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Hamlin Lake Preservation Society


Protecting Hamlin Lake for Future Generations 

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From:          Dave Hall [cdhall@charter.net]

            Sunday, December 14, 2008


The data here are taken from years of family journals, and give some story of the timing of ice on Hamlin Lake.  Bear in mind that this is the best we can do considering the difficulty of observing the whole lake.

For years, we'd go out to the bluff, and if the lake were ice covered as far as we could see, we'd declare it frozen.  Then, in the spring, if the lake were open enough to row a boat from the Middle Bayou to the State Park, without having the oars touch any ice, and if it stayed open, we declared it ice free as of the day that the rowing would have happened if we'd taken the time to do it. 

Usually, though, the date of opening was recorded when the whole lake, looking from our bluff, seems ice free.  That's usually a very sudden event.

Then, in more recent years, Kent and Peg Gage moved to the area of the Narrows, and we'd compare data.  When I saw ice everywhere, Kent would report that the north quarter of the lake was open.  It's all due to the curvature of the earth, and things like that.  Sometimes, after a cold spell, he'd allow that the lake was frozen everywhere but at the Narrows.  Very frustrating for the data collector.  So bear in mind that the data isn't perfect.  The Narrows Test is apparently more rigorous than the Middle Bayou test.

Rumor has it that there was a group that tried to make a more accurate measure of ice conditions, way back in the 1940s and maybe the early 1950s, before littering was invented.  Their method was to drag an old, junk car out to a point on the ice somewhat east of the Narrows while the lake was still solidly frozen.  Then they'd start a winner-take-all pool, with entrants paying a dollar to guess the date that the car would finally sink through the ice in the spring.  I suppose that someone could hurry the process by sneaking out in the middle of the night and chopping holes around the car until it sank, but there's no record of this ever having happened.  We're all pretty honorable up here in the frozen north.

Lately, I've taken to flying over the lake to check on freeze-up and ice-out dates, but that's still not too good.  This year, for example, even the geese were having airframe icing problems about the time that the lake appeared frozen, so there was no way I was going to risk a flight to see the lake ice.  By the time I did get up, almost a week after it appeared frozen, there was no question about it; things were solid down there, so I declared the date.

The next day, I got a call from Kent, who reported that the narrows had finally frozen up.  My date, December 7 by the Middle Bayou Standard, was almost a week ahead of Kent's Narrows Standard.

I guess the next significant date will be when Ed Dennison reports the Upper Lake Fish  Shanty Standard, when there are at least three shanties out there.  Or is it six shanties?  I forget.


Dave Hall



  Hamlin Lake Preservation Society, PO Box 178, Ludington, MI 49431