Around the Next Island at Big Bass Lake

One of my favorite past times at Big Bass Lake was to go “Island Hopping” and since there were five to choose from, it was a great deal of fun.  I would take our motor boat and first encircle Haunted Island before turning slightly northeast and travel the shoreline of the Big Island.  As I finished that course, I circled Grandma’s Hat which took all of 30 seconds to do since it was the smallest island on the lake.

Then I turned northward and traveled through the narrows of Big Bass Lake to get to the two islands on the north side of the lake.  Four Winds Island was once home to Camp Martin Johnson and still has all the buildings that were used at camp yet today.  Then I took a turn around Turtle Island which is the only island on the lake owned by the Manistee National Forest. 

Then it was back through the narrows again to Haunted Island on the southwest side and back to our dock.  Private homes are today found on the Big Island, formerly Waite Island, and on both Haunted Island and Four Winds Island.  I’ve always loved going around the next island at Big Bass Lake and would recommend that journey to anyone.

A Glance at Four Winds Island

Four Winds Island is now privately owned but deserted in the winter because its four structures are NOT winterized. In fact they remain virtually the same as in the days of Camp Martin Johnson and primitive as can be by today’s standards.

It makes me wonder if any of those structures had a fireplace? I would think not if they were primarily used in the summer time. Maybe a former camper or counselor may know if any of the buildings contained a fireplace? Also did the Island primarily use Big Bass Lake water or was a well drilled on that island for drinking water?

Aside from the 7 structures on the island what other remnants of the camp still exist today on that island? Have former campers or counselors been back to Four Winds since the camp closed?

Leave a comment and let us know.

A Scent of Yesteryear Remains at Camp Martin Johnson

Four Winds Island on Big Bass Lake largely retains the charm of what Camp Martin Johnson used to be as all its former buildings are to this day intact albeit privately owned.  The mainland camp is nearly all but forgotten except for the tennis and basketball courts that you see here.  It causes me to wonder if they are maintained by some sort of homeowner’s association?

And how often are they used by the Heritage Bay residents?  If those homeowner’s have children then the faint sounds of children’s laughter can still be found at the forme camp site.  Another thing remaining at camp is the now unmarked grave of Martin Johnson. 

When former campers and staff return to their former camp, I wonder what thoughts fill their heads?  Can they make out what used to be there?  Or have the waterfront, dining hall, campfire circles, and the like drifted away through the years?  Let us know what remains of camp in your memories.

The Twin Islands in Close Proximity

Sometimes when you come upon these two islands from various directions, it is hard to tell which is which. The main difference is that Four Winds Island has buildings on it whereas Turtle Island does not. For a time, Four Winds Island was owned by Camp Martin Johnson whereas Turtle Island is owned by the Manistee National Forest. It would be fun to check out the structures on Four Winds Island and hear them “talk” of the days of Camp Martin Johnson. Some have graffiti still on them with a voice out of the past to those that choose to hear.

Turtle Island, on the other hand, would be intriguing to camp upon and explore what little is there. Could this island support even one structure? And what is the distance that separates these two islands?   How far are they in proximity to the channel between Big and Little Bass Lakes?  How have the structures on Four Winds Island been altered to fit the new owners plans?  Is there any option to winterize any of those buildings? 

Any answers out there in Big Bass Lake and Beyond  land?

Beautiful Four Winds Island

Four Winds Island is a beautiful Island and former home to Camp Martin Johnson. It is currently privately owned although all the original building are still intact. It is the only real connection to Camp Martin Johnson outside of the original home now at Skinner Park in Irons. The island is perfectly shaped and quite beautiful. It is directly in front of Turtle Island going south to North.

The Ladies of CMJ

When young ladies were added to the rolls of campers at Camp Martin Johnson how did this change the complexion of camp?  I know for a time the ladies were housed on the facilities at Four Winds Island possibly as a means of segregation.  How did the mixing of the sexes go initially at the camp?  Were activities co-educational? 

Leave us a few comments as to your takes on this issue.  How closely were the staff trained in regard to handling the issues of older teens during this transformational process?  And, what year did girls first begin attending the camp?  Were dances part of the camp program at that time?  All good questions and now I am ready for some answers.  The floor is open!

Natahki Drive on Big Bass Lake

My new blog friend, Joan, from “My Quality Day (Blogroll)” recently featured the northern two most islands (Turtle and Four Winds) on Big Bass Lake which she mistakenly thought were the two largest islands. She snapped the picture from Natahki Drive or Road on the land that used to be owned by Camp Martin Johnson. The area she outlined in yellow bears that out. In fact, Four Winds Island was owned by the camp.

From Joan’s satellite view you can observe the two islands in question just off the shoreline of what used to be Camp Martin Johnson.  However the two largest islands are south of there and can be photographed by either the Public Landing or by taking the bridge to the Big Island and gaining view of that island as well as Haunted Island to its west. 

I personally believe Haunted Island to be the most fantastic of all the islands on the lake.  Natahki is what Big Bass Lake used to be called in its early days.  There was even a girls camp under that name once on the lake. 

Here now are Joan’s two islands on the north side of the lake.

All of the islands on Big Bass Lake can be found in our Categories on the sidebar. And that even includes Sunken Island which is just east of the two islands pictured here. That underwater island is between the two islands here and the channel between Big and Little Bass Lake. Last December I did a multi-part series on Turtle Island featuring pictures around and on that island.

Its twin, Four Winds Island, can also be found in Categories and features many pictures of the remains of Camp Martin Johnson.  Also check out Grandma’s Hat Island, Haunted Island, The Big Island, and Sunken Island.  Of the latter one in a few days I will have a great shot of that submerged isle.  You also might want to check out the Category about The Big Bass Lake Channel for some excellent photographs. 

Big Bird at Big Bass Lake

Big Bird here and I’m about to take off. The control tower has giving me clearance and I’m off to check out this lake. Haunted Island doesn’t look too scary to me and from up here the Big Island doesn’t look too big either. Tiny Tim is definitely tiny and Turtle Island rather scares me. It looks so foreboding. Now Four Winds Island looks like a fun place for me to camp for the night. Oh, it used to be a camp? Well it’s about to be a camp again. After all birds of a feather should stick together. I’m a poet and don’t even know it.

Bass Lake Bridge to Big Island

This Photograph appears to be taken from the Haunted Island and of the bridge to the Big Island. This time we have a beautiful sunny day. Before the bridge was constructed in 1954 one had to go all the way around the Big Island to get to the Big Bass Lake store. It was a land mass to the Big Island and at that time it was technically not an island. For a time it was called Waite Island after Clyde Waite who was responsible for the bridge going in. The Big Island has more people living on it then all the other Islands combined. Haunted Island now has at least one occupant on the island as does Four Winds Island. The other two islands have no one living on them.

Aerial Big Bass Lake Area

This is an overview of Big Bass Lake and you can observe the three islands on the southern part of the lake and from the West they are the haunted island, the Big Island, and Grandma’s hat Island. To the north are Four Winds Island and Turtle Island. On the upper right side of the picture you might be able to see the channel between big and little Bass Lake. In all the lake had 290 Acres while our original property line included 300 acres. Are property extended from the southern West part of the lake all the way north of the lake.

The Natually Camouflaged Four Winds Island

From late Spring to early Autumn, Four Winds Island is so naturally camouflaged that you can’t make out the buildings on it from a few hundred yards out into Big Bass Lake. What buildings are there were largely present during the days of Camp Martin Johnson when the island was an extension of their camp.

Of late, I have paid a lot of attention to its twin, Turtle Island, but Four Winds Island has its own mystique to it as well. I am sure its name was derived from the winds circulating through its trees and coming from all four directions. It’s at the far side of the narrows and that passageway often gets fairly good wind speeds especially out of the north.

Though I’ve never set foot on Four Winds Island myself, because it is privately owned, the camp had taken many photographs of it. Also having lived on the southwestern side of the lake, the island I was more interested in during the 1970’s and 80’s was the Haunted Island.

The people who now own Four Winds Island have an interesting heritage to that isle as it holds so much of the history of the former camp. Perhaps its just as well that the island is so well camouflaged the majority of the year to offer some measure of privacy to those that now own it? The rest of us can just appreciate it as we pass it by.

From the Sunken Island

This Photograph was taken from the Sunken Island area and is looking West toward Four Winds Island. Sunken island is a small area in the middle of the lake that is only 2 to 3 ft deep. Pontoon boats often surround the area letting their children know where it’s safe to play. This is a unique part of Big Bass Lake. Just beyond Four Winds Island is Turtle Island and the corridor South to the other three islands and then also North to the rest of Big Bass Lake.