Status: What Has Happened to the Camp Martin Johnson Heritage Museum in Irons?



Last November, the Camp Martin Johnson Heritage Museum in Irons, Michigan, earned their tax-exempt status but when I recently tried to locate its previous Internet location it seemingly has disappeared.  The museum now resides in Heritage Park in Irons and I would like to know its present status?

Ever since the camp ceased operations in the late 1970’s it has been besieged with various problems.  Just after it was sold looters descended on the camp property on Big Bass Lake stealing what they could.  That the camp was sold in the first place was the true beginning of its downward plunge.  The visions of Martin Johnson for his beloved land was now in ruins.  He wanted children to enjoy his land and now only rich home owners do from the Heritage Bay Development Company.

Once Martin Johnson’s house was moved to Irons it established some hours for touring the facility.  Another downside is that the gravesite remains at Big Bass Lake unmarked.  It should be moved to the site of the house in Irons where it can be properly maintained. 

Yet, now, with the Internet site gone, what has become of the Museum idea?  Last year I spoke with Tom Curtin Sr., who had developed that website, but this morning I learned that he passed away last June.  Now with the driving force behind that museum no longer with us, what will become of its fate?  I also found a website asking for donations to maintain the museum but none was forthcoming.

However, where the vision of Martin Johnson really lives is in the hearts and minds of the campers and staff that went there as children.  Yet even that will one day run its course.  But, here, at Big Bass Lake and Beyond, the vision of Martin Johnson will remain both in the category (on sidebar) of Camp Martin Johnson but also on the man himself found in a page at the top of our website. 

As for the status of the museum itself, if you know anything about what is happening there, leave us a comment.

6 thoughts on “Status: What Has Happened to the Camp Martin Johnson Heritage Museum in Irons?

  1. Dave, do you mean Tom Curtin JR and not SR? I met Tom JR two years ago and he was active with the Museum, not sure if his dad Tom SR was even alive then and even if he was he would have been nearly 90, I don’t know too many 90 year olds that have websites. Was it Tom JR that just died or Tom SR? Also, the Irons Area Tourist Association (IATA) runs the museum via some voulenteers. They have a web site.
    http://www.ironsarea.com
    You could check with them to find out the status of the Museum and Toms fate.

  2. Dave, I am Tom Curtin Jr. The reports of my death are certainly news to me. The Martin Johnson Heritage Museum is also alive and well. The website that is refered to has never been run or managed by the museum,it is a website run by alumni of the camp. They don’t seem to be able to keep it going. I hope they can get it up and running again soon.They have reunions in Chicago every four years or so….there may be one this summer. We do need more members/volunteers at the museum and we are constantly trying to improve and add to the exhibits that we have. We have many needs and to that end I posted a letter to the alumni on their website but I don’t think it was seen by too many people. I am still hopeful that we can get an endowment set up to fund the museum in perpetuity…in the meantime we are working on grants to pay for work that needs to be done. If anyone is interested in either volunteering or making a donation I can be reached @lumberjacklodge@msn.com or call me @ 231745 8505. TOM CURTIN

  3. Dave, The museum does not have a website. I have been thinking about a facebook page about the museum and may set one up but being almost totaly computer illiterate it is something I have to give some more thought to make it make sense. I forgot to mention in my last post that besides being a 501c3 corp. we now own the property that the museum sits on. We are also trying to get one of the cabins from camp that could be moved to the museum. If you have any more questions feel free to e-mail or call me. Tom Curtin

  4. Tom- I have started a Facebook page on Big Bass Lake in addition to this one on WordPress which als isn’t a bad venue. My Facebook page is on the blogroll on this site.

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