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Sugar Shack Renovation
November 2020

This past fall renovations were completed at the Cozy Grove Sugar Shack located at the Smith Wildlife Area.  The original rustic shack was constructed by Slim Smith and his friends in 1949 and first used for the maple syrup operation in the spring of 1950. For the past 70 years it has served as the headquarters for the maple syrup operation. Over the years, time and weather had taken its toll on the structure and major improvements were required to continue using the facility for the annual maple syrup operation. 

The renovation included tearing down the existing building and starting over. Before demolition began, the original siding (side walls), which contained the historic handprints and dates, were first carefully labeled and removed by KCCB staff member Ryan Schmidt.

The new building constructed by Hjelmeland Builders, Inc. includes a concrete foundation, concrete floor and concrete stub walls. The foundation and stub walls were features that had not been present on the old structure, but were included in the renovation to add longevity and stability to the new shack. The wooden portion of the shack was constructed to replicate the original. Features on the newly constructed shack included 2”x 6” framed walls and roof trusses, red cedar siding with two-inch battens on the exterior walls, corrugated steel on the roof and a new triple lined chimney. All the windows and the entrance door on the new shack were constructed in the same location and have the same dimensions as the original shack. The original siding pieces, which include the historic handprints and dates will be placed back on the interior walls of the building at a later date.

Following completion of the project, the Hjelmeland Family informed the Conservation Board that the entire cost of the project would be donated. Kossuth County board members and staff were surprised and thrilled to receive this generous donation. The Conservation Board extends a heartfelt thank you to the Hjelmeland family.




Original Cozy Grove Sugar Shack build in 1949 by Slim Smith and his buddies.




Michael and John Hjelmeland stand in front of the completed New shack in Fall 2020.