OTC beaches remain busy on warm summer days

The Pebble Lake public beach, two miles south of Fergus Falls, was packed with people during 85-degree weather on Saturday afternoon, June 18. Temperatures were even higher the following day and more people flocked to the beach.

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

Kids splashing in the water and the aroma from hot dogs roasting on nearby grills during the summer months has been part of enjoyment at beaches in all parts of Otter Tail County for many decades.

The public beach, two miles south of Fergus Falls, is welcome to visitors from the Pelican Rapids area and from other parts of Otter Tail County.

This public beach area, on the south side of Pebble Lake. offers not only swimming but also places to launch canoes and kayaks, a playground area for kids, and picnic tables.

Nearby is the public golf course. A public campground and boat access are located on the north side of the lake.

Pebble Lake’s waterfront buzzed with activity during the 1950s and 1960s.

Back then Pebble Lake beach was three times what it is today, and three times further into the lake itself. In 1962 there were two diving towers and one floating raft. Water slides were later positioned.

Today there is a modest dock configuration with lifeguards on duty.

The wave of baby boomers desiring swimming instruction at Pebble Lake, under the direction of summer recreation director Oats LeGrand, topped 2,000 kids in 1962. They represented children born in the years following World War II, starting in 1946.

For retiree Loren Woolson, it seems like just yesterday when he served as a lifeguard and swimming instructor for LeGrand. Woolson, a retired Fergus Falls High School teacher, worked at the Pebble Lake beach from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s.

“Back then it oftentimes was a 12-hour day, from 9 in the morning for swimming classes until the beach closed at 9 p.m.,” Woolson said.

Middle school and YMCA pools weren’t available in Fergus Falls until the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Joe Edlund, a retiree who lives in Ely in northeastern Minnesota, has pleasant memories of his lifeguard and swimming instructor days in the 1960s.

“Those were some grand days, and I’m happy to know that people still enjoy swimming at Pebble Lake and other public beaches all across Otter Tail County,” Edlund said.