The South’s Say Goodbye to the South Sawmill Lodge

Aerial view of South Sawmill Lodge in Island Park, Idaho.

Picturesque view of the South Sawmill Lodge on the old family homestead in Island Park, Idaho. The original sawmill was located nearby next to the old railroad line which is now a trail through Island Park.

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Giant, rocked fireplace is the centerpiece of the living room.

The giant rocked fireplace is the centerpiece of the main living room downstairs. Behind the fireplace are two storage closets with tables and chairs to set up for large dinners.

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It’s time to say goodbye to the South Sawmill Lodge. Randy South’s family of South Industries started the 90-foot diameter dome in 2009 on the old family homestead in Island Park, Idaho. Over the next four years, the family squeezed in time to finish the dome which became a lodge and reunion center rented out to dozens of families over the years. The lodge sold this spring.

Randy South’s family gathered leftover material from various jobs they’d done. Normally these pieces of rebar or wood would be thrown out, but they brought them to Island Park and started constructing a large dome in 2009. They couldn’t commit to construction full-time—their customers took priority—nor could they build in the snowy Idaho winters. Of course, it wasn’t all scavenged materials. They finished the interior with beautiful stained wood walls with black metal railings and supports. They finished the dome in 2013.

Main entrance to the South Sawmill Lodge.

The large, welcoming entrance is more than just a place for shade in the summer, it also keeps the entrance open during the deep winter snows.

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The South Sawmill lodge sign.

The South Sawmill Lodge is near the original South family Sawmill in Island Park, Idaho. The sawmill was owned by Barney and Marjorie South, parents of a generation of dome builders.

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Designed to hold Randy and Karen’s whole family—nine children with their spouses and children—the dome has ten large bedrooms on the bottom floor, twenty beds in two bunk rooms upstairs, a large kitchen, playrooms under the stairs, a loft with games, a movie theater. The real fun is found outside the lodge with swimming in the nearby creeks, cooking around the fire pit, riding motorcycles in the summer, riding snowmobiles in winter, target practice, horseshoes, and so much more.

And inside the lodge, it’s good food, visiting, and the occasional NERF dart war.

The lodge is situated in the middle of the Targhee National Forest and is less than an hour’s drive to Yellowstone National Park. Nearby is the Island Park reservoir, Mesa Falls, and miles of beautiful forest roads and trails.

The central living room downstairs.

The vast living room downstairs with two sweeping staircases to the loft. The living room is easily configured for visiting, eating, or playing group activities.

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The child's playhouse under the stairs.

Beneath each staircase is a small playhouse for younger children with a child’s door, a small window, and lots of toys.

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Large bed in one of ten downstairs bedrooms.

There are ten large bedrooms on the bottom floor. Each features a large bed and a walk-in closet large enough far a crib or playpen for an infant to sleep in peace.

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Two ranges and two refrigerators in the large kitchen.

The kitchen features two cook ranges, two refrigerators, ample counter space, and a large pantry.

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They began renting out the place as a family reunion center and for other large gatherings. Soon the lodge was booked for years and, eventually, the South’s constructed a similar, smaller dome about 15 miles away. They ended up using the small dome more often and eventually decided they didn’t need both.

They put the lodge up for sale in 2020 and closed the sale this spring. They sold it to a family from the Snake River Valley who will enjoy it with their extended family and will continue to rent it out to other families and groups.

Welcome video of the lodge including a detailed tour.

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Firepit outside the lodge.

Outside the lodge is a firepit with firewood, horseshoe pits, and many places to play. There is even a place nearby for target practice. The lodge is near the Island Park reservoir, Mesa Falls, and is an hour’s drive to Yellowstone National Park.

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Upstairs loft circles around living room.

The upstairs loft circles around the main living area below. There is even a little bridge over the main entrance (right).

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Table tennis, pool, and other upstairs activities.

Friends play table tennis, pool, or ride the upstairs zip line when they have tired of riding motorcycles or playing in the nearby creek.

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Two bunk rooms sleep twenty.

One of two bunk rooms on the second floor provides a quiet(er) sleeping space for ten in each room — a total of twenty beds.

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Home theater room.

The home theater complete with a projector and sound system plus comfy seating. There’s no internet service in the lodge so pick from a library of DVDs or bring your movies on your laptop to show on the projector.

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One of two washrooms with adjoining bathrooms.

One of two washrooms with two sinks and one lower child’s sink. Two water closets with toilet and bath connect to each washroom. One washroom connects to a deluxe standalone bathroom.

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Large, deluxe bathroom with soaker tub.

There is one deluxe bathroom with a large, soaker tub.

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Sunset at the lodge.

As the sun sets, it’s time to say goodbye to the South Sawmill Lodge. It will live on as a rentable reunion center with new owners, eager to keep it going for future family, friends, and fun.

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