May 29, 2024

Three Mile Lake Lodge to return, may be bigger

Boarded windows and coverings of the roof damage are visible at the Three Mile Lake Lodge after the April 26 tornadoes. County officials are interested in expanding the lodge size during repairs.

Union County officials are planning on repairing the damage done to the Three Mile Lake Lodge after the two tornadoes the evening of Friday, April 26. The lodge may come back with a new, bigger look.

Union County Conservation Director Doug Jones told the board of supervisors Monday the county’s insurance adjuster said the lodge sustained significant damage, but is not considered a loss and can be repaired. At the same time the conservation’s office, just a short walk from the lodge, was destroyed along with a pickup. The office opened in 2011.

Jones said the lodge roof and shingles on the building’s west side were damaged.

“Three broke trusses, windows and one door,” he said listing the damage portions of the building.

Jones said he and the conservation board said this may be a good time to consider expanding the lodge.

“Would, could and should have made it bigger,” Jones said about second-guessing the lodge size when it was initially built in 2001.

“It’s hosted a ton of events,” Jones said. “We want it to be bigger. We need our office back and we need our lodge up and running.”

No decisions were made Monday about the lodge’s future. Jones said the suggestions are to add on to the west side of the building, where the outdoor deck is, to still take advantage of the view of the lake from the building. Another idea is to build on the east side, more toward the flagpole. Informally speaking with those in construction, Jones said estimates for a 30 feet by 50 feet expansion are at $330,000.

“Where do you think I can find $330,000 real quick,” he asked. “I’ll do my due diligence and talk to anybody.”

Jones has contacted Southern Iowa Council of Governments in Creston to find grants that would cover such work. Jones said conservation has about $300,000 total in accounts that could be used. But conservation has also begun preliminary work for the two housekeeping cabins planned to be built near the campground at Three Mile Lake. Jones said there was no damage at the campground from the April 26 tornadoes.

Union County Conservation office at Three Mile Lake was destroyed during the April 26 tornadoes. Staff continues to assess damage and property inside.

The cabins are funded by $720,000 of the county’s American Rescue funds provided by the federal government during the COVID pandemic to make up for lost revenue. Union County received about $2.37 million. Jones said bids were received for infrastructure work like road access and utility access. Jones said those bids are near what conservation was expecting.

“We need both,” he said about the two cabins. “We are in too deep.”

The day after the storm knowing the extensive damage to the lodge, Jones said he called 26 people or entities that had reserved the lodge for an event through November. He said a majority of those were wedding receptions. One reception was planned that week. The county has refunded the rental deposits, but the insurance policy will reimburse the county.

“It’s not putting a man on the moon. It’s just construction that takes some money,” he said a repaired lodge. “We are not doing anything crazy.”

In a related matter, Secondary Roads Superintendent Al Hysell said his crews are finding placed with backed up water from April 26 and rains since. One is along 150th west of Osage. He will contact Farm Service Agency to find out what can be done to improve water flow and prevent water from flowing on adjacent properties. A culvert failed on Eagle, north of 150th.

John Van Nostrand


An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.