Return to: 1912

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History of the Dams

Hamlin Lake is a 4,990 acre lake with a thirty two mile shore line.  The lake was known to the Indians as Lake Netongebis and to the early settlers as Lake Sauble.  Charles Mears changed the name to Hamlin Lake when Hannibal Hamlin (August 27, 1809– July 4, 1891) was elected Vice-president (1861-1865) on the Republican ticket along with President Abraham Lincoln.

In 1860 Mears built a dam on the AuSauble River so that he could float the logs that were being cut.  The dam more than doubled the size of the lake resulting in the formation of many bayous. 

The first dam lasted twenty eight years and it went out in 1888, washing out the town of Hamlin.  A second dam was constructed which lasted for 24 years.  By this time cottages, hotels and resorts had been built along the shoreline of Hamlin Lake.  When the second dam went out in 1912, Hamlin Lake had become famous for great fishing and impressive resort hotels and cottages.  

Our current dam was built in 1912.  The Incorporated Dam Association was formed to support the dam and to control water depth and protect resort property.  In 1935 the state of Michigan and the US government took over the dam. 

When this dam was completed, it increased the size of the lake, especially in the bayous.  In Indian Pete Bayou, for example, property that had been privately owned was underwater.  This causes a lot of confusion for people now as they try to buy or sell their property and find that some of what they own according to early surveys is under water.


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