The Story of the Clearwater Lodge Totem Pole
The totem pole at Clearwater Historic Lodge is a magnet for that one last family photo before heading home; almost on a daily basis people are posing next to the pole for a photo opportunity.
Seventy years ago Bill Needham, already famous for his diamond willow furniture and intricate hand drawn maps of the area, presented a hand carved and painted totem pole to the Schliep family, who owned Clearwater Lodge at the time. It stood bright and proud over the parking lot for six decades, welcoming thousands of guests and posing with thousands more in photographs. Inevitably it decayed in those decades and became quite brittle, at one point the wings on the bird fell off, and at that point we knew we needed to find a way to either replace it or remove it before it toppled on a by-stander. After multiple searches turned up expensive results we pushed the problem to the bottom of the long term fix it list and that is where it remained, until 2013.
In realizing the plight of the pole and already having an interest in wood carving, a neighbor on the lake Bob Olson took it upon himself to try his first totem pole and set about carving an exact replica of Bills this past winter. We could not believe his incredible generosity when it turned out he wanted to donate it to Clearwater Lodge. Within a few days we had removed the old pole and replaced it with the new one, and raising the new pole was truly a group effort.
The new totem pole now stands as a symbol of generosity and as a connection to the past. It adds another bend in the river of history at Clearwater Lodge and reminds us of the special people who have helped make it that way.
Once again the totem pole stands bright and proud just the way it did sixty-five years ago.