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February 16, 2011

“Make Money on Muskrats”

Filed under: Item of the Day — Adam Harris @ 9:56 am

Make Money on Muskrats

“Become a fur farmer without giving a minute of your time to the business,” states this broadside from National Forest Fur Farms Inc. of Deer River, Minnesota. Promoting stock in muskrat farming, this advertisement is likely from the 1920’s when “get rich quick” investments like this one were commonplace. F.W. Williams, the President and Managing Director of the company, owned a ranch near Cut Foot Sioux Lake that also dealt in elk, buffalo, deer, bear, fox, lynx, beaver, fisher, mink, skunk, marmot, monkeys, squirrels and mountain lions. A part of the lake known as “Williams Narrows” was named after him, along with the “Williams Narrows Lodge,” the road that leads to the lodge, and the self-proclaimed “Williams Strain” of extra large dark northern muskrats.

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5 Responses to ““Make Money on Muskrats””

  1. Joseph Williams Karau Says:

    Adam,

    Where did you come across this poster? Falvey and Pauline Williams were my great grandparents who used to run the fur farm and then started Williams Narrows Resort in 1920. Their daughter Betty married Louis Karau and they ran the resort starting in about 1945 after Falvey and Pauline retired. Betty and Louie’s only son Jerry and his wife Joyce Karau (my parents) ran the resort from 1975 when Betty and Louie retired to 2005 when they retired. Since 2005, Joe (me) and Kelli Karau have operated Williams Narrows. I was cleaning out some old files today and found documents from the MNHS dated in 1977. I found your web site and started searching for info about the resort and found the poster about the fur farm. With the exception of the mink and muskrats most of the animals that Falvey had at the resort were for the amusement of guests traveling up to conduct fur business. There is still an indentation in the yard were alligators were kept. The resort itself was not intended to be a paid lodging service; it was set up to house traveling fur buyers and sellers. The trip from Deer River (nearest railroad) was a long journey back then so people would stay overnight at what is now the resort. One of our cabins still in use actually served as Falvey’s office in the mink farm and was moved from the mink farm to the resort (1/2 mile). I believe that Williams Narrows Resort is the oldest resort in Minnesota that has remained within one family (91 years, 4 generations of the Williams-Karau family). Our 2 sons, age 5 and 6 (possibly the 5th generation) live at the resort now as well as my parents Joyce and Jerry (3rd generation). Sorry to ramble on, I just was just curious how you came across the old poster.

    Thanks and have a great day!

    Lori Williamson reply on May 6th, 2011:

    Thank you for the story and information, Mr. Karau! Very interesting.
    We found the poster in the paper files here in the MHS Collection.
    Thanks again!
    Lori Williamson
    MHS Collections-Reference Department

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