GLA Celebrates 75 Years: Looking Back – Focusing Ahead
2020 marked an incredibly important milestone for the Glen Lake Association (GLA) as it recognized 75 years. The GLA is proud and grateful for its journey of protection and preservation in a fast-changing society with growing challenges and opportunities.
It was 1945 when a group of property owners convened the first association meeting. The mission was to protect the amazingly pristine and delicate natural resource known as Glen Lake and the connecting environs.
Since then, there have been many notable events–naturally-occurring and man-made–that have impacted the nonprofit and charted a course to the present.
Special thanks go out to the 75th Planning Committee for their long hours researching history and planning the 75th anniversary year celebration. They include Lori Lyman–chair, Tricia Denton, Larry Faulman, Susie Haley, David and Susan Haughn, Sallyanne Morris, Ginny Rockwood, Pat Vredevoogd Combs, Dee Smith and Shelley Walter.
GLA Remembers …
1934 – National Geographic Magazine Article
1945 – The Creation of GLA
1945 – Lake Levels: Part One
1945 – Lake Levels: Part Two
1950’s – Fire-Fighting Sheds Erected
1954 – Court Orders Lake Levels Control & Monitoring
1950’s –The Rescue: Steamboat Shipwreck Mystery in Glen Lake
1950’s – Boat Launch Installed
1960’s – Beginnings of the National Park
1968 – GLA Communicates Through Newsletters
1969 – The Difficult Struggle Over the Park
1970’s – Study Cladophora
1980 – GLA Tackles Swimmer’s Itch
1980s – Monkeys on Glen Lake
1983 – Zebra Mussels Reported
1990’s – Glen Lake Watershed Established
1996 – Boat Wash Established
2007 – Association Wins State and National Awards
Historic Fish Cribs
2012 – Discovery Boat Sets Sail
2015 – Guardian Program Created
2015 – The Storm of 2015
2018 – Septic System Ordinances
2019 – Fun Facts
It was Ottawa and Chippewa Indians who were the first to live near Glen Lake, where they farmed, fished and hunted. Simply referred to as “Glen Lake” it is actually comprised of two large bodies of water, Big Glen Lake and Little Glen Lake. They are connected by the channel at the Narrows and today, M22 runs between them. The lakes empty into Lake Michigan via the Crystal River.
Hydrologically similar, both lakes have nearly the same water level. Big Glen’s surface area is 4,871 acres and reaches a depth of 130 feet, while Little Glen covers 1,415 acres and has a maximum depth of 13 feet. At one point in time, the lakes were the same depth, but sand from the Sleeping Bear Dunes slowly filled in Little Glen.
Fur traders showed up in the 1800s and shipping on the Great Lakes grew around that time as well. The first settler built a trading post near the mouth of the Crystal River in 1847.
One of the early settlers wives, Mrs. John Fisher, arrived in 1854 and liked the grape vine-covered trees so much that she named the community “Glen Arbor.”
John Dorsey, who also arrived in 1854, was the town cooper and made fish barrels. He owned 1,000 acres on the north side of Glen Lake. About ten years later, in 1864, W.D. Burdick built a sawmill and gristmill at what is now Burdickville.
In 1886, D.H. Day bought large tracts of land and built a productive sawmill on Glen Lake. He replanted trees he had cut, planted fruit trees and built a cannery in Glen Haven, tirelessly promoting the area. In 1867, Glen Arbor Township had a population of 200, three docks, two hotels, four stores, a blacksmith shop and the cooper shop. Gordon Earle built a shingle mill in 1890 and J.O. Nessen built a steam-powered lumber mill in 1899.
By the 1900s, tourism was taking off. A few resorts opened along the shores of Glen Lake and visitors — mostly from Chicago — would arrive in Glen Haven via steamship. Mothers and children would often stay the entire summer and men would come up for weekends. Glen Lake had two golf courses and an excursion boat that stopped at various resorts and cottages.
In 1901, a U.S. Life-Saving Station was established at Sleeping Bear Point and moved to Glen Haven in 1931. It is now the Maritime Museum at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which was created in 1971 and since been voted by the public as “The Most Beautiful Place in America.”
Currently celebrating 75 years in 2020, the GLA is committed to protecting the water quality of the Glens, which border the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, itself 50 years old!