Playing American on the Fake Frontier of the Minnetonka Resort

Authors: Emma Wuepper*,
Topics: Tourism Geography
Keywords: Tourism, frontier, colonial revival, wilderness, Keweenaw Peninsula
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: Download



The Minnetonka Resort is a family-owned roadside motel and cabin court located in the unincorporated township of Copper Harbor in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. In the Fall of 2020, the buildings of the resort were documented using LiDar, photogrammetry and survey techniques as an example of vernacular colonial revival architecture. This paper draws on the evidence gathered from the survey work and the examination of photographs, newspapers and advertisements from archival collections to place the Minnetonka in a broader historical and geographical context of settler-colonialism, and the creation of a post-industrial tourist economy and narratives of an American “wilderness.” It identifies the Minnetonka Resort as an example of an American “frontier” aesthetic that both reflects and distorts the complex dialogue between different aspects of American identities. The survey work and archival records illustrate the creation of this frontier narrative in the many changes the resort has undergone since its initial construction in 1938.

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