A Couple of Antique Views at Big Bass Lake

Here find a great view of Uncle Otto’s Big Bass Lake Store taken in 1950 by my Dad, Clyde Bartlett. At the time of this photo the store was a bustling mercantile catering mainly to the many visitors in the area.

And an earlier view of the YMCA Camp also taken by Dad. I don’t remember much about the camp but there are many memories on this blog.

In winter you see it; in summer you don’t

IMG_20171115_024329 what part of Camp Martin Johnson can you see now? It’s summer and you can’t see a thing! Yet beyond that tree line are the remnants of that camp including cottage’s and campfires. In winter you can see all of the remnants of Camp Martin Johnson. Yet please don’t tresspass on the island as it is private property. If you want to see the cottages, check out our category Four Winds Island and you can see what’s on the island without violating private property.

Camp Martin Johnson and Four Winds Island

IMG_20171116_194049IMG_20171116_194505 both Islands are Four Winds Island and in the former you can see how close it was to Camp Martin Johnson. For many it would be an easy swim to the island. In the color photograph you can actually make out a building from the camp. How many former campers stayed on this island? And what was this island like?

Camouflaged Four Winds Island

IMG_20171022_230758 as you can plainly see, it is impossible during the summer months to photograph any of the camp Martin Johnson Buildings on Four Winds Island. The island is perfectly camouflaged with Greenery. All the pictures that we’ve taken of this island where when the camp was still in existence. Any other picture would be blocked by trees. This island is now privately owned and we respect the rights of that ownership to not trespass on their property.  I wanted to make that crystal clear.

East of the narrows at Big Bass Lake

bbl-671 you are looking at Four Winds Island on Big Bass Lake. Just east of this island is both sunken island and the channel between big and little Bass Lake. On one side of this section of the lake was Camp Martin Johnson. Noted author Anne Louise Chase lived on the opposite Shore. She wrote several histories on the lake. I believe that Tiny’s bait shop has copies of these books. 

Walking to Four Winds Island in the Winter

I’ve always wondered what it might be like to live on Four Winds Island in the winter? Of course you’d have to lay in a lot of supplies. Then again are wires strung out to the island for electricity or do they have their own generator? I think it would be great to own your own island.

And whereas the mainland Camp Martin Johnson is almost all but lost the same can’t be held true on Four Winds Island where history is still present. Several of the cabins, with graffiti, are still there for the looking. I can almost imagine former campers going out there with memories rolling in high gear. At least some of CMJ is still preserved on Four Winds Island.

Goodbye to Fall at Big Bass Lake

Big Bass Lake in November

It’s time to put away the rowboats and get ready for ice fishing. Fall at Big Bass Lake means wonderous scenery and hunting season. How many full time home owners call Big Bass Lake home for the entire year?

I haven’t posted for awhile but autumn was always the best time at the lake because of all the leaves turning colors. What are some of your memories of autumn at Big Bass Lake?

By the way, those are the twin islands on the north side of the lake.

More of Four Winds Island

Currently, Four Winds Island is privately owned but could you imagine a resident camp on that island now? Of course it would have to be a primitive camp, and a small one to boot, but wouldn’t that be great? Can you imagine the old camp buildings being used again for kids? As I understand it none of the facilities on Four Winds Island are winterized but it could be used for summer.

Yes, a camp with limited facilities wouldn’t attract the number of kids that Camp Martin Johnson once did. Still an island summer camp does have possibilities. A swimming area could easily be put into place and the old ceremony campsite could be reopened.

Even a limited usage of the island would make for a great camp. Or even a two week wilderness camp with tents erected on the island. As I’ve said before, Big Bass Lake deserves a resident camp of some sort. I had always envisioned one on our old property before it, like Camp Martin Johnson, was sold. Maybe some day Four Winds Island will again be available for kids?

Ladies Island

During the era of Camp Martin Johnson on Big Bass Lake, the ladies in effect had their own island known as Four Winds Island. There were several structures on that island for living such as cottages and even a fancy outhouse. They still had to take meals at the Dining Hall on the mainland.

But what a paradise away from the mainland camp on their very own island. Aside from sleeping quarters I would be interested in knowing what those cottages were like? Was there a general room for meetings or a small kitchenette? I would think sleeping on the island would be better than at the regular camp as they caught all the breezes off of Big Bass Lake.

If you were one of the ladies that stayed on the island let us know what each cottage there was like. How many girls per cottage? And did boys ever use the island for their quarters? There was a tribal council ring quite close to the lake as that is pictured elsewhere under the category Camp Martin Johnson or at the tag “Four Winds Island”.

Perhaps even Dan Schultz could enlighten us as to what each cottage was like as to how many rooms they had and what they were used for. Comments are more than welcome.

The Four Winds Island Connection to Camp Martin Johnson

Basically the mainline area known as Camp Martin Johnson is no more however that is not exactly the case on 4-Winds Island where many remnants of Camp Martin Johnson still exist. Pictured here are two cottages that remain even to this day that just shout out about times past.

This is one island that I have never visited on Big Bass Lake. I am saddened by this as it would have been extremely interesting to visit. Perhaps some members of Camp Martin Johnson would care to comment about their experiences on 4-Winds Island and even that islands twin. For one, how large was 4-Winds Island and how many structures were on that island. How often did campers visit that island?

Those of us interested in Big Bass Lake and its history would like to know.

Boating to Four Winds

It would be fun to take a leisurely boat ride around Four Winds Island in the summer by rowboat in the early morning to determine just how much of that island could be seen through he forest green. How many of its current buildings, from the days of Camp Martin Johnson, can be clearly seen from the lake. Or would a better time for that row be in the early spring or late fall?

Can you imagine landing on that island to take in the view? What would exploring those old buildings be like? If you were a former camper, what memories would come to flood your mind from the days long gone? I understand there is still some graffiti on the walls of those cottages yet to this day. What thoughts would come rushing into your mind as you viewed the thoughts of former campers? Perhaps you either knew them or you were the one posting that on the walls yourself?

You might be glad to know that with the exception of some new repairs, the island remains virtually untouched frrom the days of the camp. I would think former campers would have a field day fully exploring Four Winds. How about it?

Looking West at The Twin Islands

If you were just exiting the channel from Little Bass Lake to Big Bass Lake this is the view that would await you. In the distance are the twin islands otherwise known as Four Winds and Turtle Island. The former was once the home of Camp Martin Johnson and it still has the original buildings on it although somewhat modernized.

Both islands are now privately owned as Turtle Island was once owned by the Manistee National Forest. En route to those two islands one would also find Sunken Island which is usually surrounded in summer time by an armada of pontoon boats so that their children can frolic in the two to three-foot water in the middle of that section of the lake.

And to the left side of the lake was once the property of Camp Martin Johnson.  Now the Heritage Bay Association owns that land and has built many modern mansions where the former camp once proudly stood.  But, what a spectacular view of the twin islands!