Our History

Lutsen Resort is Minnesota’s oldest resort. Established in 1885, the rugged natural beauty of Lake Superior’s North Shore prompted Charles Axel Nelson, a young Swedish immigrant, to establish his homestead overlooking the lake. He called it “Lutsen.”



Soon married, he and his family supported themselves through fishing, logging and trapping. The original cabin, built on the site of the current Lutsen Resort lodge, grew into an ever-larger family home. In the early days, long before a road was built, travelers found Lutsen a stop of convenience as they made their way up the lake. The Nelson children vacated their beds for travelers.


As its reputation for welcoming guests grew, Lutsen began to attract visitors who came to stay – to hike, fish and hunt. Known as a friendly haven for weary travelers, the family home evolved into one of Minnesota’s favorite destinations.


  • 1863 CAA Nelson born in Norkoping, Ostergotland, Sweden
  • 1881 CAA came to America
  • 1885 Papers filed for homestead
  • 1886 First guests stayed at the Nelson home
  • 1893 CAA built house that had hotel rooms on the second floor
  • 1896 School built at top of hill behind the resort
  • 1887-1910 Steamships ran supplies up the shore and to Lutsen Resort
  • 1918 Road is open to Duluth
  • 1918 Electricity introduced to the resort via water powered electrical plant on river
  • 1920s Lobby, dining room and 30 rooms added to the main lodge
  • 1928 Cliff House built
  • 1948 First fire destroyed original main lodge
  • 1948 Ski hill opened
  • 1949 Lundie-designed main lodge opened
  • 1951 Second fire destroyed main lodge
  • 1952 Second Lundie-designed main lodge opened
  • 1955 Dupont’s Mylar Bubble is built over the pool; first of its kind in the world
  • 1964 First chair lift installed on Ullr Mountain
  • 1967 Conference room added to main lodge
  • 1968 Sea Villa Townhome development started
  • 1977 Alpine slide opened
  • 1980 Ski area separated
  • 1988 Lutsen Resort sold to current owners
  • 1993-2000 Lakeside Log Cabins developed
  • 1997 Sea Villa Guest Services building opened
  • 2003 Poplar River Condos opened
  • 2005 Cliff House Townhomes developed

To see a full, more details timeline: click to download the History of Lutsen Resort PDF.

Current Ownership | Nancy Burns and Scott Harrison

Current Owners Nancy Burns and Scott Harrison

We both grew up in northern Minnesota and came to Lutsen to ski as children in the early “towrope” days. Each of us has fond memories of experiencing the resort, the ski hill and Cook County with our families.

Our purchase of the resort in 1988 was largely motivated by the opportunity to live and work in the area, to have the North Shore experience part of our daily lives.

We have reinvested significant capital to maintain and enhance the resort and its amenities. Guests may stay in the classic rooms of the historic Scandinavian Lodge or stay in the more upscale lodging that we have developed over the years which offer kitchens, multiple bedrooms, whirlpools, fireplaces and decks. We have created a strong guest activities program which offers guests a variety of ways to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area and the recreational opportunities that surround us.

We love the environment we are part of, especially the resort and the traditions and history it embodies. We feel a responsibility to maintain and enhance this history and tradition. We try to be strong stewards of the environment. Our primary goal is to provide our guests with vivid and warm memories of their time with us.

Cook County is a special place and part of our responsibility as business owners is to invest our time and resources as active members of the wider community, both as volunteers within a variety of organizations and through encouraging and supporting Lutsen Resort staff to become active participants.