Big Star Lake is in Lake County and Lake 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.  Lake 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 United States .  The name was changed to Lake County on 8 March 1843, and was organized in 1871.

Big Star Lake 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. 

 Still 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 Saginaw area.  In 1883 the “Chicago & West Michigan” railroad reached the area on its way north to Traverse City .  Not many people know that there was a “Spur” of the “Pere Marquette” that went right into Big Star Lake .  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 Michigan .  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 away. 

Electric did not come to Big Star Lake 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 History:
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 1977.  

Much more detailed information about the fish population can be obtained from the MDNR.




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Baldwin, MI.
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