Big Bass Lake in 1950’s

in the late 1950s, the road from our property to the Big Bass Lake store was a dirt road. And it was not as straight as it is now. Just before the road to the Big Island, the Road skirted around the Quagmire swamp. It was about a mile walk. When I took that walk with my dad he would go to the old Na-Tah-Ka Tavern for a drink while sending me to the store for a squirt soft drink. The Tavern in those days was a long cabin that was very dark inside. It sat kitty corner across from the Big Bass Lake store. That is when Otto Bartlett owned the store. Those were the days. A few years later and that road was paved between the store and our property. Nothing is forever.

Is It Bear Swamp or Duck Marsh?


My grandmother used to call this area, Bear Swamp, but today its known as Duck Marsh. Over the course of time many natural areas have their names changed. Both the tiny island on Big Bass Lake and the second smallest island have undergone name changes over the years. Whatever the name, along the road to Free Soil, there is about a mile long area that is swampy on both sides of the road. It is errie when a fog is over it and not the place to be at night.

In my grandmother’s day bears roamed the swampland and the surrounding forest. And they are making a comeback today as numerous bear sightings have been made not only in the Duck Marsh area, but also around Big Bass Lake. When their natural food is short they go for human areas of habitation to root out their garbage.

South of this area is another protracted area of swampland that runs north of the Bloody Antler Trail and into this very location. I would hazard to say that quagmire is beneath the waters of Duck Marsh. Thus this may be an area to get pictures of but I wouldn’t want to venture into this waters by foot.

Great View of Big Bass Lake

How’d you like this view every day in the morning at Big Bass Lake? You’re looking at the section between the Haunted Island to your left and the Big Island on your right leading toward the north side of the lake. That is the direction that speedboats take so as not to have collisions.

But what a view to behold on your own deck as you enjoy a hot breakfast or a cold lunch. It’s a ringside seat to some great water skiing action or even some tubing. An occassional jet ski may even pass by.

One might even think you could cast a line off that deck that could reach the lake for some easy time fishing. Yes, one could well be spoiled by a view like this every day. But it would well be worth it!

Why Are People on Big Bass Lake Building These Kinds of Homes If They Want to Get Away From The City?

I have featured this home before on BBL & Beyond but I do so again for emphasis as its asking price is $749,000! Why are people building homes like this over that of simple cottages if they want to get away from the cities? This house can accomodate up to twenty people!

One reason given for the closing of Camp Martin Johnson, where this house is located, was the high property taxes on the lake and a house like this would really have high taxes. How about this one?

This home was built on our former property and its going for $498,000! It comes with an eight car garage. It can’t be more than ten years old! I also think a problem is adequate well water that might be hard to find. Here’s a more modest mansion-

This home on Homestead Circle is only going for $300,000 and is not quite as large as the other two homes. Still larger than most regular cottages that dot Big Bass Lake. Here is another home with that same price tag on North Matson Road-

This home has plenty of yard space for children. But who can afford children with this kind of house? Lastly, we have a rather familiar building to most of those on Big Bass Lake and its asking price is far less than most of these homes at a mere $150,000.

Yes, its the old Big Bass Lake Store but the building itself is in very bad shape and it would almost have to be totally rebuilt for adequate living. It would also be sad to see this landmark building on Big Bass lake be turned into a residence again. I say again because long time residents will know that it originally served not only as a store, but the living home of Otto and Ruth Bartlett.

Yes, if you build it, they will come to buy and then resell it IF they can!

Camp Martin Johnson Through The Era’s Of Time

Here are two pictures of Camp Martin Johnson on Big Bass Lake in different era’s of time. In the black and white shot you can observe Grandma’s Hat Island somewhat easier in the background than in the color photograph. The black and white picture is from the camp in its heyday whereas the color photograph would be as it would be seen today.

I have often said how difficult it would be for former campers and staff to see it as it is today and the same would go for me and my family of our former property. Each has been built upon with large homes and with the old buildings scrapped living only in our memories now. Yet it is the kids that have suffered the most. Big Bass Lake should have a resident camp on it even now to share in the lakes history and recreational potential.

If former campers or counselors are reading this post, you might want to describe your memories of these photgraphs by way of a comment.

is that a sailboat on Big Bass Lake?

you don’t find sailboats on Big Bass Lake that much anymore. At the present time you don’t find them at all. After all it is winter time. But sometime in late spring you might find one or two sailboats on the lake. During summer time there are too many speed boats on the lake for sailboats to move around safely. I like to watch a number of sailboats especially with different color masts. Does anyone know how many homeowners on the lake have sailboats?

The cadet softball program

The Hoffman Estates Boys Club  softball program for Cadets  was for boys ages 6 to 10 . There were four teams involved  and they played a round-robin schedule .  All games were played on the southern field .  The championship game  was held on the Northern field .  Mayor Virginia Hayter was present  to toss out the first ball  and the torch Club  held the flag ceremony before the game  including the National Anthem being broadcast  over the loudspeaker . In cheer the softball program was a success .  Our broadcasting Club covered the game . IMG_20171107_202620oyXC7WzoA4CXPszIndPphjl7fNglqVYv

The Sky’s on Fire!

On a trip to Big Bass Lake with the Hoffman Estates Boys Club, we beheld several sunsets that appeared like the sky was on fire. No, the Van Allen Eadiation Belt had NOT caught fire so you can all relax. Alan Cohen took several pictures of these kinds of sunsets and later it really appeared as if the sky had been on fire.

What explosive sunsets we all took in that week! I don’t recall the weather much on that trip other than there was little wind. One day at Ludington we caught some breeze but that is a matter of fact on the beaches in that town. But at Big Bass Lake on that trip the air was very still and errie on that trip.

The reflections off of Big Bass Lake were remarkable. The kids loved swimming in it at those times. Then a scant half hour later and only the fire of our campfire illuminated the area. Since our firepit was but a few feet away from our beach, the kids could still frolic in the water even in the evening.

Have you ever seen sunsets like this on Big Bass Lake yourself? Share some of those experiences with us by way of a commnt.

Showcasing Haunted Island

this is a good-look at Haunted Island. The island is all Forest except for an old haunted house in the middle of the island. At least that’s how it looked in the 1950s and 60s. Just north of the haunted house was an old Indian burial ground. At one time there was a house on the southwestern part of the island. I noticed that in the 1950s. Even at that time there wasn’t much left of the house. I always liked going out to the island at night. It is one of five Islands on Big Bass Lake.

A Howling Good Time

It was just past midnight on a near Pitch Black night. The boys from the salesian boys club were approaching the Christmas tree farm on the bloody antler trail. A light mist was falling as this was the trip where it rained almost every day. It got lighter as we entered the Christmas tree farm. The boys could now feel the Mist getting a little harder. In the far distance we heard the howl of a wolf which sent chills up the boys spines. After a second Howl the boys were ready to call it a night. At campfire that night, the boys recalled the Howls of that wolf. Just another exciting night on the trail.