Frosty Loon Lake


Here is a good winter picture of Loon Lake which is just a good stones throw from Big Bass Lake to the south. No, you won’t find too many loons out there on this frigid day. Perhaps a few human “loonies” might be trying there hand at ice fishing on this particular cold day. The birds have taken wing for the south well before this time of the year.

Yes, and even a few Loon Lake people have headed for Florida. This year perhaps more for the inward lakes than that of the Gulf of Mexico as the oil spill from BP is still affecting the area and will be for some time to come.

I wonder how many year round residents there are at Loon Lake? If anyone lives around that lake let us know. And, then, put a few more logs in your fireplace so you will be quite warm after any outing at your lake.

Fall at Loon Lake


I know we’re in December, but still technically it’s Autumn. And here at Loon Lake, it looks like Autumn. I love the reflections of the trees on the lake. My husband used to fish Loon Lake when we lived in Michigan. I don’t think he misses the cold weather but he does miss the Manistee National Forest. He always thought that Loon Lake was a peaceful and Serene place. He never took me to Loon Lake but he has shown me pictures of it like this one. If we ever get back to Michigan I think I want to see Loon Lake.

Loon Lake Lawsuit?


I am puzzled by something I read recently  about a lawsuit against Loon Lake .  Maybe some of our readers can Enlighten us  as to what this lawsuit is about  and has it been resolved yet ? How do you sue a lake ? Being a sister Lake  to Big Bass Lake  this whole thing interests me. I hope  it  gets resolved  in Loon Lakes favor.

Camp Martin Johnson History Part One by Martin Johnson


I was dreaming, dreaming of a place up north in the woods where there was a beautiful lake. I never had any desire to go South, East, or West — only North.

After two or three days I went back to Marquette. One of the hunters went with me or I would not have been able to find my way through the woods and over the mountains. I did a few oil sketches, mostly on “Dead River” and then went back to my old home in Sparta township and made portraits for three years. A boy friend got consumption and his doctor said that the only hope for him was to go camping among the pines. He induced me to take him up north. So in 1889 I brought him into Lake County and we camped near where my home came to be. We should have left the train at Peters Crossing but through some mistake of the man who directed us, we were carried on to Manistee, crossing 25 miles north. Next morning we took the train back to the water tank on the little Manistee River, but had bad luck at the river where we camped but it rained all the time. As soon as the weather cleared I struck out across the country to find Bass Lake or the Saubel Lakes. I found the Saubel Lakes in the afternoon and next day brought the young man, Herbert Bromen, and we camped a few days until I got our supplies packed in. At that time lumbering operations were at their height, and Peter’s headquarters were at Saubel Lakes, with a crew of 100 men. In a few days, we moved to Loon Lake, where we camped the rest of the summer. At that time Loon Lake was surrounded with virgin pine which was in its beauty, wonderfuly majestic, the tall dark forest for miles around darkly solemn. At that time Lake County was one of the richest counties in Michigan but it is poverty stricken now, all through selfishness. If it had not been for selfishness, this county could have been as rich today as it was 45 years or 50 years ago. If the lumber men had cut only what was ripe and protected the rest from fire so it could have kept on growing, that would have kept them lumbering as the timber grew up. People want to get rich quick, make their pile and have what they call a good time. It is selfishness that spoils our lives and blinds us to the beautiful things of life. The things which alone can make up a happy and contented life for us. If it had not been for the fires or the cut-over land there would have been lots of timber yet. The state should have started reforesting years ago. The first night we camped at Loon Lake we had one of the worst thunder storms and cloud bursts I have ever seen, with continous lightning from all directions. It was impossible to sleep and towards morning Bromen asked me what I thought of this. I said I thought it was rather damp. The water was rushing all around us but it was lucky that we had our tent on a little knoll or we would have floated away. Many trees went down during the night and in the morning every other telephone pole and sometimes two or three in succession were shattered along Peter’s telephone line. It was the wildest night I have ever seen. The water had risen four inches in the lake during the night.

After we were well settled at Loon Lake I started to find Big Bass Lake. In this oak and pine forest it was pretty thick and dark; one could not see far ahead but I finally found it. I came to where the school house now stands and started to walk around the lake, but I could not see more than a small part of it at any time. I did not know that the lake was as big as it proved to be. I started walking north but when I had gone a little way I came to where the timber had been out and there the walking became extremely difficult. Fire had gone over and fire wood had grown up as high as my head. It was then shedding its down and filled my eyes, nose, and mouth with its soft, flaky, white wool. It also concealed the logs and brush underneath and made walking more difficult. At that time they did not cut the hemlock, or oak, or anything but pine and the other timber lost its support and was hurled in all directions. Here and there a big jumble of trees interlocked branches with weed and blackberrie briar all interwoven so it took from one and a half to two hours to go from where the school house now stands to where my house is now located.

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?

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.

Loon Lake Aerial


This month, the focus will be on the Loon Lake Roller Rink however I will not be posting every day as this is a rather small category.

From the Club 37 Restaurant, just off Michigan 37, it’s about 15 miles to Loon Lake and another mile to Big Bass Lake. At the southwest corner of this aerial photograph is the turn off onto Big Bass Lake Road as one ventures northward along the west side of Loon Lake.

About halfway to Big Bass Lake was the old Loon Lake Pavillion or the roller rink as most of us knew it. Loon Lake was in full view of the rink with the shutters open as the colors and sounds of the roller rink reflected off Loon Lake nightly in the summer season. At one time this rink was used for dancing and it was owned by the same man that owned the Big Bass Lake Store, Otto Bartlett.

His daughter, Dixie, was an excellent roller skater in her own right. Past the rink the road has a few twists and turns before going up a small hill looking smack dab at Big Bass Lake straight ahead. Before arriving at the lake, on the right is the Na-Tah-Ka Bar and Grill.

As for Loon Lake, I often heard of its fishing lore but not much about how good swimming was there. What say you?

Legend of The White Loon


The boys of the Hoffman Estates Boys Club witnessed a marvelous wonder on a night where the Northern Lights shimmered over Big Bass Lake for they saw the image of The White Loon. This mystical bird makes its appearance only every decade or so over his ancestral home. I remember an old man by the name of Mose who told me about this loon and how the legend of it began way back in the 1800’s. Some say it is the reincarnated spirit of an old Indian who frequented the area at that time. Think about it. Manistee means “spirit of the woods” so is it so inconceivable to think of The White Loon as a disembodied Indian?

So on the night after the 4th of July the boys were feasted to a light display of the Northern Lights and all sorts of images appeared in that night sky. However that White Loon appeared at least three times which caught the boy’s attention. And at campfire that night they wanted to know more about that White Loon and so I gave them the legend. Of course the boys knew of the Indian burial grounds on Haunted Island so that is where the story began.

Long ago there was an Indian by the name of Salinetro. Many in his tribe thought he was a little over the edge as he always did strange things. While others hunted for game, he searched for his squaw who was always walking out on him. After a time his tribe sent Salinetro away on a spirit quest to determine just who he might be. He spent his time deep in the Manistee National Forest and had visions but all of them were of rather silly things.

Upon returning from his spirit quest and speaking of all his unusual visions, his tribe banished him to the wilderness. There he continued a relentless search for his squaw who all the time was safely back at the Indian village. Salinetro could not seen to distinguish fantasy from reality and went half crazy. He was dubbed The White Loon by his tribe and never again saw his people.

Legend has that he stumbled upon Big Bass Lake in the late 1800’s. He found out that Lake Natahki (the original name of BBL) was not named after him. Why it should have been is another mystery but since all this was in his crazed head, Salinetro could have named that lake anything. With his dying breath he swore that he would never abandon that lake and appear from time to time in the night sky.

Our kids witnessed one of those appearances as the White Loon distinctly was found in those Northern Lights. Some of the boys even imagined a cry from that loon as if in agony. In truth Salinetro’s whole life was one devoted to agony and disgrace. Yet there he was in the heavens as clear as a bell. What the boys couldn’t figure out is why Salinetro was so bent on presiding over Big Bass Lake when Loon Lake was just down the hill? Then again, perhaps he never had searched for his squaw at Loon Lake?