I was eleven years old when my dad found this land that eventually became Rose Lake Forest. I can still remember when it was this huge uncut forest, with only a two-track and a bunch of deer trails running through it. It was more than forty years ago when Dad, and his best friend Charlie, started building this magical place. Sometimes I guess I still see it through the eyes of that eleven-year-old boy, even though that was more than forty years ago.
My folks used to do a lot of camping when they were first married, and even after I came along. They said their camping trips were some of the most fun they ever had in their marriage. Even back then, campgrounds were crowded. They were always trying to find places where they had more space-- where the outdoors seemed more like nature, and your neighbor wasn't just ten feet away.
This land that Dad found was owned by the Lazy Boy Chair Company. Lazy Boy had planned to use the timber for arms in their chairs, but when Dad approached the owner and told him his dream for the kind of place he'd like to build, the owner, Edward Knabusch, agreed. So instead of cutting down that huge forest, Dad and Charlie built roads that wound around the hillsides, and went past the largest trees instead of over them. Together, they made something no one had ever done before.
Rose Lake Forest is a place where people can camp with tents, popups, and campers, just about any way they want. They can build a retirement home, or just put in a mobile home and have an inexpensive "cottage" to go "up north" to. Lots of people have built nice homes and live there year-'round. The lots are large, and every one backs up to greenbelt instead of another lot. So there's lots of room, and you never feel like you're crowded in with a lot of other people like you do in campgrounds or housing developments.
At Rose Lake Forest you own your own land. So instead of being in a campground with a bunch of rules, you can pretty much do as you please, subject to a few common sense restrictions.
Dad didn't like the thought of unsightly electric wires running overhead and spoiling the natural beauty of the forest. So he ran all the electric and telephone underground. No overhead wires anywhere.
All the property owners have common access to a 200 foot beach on Rose Lake. The lake spring fed-- clear and deep, and approximately 373 acres in size. It's an all-sports lake, so you can swim, fish, boat, water-ski, and generally have a blast. I fished it all the time as a kid, and I've been told the fishing is still excellent.
Other perks include a large park with a ball diamond and a pavillion where you can schedule reunions, receptions and other get-togethers; two sets of bathrooms, one at the park (with showers), and one at the beach; a trash collection site where you can take all your trash; and a dumping-flushing station where you can safely empty the toilet-holding tank in a camper, and get good safe drinking water.
The maintenance of all this common property, including the trash collection (which is the largest expense) is covered by yearly association dues of $85.00. That's less than 20% of what it would cost you for trash collection alone, anywhere else.
Most of my weekends growing up were spent at Rose Lake Forest. I learned camping skills like how to build a safe campfire, and get it started even if the wood was damp; how to fish, and how to cook them (and hotdogs and burgers) on an open fire. I rode trail bikes and hiked all over the place, and did all the things kids do when they go to camp, but I got to do it all the time. I had a great childhood, and I've returned the favor by spending time with my kids the same way.
My parents are both gone now, and Charlie too. The beach park is named after Charlie, it's the Charles V. Rambeau Memorial Park. My family still has some lots in trust. Some of them we're going to keep, but a few others we're willing to sell.
If you'd like to know more about Rose Lake Forest, you can visit the website for the Rose Lake Forest Property Owners Association at www.rlfpoa.org.