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Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch History

Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch is a Christian Camp located in southern Minnesota serving over 15,000 people per year. Our purpose is to provide an atmosphere and opportunity for adults and children to get to know themselves, others and God better. We strive to do this through our lives, words, and activities by conducting ourselves in a manner pleasing to God. Ironwood Springs has been a non-profit organization since 1976.

Meet our staff:
Bob Bardwell is our Founder who started Ironwood over 40 years ago.
Tracy Bashore is our Director of Operations.
Jaimi Stejskal  is our Director of Programs/Marketing.
Lou Kastler is our Development Director.
Grace Buckner is our Youth Programs.
Jan Odle is our Retreat/Food Service Director.
BJ Stoppelmoor is our Wrangler/Animal Farm Caretaker.
Laura Weiss is our Office Manager.
Jode Bardwell is our Accountant/Office Manager.
Dan Ostergard is our Facilities Manager.
Elaine Froiland does Housekeeping part-time.
Rich Young does maintenance.
Kris Young is our Head Cook.

Click Contact Us to contact any one of our staff.

Ironwood relies heavily on volunteers in an effort to keep costs low and make sure anyone who desires can afford to come to Ironwood. To find out more about volunteers, check out our volunteer page.

Who comes to Ironwood:
Ironwood serves a variety of groups from family reunions, corporate meetings, week-long camps, weekend retreats, church groups, team-building events, 4-H clubs, boy scouts, or just your family looking for a place to camp. Browse our site and enjoy viewing all that we have to offer. We would love to meet you!

We ask that you respect our request that there be no alcohol or tobacco use on our property. Weapons of any type are not allowed on Ironwood property.

Ranch History:
Bob Bardwell worked at Horn Creek Ranch in Westcliffe, Colorado, and back in 1969, he had a dream to start or work at a Christian Camp again someday. God used Bob's experiences at this camp to show him the spiritual, social, and emotional impact a Christian camp can have on a child for their lifetime. After leaving Horn Creek Ranch, it was Bob's goal to start a Christian camp of his own.

In 1973, Bob had finished seminary and gotten married. That same year he was paralyzed from the waist down in a heavy construction accident. This event led to a series of changes that allowed Bob to see the Lord's purpose and plan for his life. By 1976, land that Bob's father, Lester Bardwell, had purchased was transformed into the start of a non-profit, non-denominational, independent Christian camp, and Bob's dream was realized!

The name IRONWOOD came from the hundreds of Ironwood trees on the land, SPRINGS came from the boiling springs along the Root River, CHRISTIAN is the camp's primary reason for existence, and RANCH relates to the setting of trails, horses, and western themes.

  • 1976 - The first thing built was the driveway. The trails were the next thing to be developed. The current staff house was the first building built and served as the lodge with bunks and a kitchen.
  • 1978 - The main lodge was built up the hill.
  • 1980 to 1984 - The swimming pool, tennis courts, and the Solid Oaks Stables were built.
  • 1990 - The log-dining hall that is attached to the main lodge was built.
  • 1990 to 1997 - Seven cabins were built.
  • 1991 - The Recreation Center was built.
  • 1995 - 80 acres across the river to the north were purchased.
  • 1996 to 2000 - Building of the chapel with logs from Whitewater State Park.
  • 1997 - Two bridges were donated.
  • 2001 - The Main Office building was opened.
  • 2002 to 2005 - Castner Riding Arena.
  • 2007 - The opening of the Miracle Lodge.
  • 2007 - Ironwood began hosting weekend retreats for military soldiers returning from war and their families.
  • 2009 - Zip Line was built.
  • 2011 - The Ole Red Barn was remodeled from a BARN into a beautiful meeting space.
  • 2012 - Disk Golf course was designed and built.
  • 2013
    • 2 Bunkhouse cabins remodeled.
    • Mini Golf Course started.
  • 2014
    • 1 Bunkhouse cabin remodeled.
    • Zipline upgrade.
    • Landscaping has begun behind Miracle Lodge.
    • Additions: Dining deck and Pinic shelter.
    • Plans to rebuild Tubing Chalet resulting from fire.