom Family have always held an influential role in the Lake Vermilion area. Albert Bystrom (Erik and Carrie’s son) was the proprietor of Bystrom Boat Works, building and repairing boats from the roaring 1920’s to the 1950's. Around the same time, Fred Bystrom, Chuck's grandfather, owned and operated the local lumber yard and mortuary. Additionally, Walter Bystrom, Chuck’s father’s cousin, was the first to own a houseboat on Lake Vermilion. No matter the industry, the Bystroms’ were known as business leaders valuing hard work and equality and, of course, for their good-natured knack for fun!
When Chuck's father Merle returned home from the war in the 1940’s, he became a game warden and eventually accepted the post of the Cook and Lake Vermilion area. Merle took pride in his service and seized every opportunity he could to teach Chuck about the area, fostering Chuck’s passion and respect for the outdoors. Merle passed away in 1962, drowning while responding to a call for DNR assistance on his day off. Merle’s passion for the Lake Vermilion area lives on in Chuck and all of Merle’s grandchildren.
In 1982, Chuck and his wife LeeAnn purchased a resort on the Cook end of Lake Vermilion; two years later marked the beginning of their houseboating days! They started with three houseboats at their resort; but in 1986, they made the move to the Tower end of the lake with the purchase of Vermilion Houseboats. It had been existence since the late 1960's under previous ownership. Chuck and LeeAnn, along with their three daughters, have successfully operated Vermilion Houseboats for over 25 years!
The Bystrom Family members are proud of their heritage and remain dedicated to continuing the legacy foraged by the generations that preceded them by being your host in a vacation sure to bring out the inner prospector in you and yours!