Aerial Turtle Island


e This is Turtle Island. The island right next to it is called Four Winds Island. It is said that Turtle Island was once part of the Manistee National Forest. That is no longer so as the island is privately owned. There is a trail around the midsection on the island. There is also a treeless area where some people camp. In the photograph where you can observe two islands, the smaller Island is Turtle Island.

Aerial Four Winds Island


This is Four Winds Island from the air. Blocked out of sight is Turtle Island directly behind this one. Four Winds Island used to be home to Camp Martin Johnson and many buildings still exist on the island from the camp. If this photograph had been taken in the winter you’d probably see some of the buildings. This photo allows you to see the shallow areas around the island. There are five or six structures still on the island today along with a campfire area. The island is now privately owned. It is the third biggest island on the lake. Here is another angle of the island. The lake in question is Big Bass Lake. This is one of the cabins from Camp Martin Johnson on the island.

Turtle or Pirate Island


Were you surprised to learn that the Manistee National Forest is actually found ON Big Bass Lake? Now, you know that the forest surrounds the lake but ON the lake? How is that possible?Here you see both Turtle Island and Four Winds Island and how close they are in proximity to each other.

Well, the second smallest island on the lake I know as Turtle Island which some today call Pirate Island and it is found on the North side of Big Bass Lake. It is all forested and was actually owned by the Manistee National Forest. I understand that there are no camping signs on the island even though that many do choose to camp on that island. How habitable is this island? This marvelous photo came our way by Mike Elsner but perhaps there are those in the area that can tell us a little more about this island.

Could a house be placed on the island? The island next to it has about four structures on it so could Turtle Island be capable of housing one structure? How many locals have taken the time to camp on that island overnight? By way of an update, Turtle Island is no longer owned by the Manistee National Forest. It’s now privately owned. Let us know by way of a comment if you have further information about the island.

Amazing BBL


Big Bass Lake was not like other lakes in the region. There was not a single place on the lake where you could see everything. Most lakes you can see about everything but not here. The lake has five Islands on it. Grandma’s Hat is about as big as a living room. The North Twin Islands are Four Winds and Turtle. Four Winds Island once played host to Camp Martin Johnson which closed in 1976. The Cottages are still on that island. The Big Island has a bridge connecting it to the mainland. It is the only Island that has a great many houses on it. The last Island I affectionately call it the Haunted island. The island is largely forested and used to have a haunted house in the middle of the island. There is another unofficial Island called Sunken Island. A small area is 3 ft deep in the middle of the lake. What also makes this like unique is a passageway between Big Bass Lake and Little Bass Lake which is about a quarter-mile long. There is no speed limit on this Lake so boats can go as fast as they like. Yes, this is a remarkable Lake.

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?