The 10 most outstanding features of Eagle Island
... use this as check list, compare with other properties
Privacy without isolation
The biggest concern about buying lake property is the neighbors, now and future. Nothing can destroy enjoyment like adjacent noise, activity, strained relationships, poor maintenance or messy yards.
What was meant to be a time and place of peace and relaxation can quickly turn into frustration and emotional stress. That's the big risk with most properties, ever changing, out of owner's control.
But Eagle Island is different, surrounded by a large buffer of water, and no roads or buildings within clear sight or sound; never irritated by behavior of neighbors, yet not isolated out in the woods either.
Many lake properties have a nice view of the water, but often the other views are side of a neighbor's house or garage, or a road, or just ordinary grass and trees.
But Eagle Island is different, with a view of the lake from every window and door in the house.
You see beautiful sunrises over from the master bedroom window and beautiful sunsets from all beach-side windows and doors.
From the large living room picture window, you see stars and the moon dancing on the rippling water at night
The carpet of green lawn merges into the flowering lily pads in the summer.
The entire lake is ringed with spectacular color in the fall, reflecting off the lake like a mirror on still days.
The house is constructed, outside and inside, of premium grade western red cedar timbers. The patios, walkways, stairs, retaining walls and planters are all made of stone. These materials are new and strong, impervious to insects and will not rot.
The concrete floor slab and deep-wall foundations have been in place for 33 years and even survived a tornado. In 2011, the concrete was inspected by a Wisconsin licensed engineer and certified to be in excellent condition. There will no shifting or settling, even though the house is new.
The roof is top grade cedar shakes, new and sealed, with 40-year life.
Windows are new, high quality, efficient double-pane casement style. Patio doors are heavy double-pane insulated sliders.
Many lake properties, especially those in the best locations, are now old and in constant need of expensive replacements and repairs. But Eagle Island is different – almost everything is new, high quality and low maintenance.
Soaring ceilings and huge window walls in some lake homes are attractive but, besides some loss of social intimacy, they can cause big frustrations for window cleaning, spider webs, control of sunlight, fast heating/cooling, and uniform room temperature. Soaring ceilings and huge window walls can cause discomfort from radiant cold and drafts in wintertime.
The house on Eagle Island strikes a good height-size balance for intimacy, comfort and maintenance.
Two hours from Twin Cities
There are hundreds of high-quality lake cabins in beautiful wooded settings on nice sand-bottom lakes in Northern Minnesota or Northern Wisconsin. Trouble is, most of they are three or more hours away from the Twin Cities.
But not Eagle Island, which is only a two-hour drive from either downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul, and about an hour drive from Duluth. It is far enough to get the North Woods feel, yet close enough for day guests.
Enjoyment of a lake property is greatly diminished, and use is reduced, is it requires a long drive to get there.
Prime recreational lake
Johnson Lake is average size, about 400 acres, with 25-foot maximum depth. Greater depths would mean colder water for swimming and water sports.
Johnson Lake is not a weedy lake, and no invasive species. The water is clear, with sand bottom.
The lake is not boring round, but interesting shape, with five islands. At night, you look out at twinkling lights across the lake, not into a black hole. In the fall, you see brilliant color all around the lake, reflecting off the still water at morning sunrises and evening sunsets.
The lake is large enough to produce a steady breeze, but small enough to inhibit powerful winds and waves.
Fishing is okay, just good enough to have fun, but not good enough to attract a lot of outside fishermen and boats to the boat landing. There are almost always one or more fishing boats on the lake. Actually, one of the best bass fishing spots is right off the Eagle Island dock. Children can fish by themselves, without a boat.
And it's fun to watch eagles fish the lake. They frequently sit on branches in the tree by the dock, watching for fish, then swoop down for the catch.
Every year, there is at least one loon family, sometimes two, to add magical sound to the lake.
White water lilies adorn the northeast marsh in mid-summer.
Many lake properties have a only a small patch of beach, rocky beach, muddy beach, weedy beach, or drop-off beach. At some properties, the water is cloudy, green or rusty.
But Eagle Island is different. It has a 50' x 75' sand beach running from the water all the way to the lower front door, off the sauna room. The beach is beautiful sifted sand, without any vegetation, edged by stone planters.
The beach slopes into the water at a steady pitch and doesn't get over one's head until about 30 yards.
This type and size of beach can no longer be created anywhere in Wisconsin or Minnesota, but it is grandfathered on Eagle Island because it was developed 33 years ago before today's strict environmental codes.
Many lake properties have nice houses, but often the houses are not ideally situated. Some are East facing, buried in tall trees, so the property gets dark early in the evening and so the prevailing west breezes bring mosquitoes from the woods. Some are North facing so they get little direct sunlight during the day.
But Eagle Island is different. The upper level and entertainment patio are elevated, with prevailing breezes coming directly off the lake, and facing West, not in shadows, for impression of longer days and for viewing beautiful sunsets.
Of course, since it's on an island, the house faces East, too, for beautiful sunrises than can be seen through windows of the master bedroom.
And the house faces South, too, for the nice afternoon sun on the patio.
Solid cedar construction
Most lake cabins are quite ordinary, like city homes, built with 2x4s, sheet rock, sheathing and siding. Sometimes siding is milled, artificial, to look like real timber or logs from a distance.
But Eagle Island is different. The house is built with solid cedar timbers, inside and outside, double-wall construction.
It is not nailed together. It is fitted together, everything interlocking, without nails or adhesives.
Each of the thousands of pieces of timber was individually milled, cut, notched, sanded and numbered at a custom mill in Renton, Washington, and then trucked to Johnson Lake for piece-by-piece assembly.
It is a high quality type of construction, like expensive homes built in forested areas of Northern Europe and Scandinavia, labor intensive, and requiring special woodworking skills.
Most people have never seen a house like this. This unique wood style makes the house very homey and comfortable – people never get tired of it – and generates lots of attention and conversation.
Many lake cabins have a musty smell that won't go away because the structure is old and because fresh air doesn't circulate when the cabin is closed, often causing mold in the walls, and sometimes causing health problems. This is especially a problem in spring and fall when it it too chilly to leave the windows open.
Nearly all the positive features of a lake property can be nullified by bad inside air – stale, smell, drafts, too hot, too cold, inconsistent, different temperature at head than at feet, etc.
But Eagle Island is different. The house has an air circulation system that constantly brings in fresh air through a heat-exchanger, to every room in the house, even when the house is closed and occupants are gone. (Not needed and turned off in winter.)
Also the entire house is cedar, so every room always gives off a slight woodsy scent to freshen the air.
When all windows are open, and all patio doors are open, and the double front doors are open, the entire upstairs is like a huge, deluxe screened porch, with lake breezes flowing through, and/or, if needed, breezes from the ceiling fans.
Even in extremely hot weather, the lower level stays a comfortable temperature. Upstairs, the air conditioning can be turned on.
In winter, the house is very cozy because it's built with 3.5 inch timbers on the outside, and 3.5 inch timbers on the inside, notched together at the ends, with four inches of rigid insulation in between, and tightly caulked. The roof has 6 inches of rigid insulation, plus heavy wood shakes. All doors and windows are new thermo-pane.
Heating is consistent and efficient. There are electric heating coils buried in the sand six inches below the concrete slab, serviced by a separate off-peak metering system. At about 10 p.m., Polk-Burnet Electric sends a radio signal to open the switch, and electricity flows to the heating coils until the sand is heated to whatever temperature the owner sets on a thermostat, usually about 80 degrees. Another radio signal turns off the low-cost power at about 6 a.m.
Heat from the hot sand rises steadily into the house all day long, until the evening when the process starts all over again.
Also, as a separate and complimentary system, every room has a thermostat and one or more 250-volt electric baseboard heaters which turn on if more heat is needed in that room.
Pure well water
Many cabins have poor quality of water for drinking, washing and toilets. Sometimes well water is cloudy, or tastes like rotten eggs. Sometimes well water is reddish from iron deposits and stains sinks and toilets.
But not at Eagle Island, where the tap water comes from a deep well drawing from a reservoir more than 50 feet beneath Johnson Lake. The water is inexhaustible, pure, clear, cold and tastes like bottled water sold in stores.