Historical information provided by Jonathan Reed
Pioneer Beach on the east shoreline of East Okoboji was, in fact, settled by area pioneers.
James and Susan (Yarnes) Pollard came to northwest Iowa in 1865, establishing a farm on East Okoboji. They had three sons, Albert, Charles, and George; Susan’s brother was Consider A. Yarnes who owned land around Spirit Lake to the north, and a sister was Mrs. Gilbert Terwilliger of Orleans—so family members came and were prominent names in the area through the 1930s.
James Pollard was a typical farmer of the times, raising cattle, hogs, chickens, hay, and grains. About 1880, the county supervisors agreed to put a road in to connect Pollard’s and neighbor Johnson’s farms with other rural roads. Mr. Pollard battled for years with the county about the damage this road did in his ability to move cattle back and forth—at one point he even asked for a bridge over the road for this. It was never acted upon, but presumably some compensation was eventually worked out.
After his death in 1914, his sons set about developing the land and in 1920 Pioneer Beach was platted for development with over 100 lots. It took a few years to take off, making Pioneer Beach one of the last places to be developed.
The namesake of the area was the Pioneer Beach Resort, one of the last resorts on East Okoboji. It is no longer in operation, but many generations still remember the resort.
In 1954, Anne and Wilbur Steen started Pioneer Beach Resort and boat livery with five cabins and no city water or sewer. Over the decades, a series of avid fishermen owned the resort. Rick and Lisa Vander Woude explored seasonal rentals only for their eight units and opened a popular—if eclectically decorated—outdoor bar, Woude’s Bay Bar, open seasonally.
(A couple of photos from the 1990s with fishermen proudly showing their catch at Pioneer Beach)
(James Pollard’s land in a 1882 map of the area. Roads were few and far between with city streets being “hopeful” rather than something one could drive on.)
(Bottom pic: From May 1920 when Pioneer Beach was platted for development.)
No Records Found
Sorry, no records were found. Please adjust your search criteria and try again.
Google Map Not Loaded
Sorry, unable to load Google Maps API.