The Loon Lake Roller Rink

Loon Lake Roller Rink

This IS the Loon Lake Roller Rink thanks to the Bartlett family which forwarded us three pictures of the area. . It used to be the “social hub” of vacationers in and around Big Bass Lake. The music was of the old theatre organ type and open ports were found throughout the rink. My sisters and my motherlooked forward to our times there as that was usually the highlight of our trip to the farm for them. I could take it or leave it.

They had that old fashioned ice cream, kind of like the type Dairy Queen puts out today. They also had an old air hockey game table as I recall. The rink was just across from Loon Lake. As time went on the floor became slightly warped giving roller skating an all new twist.

At times they had specialty numbers there where only girls or boys could skate and at times even couples. With not much else to do around that area at night most people wound up there.

The rink doesn’t exist anymore sad to say. It was owned by Otto Bartlett who also owned the Big Bass Lake store. At one time before the roller rink it was a dance hall. If only those old time walls could talk.

The Ice Cream at The Loon Lake Pavilion

One thing I regret about my boys Club trips to Big Bass Lake and that was that they never got to experience the Loon Lake Roller Rink. I suppose the kids would have rolled their eyes at the organ music, but they would have loved the ice cream served there. It had a Dairy Queen consistency that was quite good. But they would have also liked to roller skate each trip we made there. That would have made the trip even better. I personally enjoyed the ice cream too. I was never the best roller skater and I’m sure the kids would have laughed me right out of the rink. You know I could use one of those ice cream cones right now!

How About a Roller Skating Rink at Big Bass Lake?

IMG_20170922_213038 This is the Loon Lake roller rink and if they had one could not Big  Bass Lake have one too? Think about it? With all the new homes going into this area shouldn’t the young people have something to do? Of course they have Lake activities during the day but what about at night? And this is an activity for the entire family! Something to consider? And what part of the lake would be the best place to put it?

Loon Lake Magic

Loon Lake is just down a hill from Big Bass Lake yet this other lake has a magic all its own. For those that once lived on that lake in the 1950’s and 60’s, at night they were treated to the theatre organ music of the Loon Lake Pavilion. From almost anywhere on that lake you could make out the bright colors from that facility in the evening.

I’v always thought of Loon Lake as more of a fishing lake than a recreational lake. I’ve seen a lot of fishermen out there at almost any time of the day but precious few doing things like water skiing. Between it and Big Bass Lake it was the quieter of he two and that’s not all bad.

Without the constant flow of speedboats crusing around, Loon Lake residents can enjoy the peaceful serenity of their lake. For about half its length, a winding road follows its shoreline. For those that live on this lake, let us know a little something more about life on Loon Lake by way of a comment.

What are Your Memories of the Loon Lake Roller Rink?

What are your special memories of the Loon Lake roller skating rink? Do you remember the special numbers by Dixie Bartlett? How many times did you fall there? Did you rent your own skates or bring your own? How old were you when you first went there? How good of a roller skater were you? Do you remember the vanilla soft ice cream in the back? And the music there? Did you like it? Who was your first partner in roller skating? Why hasn’t anyone built a new skating rink maybe at Big Bass Lake? Let us know your memories by way of a comment.

The Lights and Music of the Loon Lake Roller Rink

You could see the reflection of the colored lights on Loon Lake almost from every point of the lake, not to mention the theatre organ type music resounding off the waters. Inside was the slightly warped floor, the shutters flung open on warm nights so one could observe the night sky over Loon Lake, and that organ music belting out the tunes. Now and then all skaters had to leave the floor giving way to couples or all women or all men. I seem to recall some sort of ball that reflected different colors throughout the evening depending on the musical number.

I recall a side room with dairy queen like ice cream and a few pinball machines. As I said in another post, before this was a roller rink it served as a dance club. Otto Bartlett owned both the roller rink and the Big Bass Lake store so he was an early tycoon in the area. His daughter, Dixie, was a superb roller skater.

In the 1950’s when my family spent a few weeks at our family farm on Big Bass Lake we made several evening trips to that roller rink. They need another one on Loon Lake or better yet, Big Bass Lake.

Johnny’s Skate Center in Custer

The Loon Lake roller rink maybe no more but in Custer there is Johnny’s Skate Center and it’s been going strong for 65 years. It’s not all that far from where Mike and me lived in Scottville. And even from the Big Bass Lake area it’s not all that far. If you want to have an enjoyable evening after a day of swimming or fishing in an area Lake try Johnny’s Skate Center out for size. It will be an enjoyable evening for your entire family. If you want to know where Custer Michigan is it’s close by to Walhalla. Does that help?

It’s also not that far from Branch Michigan. Somehow I don’t think I’m being that much help? Well when you do get there you’ll forget all about directions for the night because you’ll be having a great night. And maybe it will remind of those memorable nights at the Loon Lake Roller Rink from the 1950s and 60s. Happy skating!

The Loon Lake Dancing Pavillion

Otto Bartlett, the owner of the Big Bass Lake Store, also owned the Loon Lake Roller Rink which was about a half-mile south of the store.  But before it was a roller rink, it was a dance hall.  And every Saturday and Sunday night there was dancing galore on the same floor that roller skaters would in the future call home, 

Here’s the teaser for this post.  Do any of our readers know who The Lucky Stars were?  They were the musicians who provided live music for the Pavillion in those days.  Were they a local group?  Does anyone know the names of those in the group? 

Even better, are there any that read our website that danced at the Pavillion in those days?  I have a hunch that Dixie Bartlett was somewhere in the mix at that location.  These questions are liable to take you way back and test your memory.  The dance floor is open for comments on this subject.  How about taking a whirl at them? 

Special Sauble Lake by Dale

I grew up on Sauble Lake at least the main one. In those days The Emporium was open and I loved shopping there with my mom. I don’t think any place had better ice cream then they did. On weekends I’d get to roller skate at The Loon Lake roller rink. It was a blast. I loved the ice cream there too. We moved away from Sauble Lake when I was 11. I’ve never been back since. I now live in Washington State and it’s a long haul back in Sauble Lake. I used to love swimming in that lake. I wasn’t much for fishing but swimming was another thing. I ran across this website the other day and have submitted this article which I hope they will publish. I come here occasionally to reminisce. Keep up the good work guys.

The Roller Rink on Loon Lake

You could almost ice skate on Loon Lake today. The water is so calm and peaceful with Nary a ripple. I wonder how long that will last? I often wonder if boats were out in the lake when the Loon Lake roller rink was in operation? I’m sure the organ music could be heard around the lake. In fact I wonder how far away the music was heard? The place was usually packed and I remember they had several numbers where only certain age skaters could skate. I wonder how many fishermen were out in the lake at that time? Did the Organ music help to lure the fish in? Let us know by way of a comment how often you went to the Loon Lake roller rink


rest in peace are such comforting words. The Big Bass Lake store, Sauble Lake Emporium, Loon Lake roller rink, Ward Hill Ski Area, hotspot, the Paul Bunyan Museum, peacock Resort, North Shore camp, and Camp Martin Johnson remain in our memories but are no more. With some the structures remain but the spirit inside is gone. Perhaps you know of another entity that belongs on this list. Add a comment and let us know what it is and your memories of it. That also applies for any of our list above. I would also add to my personal list the Marion Boys Club, the salesian boys club, Hoffman Estates Boys Club, and Bradenton Boys Club. Of these only then Hoffman Estates Boys Club is gone completely. Rest in peace!

A Motor Boat Excursion of Loon Lake

Unlike Big Bass Lake just to its North, Loon Lake has no islands to clutter it up so my excursion about the lake took me in close proximity to its shoreline. I stopped my motor for a few minutes of reflection where the Loon Lake Pavillion once stood. I had been there a few times and remembered the colors shining on the lake and that old theater organ music.

I also remember that slightly warped floor that sent me to the ground several times.  A roller skater I am not.  Darlene was a good skater while I was better at the pin ball games they had there.  I don’t know why that area has not put up another roller rink for the summer crowd? 

Moving on I followed the shoreline past small cabins and even some newer ones.  When back on the northeast side I recalled some sort of camp or resort that was once there quite close in proximity to Na-Tah-Ka Bar and Grill.  At least where it stands today.  I think it was more of a resort than a camp but I don’t remember very well on that point. 

It made me wonder just how many of those area lakes had resorts on them?  Care to tell anyone?

Loon Lake Shoreline

Aside from going to the Loon Lake Roller Rink along with traveling the road alongside Loon Lake en route to Big Bass Lake, I haven’t spent a whole lot of time thinking about this lake.  I used to look out the open windows at the rink to catch a breather from skating and always thought I heard some sort of camp on the northeast shore?  That was back in the 1950-1960’s. 

I was even more amazed to read the history of Martin Johnson, founder of his camp on Big Bass Lake.  He spent a whole summer at Loon Lake little realizing that Big Bass Lake was less than two stone throws away  But then that short stretch between the two lakes was heavily wooded.  I often wonder why he decided not to stay upon Loon Lake to build his eventual camp and why he then chose to move on to Big Bass Lake? 

Are there any stories circulating around about Loon Lake that anyone would care to share by way of a comment?