Mar 26, 2024 | By: Zy'Riah Simmons

Retired Owner of Conway’s Sandy Beach Resort Near Bemidji Reflects on Upcoming Anniversary

Conway’s Sandy Beach Resort, located on Big Lake near Bemidji, was an all-in-one home and vacation resort for the Conway family and for others, and this summer will mark what would have been the resort’s 100th year.

The history behind the resort dates back to 1924, just five years before the start of the Great Depression, where a family was looking for a place to call home.

“100 years ago this summer, my grandfather, grandmother and [their] six children made the trip from St. Paul all the way up to this area to look for some land for my grandfather to buy,” explained Chuck Conway, a now-retired owner of Conway’s Sandy Beach Resort. “He always wanted to have a place where his family could gather.”

Bill Conway, Chuck’s grandfather, had visited various places before deciding that Big Lake was going to be home for his family for the next four generations.

“And grandfather looking for places for land to buy,” added Chuck. “And he found the land on Big Lake and looked at it and decided this was what he wanted. It was nice, nice land, low land close to the lake and sandy bottom in the lake and crystal clear water. So he had his heart set, that’s what he wanted.”

There were plenty of memories from the resort. Chuck’s younger sister, Margo Carlson, has one in particular that was her favorite.

“We had an ice house. They’d cut ice in the winter and put it in an ice house,” said Carlson. “And him and I would take the wheelbarrow and get a bunch of ice in it. And we’d go from cabin to cabin and ask people if they needed a hunk of ice for their icebox.”

The resort was passed down from generation to generation, and eventually Chuck became the owner of Conway’s Sandy Beach Resort. But after running the resort for 18 years, Chuck decided to sell and focus on retirement.

“Planned unit development – we could sell off different units, we could sell off as many as ten units,” said Chuck. “That sounded like a great deal. And my dad was completely in agreement with it, so we set that up and did it, and 2002 was our last year to run the resort.”

The land and property is now called Conway’s Sandy Beach Association. But in the end, the resort had been what Bill Conway meant it to be in the first place.

“It ended up being just what my grandfather had always wanted. It was a place for the family and extended family to gather,” said Chuck.

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