Return to: 2005

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North Bayou History

Judy Mohan, North Bayou,2005

 North Bayou, with its intricate labyrinth of stumps and submerged logs, offers homeowners there a quiet wooded nook of natural beauty.  The stumps, remnants of the lake’s logging era, serve as guardian of the bayou and all that is in it – keeping power boats at bay and giving nature free reign.  In the secluded bayou, turtles use the stumps for sunning platforms, fish hide beneath them and otters play around them.

 As nature lovers discovered the bayou’s beauty, homes began to dot the shoreline, and now only a small parcel on the bayou’s back northeast shore remains underdeveloped.  Owned by the Maclean family, developers of Partridge Pointe, these 275 wooded acres have been set aside as a nature preserve and continue to provide a home for the wildlife that share North Bayou with the homeowners. 

  Nelson Cottage

In the 1930’s no roads bordered the bayou.  On the north shore, a two-track lane through the woods led to the Lilley home built by local building contractor Oscar Nelson. 

 On the south shore, Lakeshore Drive from town ended at the bayou mouth.  North Bayou Resort and a couple of cottages were clustered there – and then, solid woods.  Oblivious to property lines, contractor Oscar Nelson cut his way through those woods, zigzagging between the larger trees, to construct a winding two –track lane three-tenths of a mile to the property he had chosen for his family’s cabin on the south shore of the bayou.  The site offered a spectacular view through the bayou to the golden sand dunes across the lake.  His two-room cabin had a small living room barely wider than the fireplace on one wall and a kitchen with an icebox and kerosene cooking stove.  An outside pump supplied the water.  Kerosene lamps gave evening light and an outhouse behind the cottage took care of necessities.

 In the early 1940’s when Oscar decided to buy additional lots, he discovered that the lot he owned was actually next to the lot on which he had built.  He hastily purchased the lot on which the cottage stood and in subsequent years purchased other adjoining lots.  As the Nelson family grew in numbers, the little white framed cottage grew as well, providing indoor plumbing and additional sleeping space.  Presently owned by Oscar’s daughter Lillian and her husband, Earl Barton, the cottage continues to be the gathering place for several generations fo the Nelson family.

 Munson-Mohan Cottage

The house just west of the Nelson cottage, built in 1979, had the distinction of being featured that year in the Chicago Tribune by writer and owner Judy Munson-Mohan (Oscar’s granddaughter), who had written a two-part feature article for the newspaper on purchasing out-of-state property and building a vacation home.  That home has since been renovated and enlarged.

You can read about history of the North Bayou here.

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