Some day Howard will get around to writing about “lake culture” that developed at Sturm und Drang in the late 19th century. Until then, I’m gathering images to build the character of the place: shoreline views like this one, boat docks, the resorts themselves, and other attendant structures predating the 1950s. If you have some to offer, or know of stories describing lazy summer weekends or (my favorite) those other seasons when no one was around, please share. Until then, I’ll continue to outline the story Howard will eventually tell us. In the meantime….
Sturm & Drang
Spring fed, yet there is so much anger beneath its surface that Sturm und Drang is reluctant to freeze.
Long before Europeans saw the Muskrat Valley, abundant hunting and fishing made Sturm und Drang — folks hereabouts are inclined to refer to the linked lakes as “it” — a watering hole and campsite for the indigenous people, possibly even before the Sac & Fox were here. Our own settlers used Sturm und Drang that way, as a dietary supplement, before the railroad improved both the quantity and the quality of food. But when was it recognized as a place of recreation? How did the earliest White settlers “recreate”? Would they have understood the word as we do?
By the 1870s, S&D yielded ice for refrigeration — the old ice house has become a cabin near the Station-Store (de facto city hall for the dispersed community called “Resort”) — and by the 1880s other purpose-built cabins gathered along the eastern and southern shores. Clusters of those became resorts, and by 1890 Smith’s Hotel opened to guests. The Store — more evidence of our penchant to identify things with a single, generic, capitalized name — became the sourse of supply for basic foodstuffs, bread baked by the proprietor Edith Prikleigh, and whole milk from a nearby farm; produce varied with the season. Edith served as postmaster (she disliked the feminized version, postmistress) and by 1900 her son Ivor delivered mail by motorboat. When the interurban branch came in 1910, Ivor piloted a water taxi coördinated with arrival and departure of the trolley.
If you thought a weekend at the lake exempted you from church attendance, think again: a rotation of pastors (Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, and Roman) served a union chapel converted from a chicken coop, which came to be called Saint Ferreolus. With its school-bell call to Sunday service the Edwardian palette of lake life was set through the 1920s. And after WWII that rhythm was preserved by The Association (of lake property owners) who regulated lake life with one simple provision: a speed limit on boat traffic of 10 m.p.h. No water skiing or other aquatic hijinx here, thank you, very much. This remains a place where the front porch is “the Green room” and bourbon or beer the beverages of choice; where the only cable is a stitch used to knit; and all calls are on hold.