Wolf Lake Before the Center Dam


Sometimes, historical gems are found in unexpected places.

At least one earlier version of the Center dam was constructed before the present concrete dam in 1911. The figure below (credit to JDL) shows a wooden dam that was likely the dam preceding the current concrete one, also shown.
It is widely assumed that the 1911 dam backed up the water all the way to Little Wolf Lake and is partially responsible for making Wolf the fine sporting lake it is. But how deep was Wolf Lake before the dam?

The only known pre-dam picture of Wolf Lake surface structure first appeared in 1903 as part of a Cit-Pat advertisement (6/5/03) for building sites along the North Shore! A clearer version is found in a book "Jackson and Vicinity", (circa 1912) ; an annotated version of the latter is shown below. It was taken looking west from the new Casino along the North Shore.


Remnants of the two "sandbars" shown survive today as underwater hazards to motorized lake travel. The tree indicates the land protrusion was likely a permanent part of the lake surface structure, and likely above-water a majority of the time. The picture, then, represents a typical and not a low-water condition as might have been possible before the Center dam controlled water level.

But does this picture really answer the question of how high water was raised by the Center dam? It is still possible that, once that water level increased above the land extension, further increases (and erosion) would mask the true rise. But it is interesting to view the lake as did the residents of the early 1900's!