Skyport Lodge is located on the original site of an Indian encampment used each summer for trapping and fishing. Over many years different owners occupied the site until 1945 when Clarence J. Krotz purchased the property. Krotz, age 25, was discharged from the Army Air Force where he served as a B-26 bomber pilot in the Mediterranean Theater in WWII. He successfully completed 73 missions. During this challenging time, Krotz dreamed of owning a north woods lodge, airstrip and seaplane base. With his arrival in Cook County, and additional financing also obtained, he began to develop his dream. The basic lodge, dirt airstrip and seaplane base were completed by the end of 1947. In 1947 he married Dorothy Ringdahl and this marriage produced three daughters, Ginger, Kathy and Clarice.
In 1950 Krotz purchased a used 1941 Piper J-3 Cub airplane complete with a new set of floats. The Cub quickly became a mainstay for the family for income from pilot training, shuttling guests and materials into the lakes of the Arrowhead region, and for simply showing individuals the boreal forest from the air. The family also took flying excursions whenever possible. Each of the Krotz girls learned to fly with their Dad as instructor.
Skyport airfield was designated the official Cook County airport in 1948. With the addition of six guest rooms added to the lodge, business began in earnest with fly-ins of aviation clubs, including a club from Thunder Bay, air shows, corporate aircraft and military aircraft visits, special dinners for guests and area visitors, high school graduation parties and groups of kids from Grand Portage. While this was indeed busy work, Krotz pursued his passion for taxidermy and his mounts were displayed throughout the lodge.
In the 1960s, Clarence and Dorthy sold the airstrip to the state of Minnesota and assumed all airport management and public services without pay. In 1980, and due to Clarence’s failing health, they sold the lodge. Clarence died in 1981. Dorothy died in 2011. Skyport (Grand Marais) airport was moved to its present site in 1996. The current Skyport Lodge was purchased by Rachelle and Cory Christianson in 2016.
Kathy Krotz-Finn was the only daughter to obtain her pilot’s license. She owns and continues to fly the 1941 vintage Piper J-3 Cub, the only Cub registered to fly in Cook County, an icon of the aviation heritage we continue to enjoy.