Township. It is a
912 - acre lake in southwestern part of Lake County in the Pere
Marquette River Watershed. It is the largest body of
water in the county.
along with 28 other counties was created in 1840.
Originally its name was “Aishcum”, after a Pottawatomie Indian
Chief who was very involved in Indian land treaties with the
. The name was changed to
on 8 March 1843, and was organized in 1871.
was still very much remote and un inhabited until just after the Civil
War when a group of Veterans drifted up and started settling near
Baldwin and Luther. Brother’s
by the name of CARR who were veterans from New York State were some of
the first to arrive thus the name given to the area and “Carr
Telephone” service which we have at the lake now.
settlement was sparse until the coming of the Railroad, which brought a
few more settlers, many who worked on laying the rails. The
“Flint & Pere Marquette” railroad came to the area in 1872 on it
way to Lake Michigan from the
area. In 1883 the “Chicago
& West Michigan” railroad reached the area on its way north to
. Not many people know that
there was a “Spur” of the “Pere Marquette” that went right into
. It came into the North and
went across a portion of the lake, where the trailer park is now,
according to old Railroad Maps.
Along that “spur” was the former ghost town of “Bennett”.
The spur ended at the
Lake. Some say the
“spur” came into the lake because of the lumbering in the area.
Trees were cut and floated on the lake to load onto the train.
Some ‘old timers’ even say some of the ‘resorts’ we now
have were originally small cabins built identically and for the purpose
of those working on the lumbering. Most
of the forests were Stripped clean by lumbering before “The
Depression” of the 30’s like most of northern
. But during the Depression
the government established the WPA (Work Progress[Projects]
Administration) on 6 May 1935, under the CCC (Civil Conservation Corp)
camps. This was started by
Presidential order and funded by Congress annually to supply jobs for
the millions of people who were unemployed and jobless during the
Depression. This lasted
until Congress closed it down in 1943.
The way it worked was to supply housing for the men who would
leave home to live in an almost military style life while replanting the
forest. As you drive around
the lake you can see the White Pines in very straight rows that were
planted as seedlings during this time.
Most of this is State land and still lumbered, but not completely
like decades ago, but sections at a time, and replanting as they clear
Electric did not come
until 1938. Was that also
brought in to the area with the help and work of the CCC and WPA?
Which ever it was, things were still very rustic compared to how
we know it today. The roads
were not the paved nine (9) miles of black top that we have now, but
sand trails as can be seen in the picture provided by the Barnum family.
Along the main ‘Star Lake Road’ there is a street that comes off named “Tower Road” or “Old Tower Road”. It is named so because
down this path there used to be a wooden Fire Tower which was manned by
State Employees of Michigan. The
tower is no longer there, but many elderly can remember climbing up to
the top of that tower when they were young.
More Lake Facts you
might not know about:
Big Star Lake has no inlet and one intermittent outlet with a lake-level
control structure. Water that flows out of Big Star Lake through
the outlet flows through a series of wetlands into Jenks Creek, a
tributary of Danaher Creek, which is a tributary of the Pere Marquette
River. The legal lake level was set in 1987 at 829.0' above mean
sea level. Big Star Lake has a maximum depth of 25 feet at normal
lake level; however, the lake is susceptible to fluctuations with the
groundwater table. During unusually dry or wet conditions the
water level can fluctuate several feet. One restriction on the
lake level control structure is that water cannot be discharged when the
water temperature exceeds 68°, This
is to protect the brown and/or brook trout in Jenks Creek.
Fish & Fishing
According to official records, Big Star Lake was first stocked with
bluegill in 1929 by the Michigan Department of Conservation (MDOC), the
precursor to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR).
From 1929 through 1941, it was stocked with varying numbers of
largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and bluegill.
Walleye fry were stocked once, in 1935. An unpublished MDNR file
correspondence indicated that northern pike were not present in Big Star
Lake until sometime in the 1940s. The first official record of
them can be found in 1948. How northern pike were introduced and
who introduced them is unknown. Northern pike have been prominent
in the fish population of Big Star Lake since their apparent
introduction in the 1940s. Northern pike fishing, had continued to
decline through the 1950s. In an attempt to improve northern pike
fishing, 2,000 fingerlings were stocked in 1961. Residential
development of the shore and removal of natural shoreline vegetation to
create beaches may have also played a role in the drop of the northern
pike population. A proposal was developed in 1965 to establish an
artificial northern pike spawning march on private property. This
- belonging to
"Wahl-Heideman" Family. In 1966,
the marsh, located on the eastern shore of the lake near the outlet, was
put into production and it continued to operate in 1967, 1968, and
1969. Records indicate that 117 adult northern pike were netted
from the lake and placed into the marsh in 1968 and 113 adults in
1969. Fisheries Biologist Bill Bullen wrote in 1971 correspondence
that Big Star Lake held the largest pike population of any lake he had
worked on. He attributed this to the operation of the pike marsh
and also to high water levels which had allowed northern pike access to
prime spawning areas. The spawning marsh did not operate from 1970
through 1972 due to high water levels. Again in 1973 the operation
in the marsh was hampered by continued high water levels and vandalism
to the fish trap. In 1974, 210,000 northern pike fry were stocked
into the marsh, but fisheries personnel were unable to evaluate whether
fingerlings eventually migrated out into the lake. In 1975,
approximately 300 adult northern pike either were stocked or migrated on
their own into the marsh, but again, the outlet structure was
vandalized, making evaluation impossible. Due to these
difficulties, the artificial pike rearing program was abandoned in
Much more detailed
information about the fish population can be obtained from the MDNR.