history of long lake

Retreating glacier carved out depressions that eventually become lakes along with rivers and stream beds. Circa 14,800 years ago.

Early photo of boats by Ramona Park

Postcard of early dance pavilion structure. Judging from car 1940's.

Long Lake was formed as part of a glacial outwash plain around 14,800 years ago as the glacier that completely covered Michigan receded back to the north. The lake currently covers around 512 acres, however hundreds of years ago it was a much larger lake.  The legal depth was established in 1925 at 856 feet above sea level, the same as Austin Lake to the south.

 

The areas around our lake were inhabited by the Potawatomi Indian Tribe, even after their lands were ceded to the U.S. Government in 1817. They lived here in fairly large numbers, hunted, fished and planted corn in the Long Lake area. Two primary connecting trails between the Sauk Trail (now US 12) and the Potawatomi Trail (now Michigan Ave.),  were located just west of Long Lake. The primary route for most Native Americans during this time was the Portage Trail (now Portage Road). This ran South to what is now US 12 between Chicago and Detroit. Travelers used area lakes to portage around and through swampy, wooded areas.

 Many of our long time residents have discovered Potawatomi artifacts on their property. Most of the Potawatomis were forcibly removed by the U.S. government in the 1830's and sent to reservations out west. Portage was one of the last areas in the region to be developed for farming , due to the hardwood forests, swamps and marshes.

 

Moses Austin built a tavern just north of Austin Lake in the early 1800's. Elijah Root opened the first sawmill on Portage Creek at Milham Road in 1834.  In 1886 the Grand Rapids & Indiana railroad was completed and a spur brought visitors directly to the area that is now Ramona Park.  Around the turn of the century, there was commercial fishing done in Long Lake and some property owners established vacation resorts, such as the "Bucholtz Resort", " Summer Place Resort" and "Ramona Palace". Named after an Indian Princess from a popular 1880's romance novel, The "Ramona Palace Ballroom" was completed in the 1930's and became a very popular night spot for dancing and big band music across the mid-west region.

During the winter of 1901 a lake resident by the name of Frank Denner and a friend constructed a scary looking, 10 foot, wooden sea serpent, towed it about 100 feet out and attached a wire pulley device that ran to his boat house. When he let it rise to the surface, fisherman rowed to shore, cottagers fled and some residents patrolled the shore with shotguns! The monster appeared intermittently over the years, causing panic each time. The mystery was never solved until 1942 when Denner confessed to his role on his deathbed.

On January 24, 1970 a small plane crashed into the frozen, south end of Long Lake. Two Ohio men were killed, the only recorded incident of it's kind on area lakes.

The Potawatomi and native Americans lived on our lake for hundreds of years before settlers arrived. Planted corn, hunted and fished.

Native American artifacts found in the Greenfield Shores area of Long Lake.

After cyclical water levels in the late 1990's, an augmentation pump was installed in 2000. The pump is a 16" water cooled unit with a 100 hp engine. It can pump up 2500 gallons per minute from a lower aquafier.

HISTORICAL PHOTOS

IF YOU HAVE SOME YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE, E-MAIL THEM TO: JSPEETER@GMAIL.COM

We'd like to acknowledge the assistance of Paula Taylor on this site.

Ramona Pavilion Structure

Ramona Palace Structure- view facing East. Recognize the stairs?

Ramona Palace Complex

Ramona Palace Housing Structure

Buckholz Summer Resort Bathouse

Early Postcard - Ramona Park

Summer Resort Ballroom  (later became Roller Rink)

Ramona Palace Big Band Stage

Ramona Palace Bar Staff

Ramona Park Beach Slide

Portage Rail Stop Long Lake

Bus from town to Long Lake

Ramona Palace Dance and Dining Hall

Early Postcard - Ramona Park

Buckholz Resort located at the site of the former roller rink.

Diving Platform - Ramona Park

Ramona Palace Flyer 1919

Ramona Park Beach

Picnic Area - Ramona Park

Early Photo- Ramona Park

Ramona Park Bath House