A Dam Factoid

Through the years, many at Clark Lake have speculated about the origin of the dam on Ocean Beach Road.  And no wonder.  Not only is the dam a Clark Lake icon, but it performs the important function of keeping the lake level where it is.

Phil Riley, Jr., on the dock of his North Shore home

Because of the Dam Strong project to fortify the dam’s infrastructure, the dam is receiving more attention than ever.  But the question remains, when was the dam built and who built it?  Given the history of Clark Lake, it is probable that the current structure is not the original.  And here’s where new information contributes to solving the mystery.  Dr. Phil Riley, whose family came to Clark Lake in 1937, recalls learning about the dam from his father.  Philip Riley Sr. once told Phil Jr. the current (or predecessor to current) dam was built in about 1934 by a man named Morehouse–and that he was never paid for the project.  The photo below, from Nancy Ewing Ashton, shows the dam circa 1943.

The Morehouse name at Clark Lake may be familiar to some.  According to Phil, Morehouse’s cottage was in South Woodlands.  The name may also be familiar because of their manufacturing concern which was located in Jackson–Watts Morehouse.  The company manufactured Watts Morehouse Steelwood Touring Car trunks that could be attached to and detached from your automobile and thus serve as a piece of luggage.  They were popular during the 1920’s and 30’s.

Several attempts have been made to learn more about the history of the dam.  This factoid adds to the quest.  

Oktoberfest Nears at Clark Lake

The Clark Lake Community Center has a new venue for the Harvest Moon Party.

The party’s new location is the Clark Lake Yacht Club.  Once known as the Hayes cottage, this historic building has served as the Yacht Club for many years.  You can feel the tradition as you enter  the great room.

The event starts at 5:30 pm on Saturday, October 14.  As the Oktoberfest theme suggests, German fare is on the menu–authentic wurst and chicken schnitzel, potato salad, a variety of cheeses, pretzels and dessert.  BYOB.

The Persuaders will entertain.  The band is from Clark Lake, so they ought to know the genre that Clark Lakers enjoy.

For those interested in showing their flair for connecting to the theme, the Community Center promises a $100 prize for best costume.  Plus don’t miss the 50/50 drawing.

If that isn’t enough, you may want to do some shopping.  Included in items for bid is an 18-foot Hobie, once sailed competitively by Lynn Vermeulen (sail number 15003).

For your tickets ($50 each), mail a check to PO Box 132, Clarklake, MI 49234.  More info, contact John Deming at 529-9117 or John Karkheck at 745-2929, email jcdcl@comcast.net.  

Clark Lake’s Awesome Moon

After a turbulent afternoon storm, weather cleared on Labor Day Monday.  Karen Menard, and others here at the lake, saw a version of the moon not often witnessed.  At about 2 am, Karen took these photos of the moon in the sky over Clark Lake.  Karen comments “the moon was orange due to the wildfires out west–smoke rising into the atmosphere and the wind taking it across the U.S.”


Clark Lake Generations

The connection to Clark Lake is often measured not only in years, but generations.  You don’t have to look far to see neighbors who are related or linked together by marriage and lifetime friendships.  Clark Lake is famous for summer romances that continue into winter and bloom in weddings.

This weekend marked one of those Clark Lake connections. BJ Lyons and Sally (Ligibel) Dandar spent summers with their families in cottages next door to each other.  Through the years, the families always remarked, even joked, “wouldn’t it be something if Sally and B.J. would someday marry?”  They took their vows on Eagle Point on July 20, 2013. 

Fast forward to this spring when their first child arrived, a girl.  Today many members of the two families gathered to participate in Blake’s blessing, performed by Sally’s uncle, Ted Ligibel.

To get an idea how families at the lake expand around the shorelines, take a look at this family tree.  It starts with the first Clark Lake generation until it reaches Blake, the sixth generation.

The amazing element to this story is that it’s replicated all over the lake.  If you decided to chart the families at the lake, you would need a piece of paper that covered a wall.


Dam Strong Means Strong Dam

Clark Lakers can feel very grateful for the outpouring of support to repair the dam at Ocean Beach.  Generous contributions will make possible reconstruction efforts, now scheduled for October.  Leaks on the south side of the dam threaten its integrity.  An epic fail of the dam could cause the lake level to drop 2 and a half feet or more.  With funds now in place, repair work will go forward.   

Please take 5 minutes to view this video of people at Clark Lake you may know.

Brush, old tree trunks, and a dying tree surround the dam. When roots extend into the dam’s infrastructure and then rot, water seeps in.  Repeated freezing and thaws exacerbate damage.  All of that will be corrected during the construction project.  In addition, the clean up activity will lift appearances.  Mike McKay is financing landscaping around the dam.  There will be four Spirit Trail benches for walkers, runners, cyclists, or those just wanting to take in the beauty of the lake.  Those four benches are also being placed through donations to the Dam Strong Fund and Spirit Trail.

To make a donation, please click  here.

Those making contributions to the Dam Strong Fund can know they truly made a difference.  Below is the Dam Strong Honor Roll, which will also have its own page on this website, on a continuing basis.  Dam Dots indicate level of giving.

$100 – One Dam Dot
$250 – Two Dam Dots  • •
$500 – Three Dam Dots  • • •
$800 – Four Dam Dots • • • •
$1000 or more – Five Dam Dots • • • • •


Grant & Annie Brown • • • • •
Clarklake Beach & Boat Club • • • • •
Paul & Diane Kenyon • • • • •
Family of Ralph Mahalak • • • • •
Mike & Teresa McKay • • • • •
Tom & Kelly Petitto • • • • •
Leutz/Shawaker • • • • •
Joe & Kathleen Thorrez • • • • •
Mick & Betsy Thorrez • • • • •
Fritz & Karen Wilger Family • • • • •
Rick Belcher • • • • •
Travis & Armida Pearse • • • •
Tucker and Tricia Boyers • • •
Iris Detter • • •
Steve & Margie Harris • • •
Mark Herman • • •
Miles & Brenda Jones • • •
Ted & Donna Ludlow • • •
Bill & Ann Searles • • •
Lynn & Patrice Vermeulen • • •
David & Sue Ann Woodsum • • •
John & Diane Deming • •
Bob & Laurie LaZebnik • •
Philip Riley, Jr., M.D.  • •
Richard & Carol Toth • •
Clark Lake Yacht Club • •
Timberlake’s Windward Cottage • •
Ernie & Pat Beffel •
Anne Bensch •
Jack Burns •
Peggy Collins •
Anita Cummings & Jerry Shaughnessy •
Frank & Josie Hones •
Ron & Beth June •
John & Dotty Karkheck •
Greg Kerr •
Mike & Nancy Ligibel •
BJ & Sally Lyons •
Michael & Pamela Melton •
John & Kim Miller •
Richard & Lois Moyer •
Wilma Nichols •
Alan & Gale Pohutski •
Kevin & Lucia Thomson •
Andrew & Candace Willbee •
Carolyn Zader •

Thank You !!

Recently Andy & Candy Willbee and Kent & Marcia Ford, sponsored their 5th Annual Summer Party at Ford Field.  Thanks to these two couples, and those who attended, $1,900 was added to the Dam Strong Fund. 

There were many other friends and neighbors who came together to support Dam Strong, including Rob Thomas, Walt & Jean Shuberg, Angel & Jim Dandar, Clarice Kaltinick, Tony Sconochia II, and Daniel & Janice Smith. 




Welcome, Brooklyn Plumbing,Heating and Air Conditioning

Brooklyn Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, at the corner of Hyde and Jefferson, is a familiar Clark Lake landmark.  As part of their outreach to our community they are a new sponsor of this website.  Partner Chad Hagerty says “we believe in supporting the community, and this is one way we can express our appreciation to the people who have made us feel welcome here.” 

The well-known building is headquarters for both parts of the business–plumbing, and heating and air conditioning.  Chad Hagerty leads plumbing; and Kurt Causie, heating and air conditioning. This year marks the firm’s 30th anniversary.  Chad explains “my father, Bill Hagerty, established the company in 1987.  And yes, it was actually located in Brooklyn.”  But not for long.  Almost immediately, more space was needed and they found it at their current Clark Lake location. 

Kurt Causie & Chad Hagerty

How has this local company thrived for these 30 years?  “It’s all about pleasing the customer” says Kurt Causie.  He stresses the importance of communication.  “When someone wants to talk about a prospective job, or work we’ve already done, we’re quick to respond.  Yes, we have 24-hour emergency service and arrive when we say we will, but good communication is a difference maker.  We make it a priority.”

Those who don’t own or run a business may not be aware of how things can look from inside. Kurt reveals what he and Chad have learned. “The economy is cyclical.  The 1990s were boom years, then came the great recession, and you have to double down.”  When a local business makes it through rough times and comes out stronger than before, it’s a testament of what they are made of. Chad and Kurt know what goes into it–hard work, quality service, and follow through.  Kurt comments “we sometimes beat competitors by half because of the way our charges are structured.”  Chad adds “repeat business comes from treating customers fairly.”

Kurt says each day is a new adventure working with everyone here. “Many people at the lake are from somewhere else.  I’ve had someone here ask us to do work on their home in Detroit.  Even with the travel, we were able to beat Detroit pricing.”

Many have reacted to the new look of their building. Chad recalls “about 5 years ago, we wanted to put a face on the building that reflected the good feedback we get from customers.”  It worked.  “People stopped in for no other reason than to tell us how much they liked the renovation.” 

Brooklyn Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning covers a lot of ground.  They serve homeowners needing repairs, perform custom installations in remodels or new homes, and are involved in commercial work. They have 21 employees, with a mobile team who are qualified and licensed.

To learn more about Brooklyn, Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, please click the ad to the right.  And if you get a chance, please thank them for being part of the Clark Lake Spirit website!

Raft-O-Rama Calendar for 2018

2018 is sneaking up on us.  You can be prepared if you have the all new Raft-O-Rama calendar. 

The calendar features photos of this year’s R-O-R winners (not delayed a year, as in the past).  Look for photos of not only the rafts, but also for the overall adult and youth rafts, the people who made it happen.  Included are photos of all entries.   The calendar spotlights the 2017 grand marshall/2016 Mary Reynolds Spirit award winner, Bill Bendele.  You’ll also see the newly crowned winner, Peggy Collins. 


Karen Menard, who produces the calendar, says there are some fun and unusual holiday dates added.  When you visit Doyle’s to purchase one, you’ll notice a new lower, customer-friendly price–$8.00.

A Dramatic Arrival

It was dramatic.  Twenty-seven Harley’s, in single-line formation, rode down the Eagle Point hill, from Jefferson Road.  Their destination?  The Pointe Bar and Grill for a Sunday lunch. 

Several from this friendly group commented on the beauty of Clark Lake.  One of the riders was familiar with the underwater yacht club at the head-of-the-lake.  He had taken diving instruction here.

The riders traveled about 55 miles from Brighton to get to Clark Lake, and call themselves Brighton’s Crossroads Chapter.

Eclipse Adventure

As reported on this website, Clark Lake gathered on shore and on rafts to view Monday’s solar eclipse.  The moon covered 85% of the sun at 2:25 pm.  With safety glasses or empty Rice Krispie boxes, viewers got to see it.  But not all Clark Lakers were satisfied with the prospect of the 15% sliver of sun that would still show through, especially if your life has been all about science. Dick and Lois Moyer, who live on the North Shore, boarded a plane for South Carolina where they met up with one of Dick’s former students.  Following in Dick’s footsteps, Dr. Mary Starr had also become  science educator.  They had planned this eclipse excursion since January with all the details covered, except one they had no control over–the weather. 

Dick explains. 

“Monday morning dawned with heavy rain and iffy spirits.  The skies cleared a bit after 11 am and we began to think we might have a chance.  We headed for the beach around noon with a streamed playlist of moon/sun music, custom T-shirts, our glasses, and beach chairs.  The moon was scheduled to start covering the sun around 1:20 with totality coming at 2:47 pm.  It was sunny but a bank of clouds lurked over the ocean and appeared to head piece by piece in our direction.  We watched as the sun’s disc became smaller and smaller and enjoyed the cooler temperatures as it dropped from the mid 90s.  Around 2:40 the sun became invisible to us behind heavy clouds but we saw a little break off to the east.  Would the timing be right?  It was.  We were able to view the totality—applause and cheers could be heard up and down the beach.  It was truly an indescribable experience.  We took off the glasses for that minute, under the darkened sky.  We were indeed lucky–by 3 pm the clouds moved in for the rest of the day. 

Meanwhile, at Clark Lake…







Dam Strong for Clark Lake – the Story Continues

The Clark Lake community is rallying around the Dam Strong project.  In this video, learn how leaks to the dam at Ocean Beach threaten its integrity, and the consequences of not rising to the challenge.

To learn how you can help, please click here.