Camp Lucy-Mac, Ludington State Park, Michigan: The Newspaper & Old Photos Post

There’s nothing that holds my attention like a good mystery, and for quite some time, the forgotten remains of isolated Camp Lucy Mac in Ludington State Park, Michigan, have been just that.  If you’ve not yet read this article, please follow the link below for the full tour of Camp Lucy Mac as she looks today:

https://thewaywardwanderlust.wordpress.com/2015/06/

But where there’s a will, there’s usually a way, and about a week ago, I finally got ahold of the newspaper articles that would provide me with the information–and even a few of the photos–I’ve been looking for.  Through these articles, I’ve been able to discover some information that was previously unknown and confirm a few of the rumors I’ve heard.

Here in chronological order are some of the more interesting articles, courtesy of the Ludington Daily News, pertaining to Camp Lucy Mac.

July 12, 1939:
July 12, 1939: This is one of the earliest articles I can find about Camp Lucy Mac.  This article makes reference to the location of the camp in relation to the CCC camp in LSP and also lists the camp staff for that year.
July 18, 1939:
July 18, 1939: One of the few photos associated with the articles pertaining to camp, this shows some of Lucy Mac’s earliest campers in what would be the 3rd season that the camp was open.
July 21, 1939:
July 21, 1939:  Not to be outdone, this article focuses on the women who ran Camp Lucy Mac in 1939.  Yet another rare photo of the people who once comprised Lucy Mac.
Close-up photo of July 21, 1939 photo.
Close-up photo of July 21, 1939 photo.
June 8, 1940:
June 8, 1940: This article is the first and only to mention that Camp Lucy Mac is a certified GS Camp.  It also is the first to reference the education that the camp’s instructors undergo.  Mrs. G. O. Kribs, who ran Lucy Mac for a good portion of the camp’s existence as a GS camp, is mentioned.
June 10, 1940:
June 10, 1940:  This article was my first evidence that Boy Scouts also used the camp and that Lucy Mac was not exclusively used by GS.
August 3, 1940:
August 3, 1940: Yet another article regarding Boy Scouts using Lucy Mac.
August 6, 1940:
August 6, 1940: Another article regarding Boy Scouts at Lucy-Mac, this one containing a list of items to bring.
August 17, 1940
August 17, 1940: Not only did Boy Scouts camp at Lucy Mac, they also had ceremonies that reportedly drew close to 300 visitors to this remote site.  In this day and age, nearly 300 people trekking out to a remote campsite for a ceremony without any motorized transportation option available would be outrageous!
June 21, 1941:
June 21, 1941:  This article mentions new buildings being dedicated at Lucy Mac, but does not say what buildings these are.  Given that 1941 was the first year any buildings were reportedly used at Lucy Mac (based on a 1944 article), this article is likely referring to the lodge, the laundry, the recreation building, and perhaps the unknown building northwest of the lodge.
July 8, 1941:
July 8, 1941: This article mentions some of the improvements made to the camp and again references the dedication of even more new–albeit unnamed–buildings.  Once again, based on the date, one can only presume that the buildings in question are the lodge, recreation building, the laundry, and the unknown building to the northwest.
July 24, 1941:
July 24, 1941: The Boy Scouts camp at Lucy Mac yet again. Note the cost of camping per week: $6 per scout!
March 11, 1942: This snippet of an article is by far one of the most interesting, alluding to three
March 11, 1942: This snippet of an article is by far one of the most interesting, alluding to three “moving pictures” that once existed of Camp Lucy-Mac. If you happen to know if these might still be in existence, please leave a comment below!
June 8, 1942:
June 8, 1942: An incredible find, this article goes through more improvements made to the camp, the staff, and even asks those girls and counselors in attendance to bring a specified amount of sugar for their stay–evidence of the cost of WWII.
June 8, 1942: Photo close up.
June 8, 1942: Photo close up.  This photo appears to have been taken with Hamlin Lake in the background and may have been taken near the remote fire pit location at the end of the peninsula (see previous post for the map!).
July 16, 1942: One of my jackpot moments, I believe this building,
July 16, 1942: One of my jackpot moments: I believe this is Bldg 1 from my previous post–the first building discovered upon my exploration of this site.  Note the fireplace, the shape of the building, and the windows overlooking the lagoon.  In the newspaper article, this building is called the recreational building / dining hall / kitchen.
July 16, 1942: Caption associated with above photo.
July 16, 1942: Caption associated with above photo and pieces of the associated article.
August 1, 1942:
August 1, 1942: A look back at health and wellness in the WWII era.
August 8, 1942:
August 8, 1942: This article details some of the day-to-day activities of campers as well as achievements.
October 2, 1942:
October 2, 1942:  Despite the trials of WWII, Camp Lucy Mac sees a boom in enrollment.  This article points out the benefits of camp for the girls who attend, citing relief of “wartime nerves” and teaching the valuable skills pertaining to civilian life in a time of war in addition to normal camp activities.
January 31, 1948:
January 31, 1948: A full 11 years after Lucy mac first opened, Mrs. G. O. Kribs remains the leader at Lucy Mac for Girl Scouts.
April 22, 1949:
April 22, 1949: Lucy Mac isn’t just a Scout camp anymore!  This article lists the numerous groups that are using Lucy Mac throughout the summer.
June 28, 1949:
June 28, 1949:  This article details more activities available at Lucy Mac for GS attendees, as well as local involvement in supporting this camp.
July 5, 1949: Lucy Mac experiences quite the boom in demand as numerous groups reserve the GS camp throughout the summer season.
July 5, 1949: Lucy Mac experiences quite the boom in demand as numerous groups reserve the GS camp throughout the summer season.
September 3, 1963:
September 3, 1963:  An article on the early history of scouting in Ludington, including a reference to Camp Lucy Mac’s opening date (July 11, 1937).

Camp Lucy Mac Bonus: The Lodge, The Rec Building, or Something Like It…

Since my first article on Camp Lucy Mac, I have struggled to clearly define which building at the camp was the lodge and which one was the recreation hall, opting simply to call the buildings Bldg 1 and Bldg 2 as I could not say with certainty which one was which.  Not necessarily assisting me in my quest to delineate between these two buildings are the newspaper articles that seem to confuse each building with each other for different reasons.  Before I go into detail on the reasoning behind this debate and for your reference, here’s a copy of the map from my previous article.

One of my presents to you--my artistic rendering of the general layout of Camp Lucy-Mac. Not to scale. Bldg 1: Likely the recreational building / dining hall / kitchen Bldg 2: Likely the lodge Bldg 3: Unknown. Reportedly a classroom/sleeping quarters, but this is unconfirmed by newspaper or historic source.
One of my presents to you–my artistic rendering of the general layout of Camp Lucy-Mac. Not to scale.
Bldg 1: Up for debate!
Bldg 2: Also up for debate!
Bldg 3: Unknown. Reportedly a classroom/sleeping quarters, but this is unconfirmed by newspaper or historic source.

So, here we go: why I was so darn confused about the buildings of Camp Lucy Mac!

Case 1: Bldg 1 is the Lodge, Bldg 2 is the Rec Hall / Kitchen / Dining Hall.

Evidence for Case 1: The June 22, 1944 article clearly describes the lodge as being at the end of a lagoon with a “great view of the lake”.  This readily describes Bldg 1 and not Bldg 2, which does not border any water.  Notably, this section of the article doesn’t mention a recreational building at all.

Less on the scientific and more on the intuition side of things, Bldg 1 struck me initially as the lodge, not Bldg 2, which was less scenic and seemed more like a general purpose building.  But hey, they’re foundations.  What do I know.

Case 2: Bldg 1 is the Rec Hall / Kitchen / Dining Hall, Bldg 2 is the Lodge.

Evidence for Case 2: Just when you think you have everything all figured out, a newspaper article gums up the works!  A July 16, 1942 article, which includes a photo of what (structurally speaking) almost has to be Bldg 1, specifically refers to this structure as the Rec Hall / Kitchen / Dining Hall.

Per the photograph in the article, the building is in an L-shape; the only L-shaped foundations found at Lucy Mac were those of Bldg 1.  This clearly does not describe Bldg 2.  The building was described as having a kitchen and a stone fireplace, which have both survived in varying degrees to this day as the fireplace is still visible and the tile in the end of Bldg 1 appear to be from a kitchen.  Structurally speaking, Bldg 2 has nothing to suggest that it ever contained a kitchen or a stone fireplace…or at least, it has nothing remaining!

Case 3: Bldg 1 is all of the above and Bldg 2 is something completely different.

Y’know, sometimes it just happens: buildings undergo structural and/or functional changes, and are known by various names at different times, sometimes going by two names interchangeably.  I believe this is almost certainly the case in this little saga as in one instance, the June 22, 1944 article actually refers to the recreation hall and the dining hall / kitchen / stone fireplace as being the same building: “The rustic recreation building served as a dining hall and kitchen and the stone fireplace was used for campfire when rain prevented the use of outdoor campfire”.  Interestingly, this section of the article doesn’t even mention a lodge.

As a teasing additional tidbit, a June 21, 1941 article describes a dedication ceremony that took place in the “main lodge”, suggesting that there may have actually been two buildings that served as lodges at one point in time.

Now, while the information presented in Case #3 doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibilities of either Case #1 or Case #2 being correct, it does seem to confirm that the same building is being described in two separate parts of the same article and is apparently known by two names.  This is the most likely answer and (for the moment) the best conclusion I can offer to my lingering constructional conundrum at Camp Lucy Mac.

Fast Backward: Camp Lucy-Mac, Ludington State Park, Michigan

Here’s a question for you: what do you do when someone tells you about a 1950’s-era Scout camp, the remnants of which lie abandoned in an isolated woods within the confines of a popular state park?  You go find it, of course!

It was a cloudy day and a long trek to reach the location that was reportedly the site of a summer camp back in the post-WWII era.  So take a visit to back when times were a little simpler and the forest was just a wee bit thinner.

IF YOU VISITED this page before 11/10/15, it might benefit you to give it another read!  Based on further information discovered, this article has been heavily edited.

PLEASE NOTE: for the sake of privacy, the folks who accompanied me on this visit have been removed from the photos.  As I am not photo shop-savvy, I have simply cut them out of the pics and filled in the area remaining with a solid color.  I apologize for the lack of aesthetics in this post, but do try to look past the glaring edits to see the beauty of nature reclaiming this old campground.

First view of the camp was from a sandy, central-feeling area that is surrounded on one side by a wooded embankment. Two sets of steps lie to the right and left. We took the steps to the right (to the right in the photo).
First view of the camp was from a sandy, central-feeling area that is surrounded on one side by a wooded embankment. Two sets of steps lie to the right and left. We took the steps to the right (to the right in the photo).
View of the second set of steps from the sandy area.
View of the second set of steps from the sandy area.  It was apparent from looking around that this area used to be completely cleared of all trees, except perhaps the big ones growing at the embankment’s edge.
Walking into what was once the lodge. The area to the left reveals a fireplace. The area to the right appears to have been a kitchen with tiling still visible in the decaying floor.
Walking into Bldg 1, which I now believe was once the recreational building / dining hall / kitchen / lodge. The area to the left reveals a fireplace. The area to the right appears to have been a kitchen with tiling still visible in the decaying floor.
Firepit in the lodge.
Fireplace in Bldg 1.
Standing in the lodge kitchen, with some of the tiling still visible.
Standing in Bldg 1’s kitchen, with some of the tiling still visible.  Piping is still visible around the walls of the foundation.
Back edge of the kitchen in the lodge.
Fireplace in Bldg 1.
Looking down the steps we had walked up into what was once a sandy clearing.
Looking down the steps we had walked up into what was once a sandy clearing.
Looking from the lodge area over to the second set of steps.
Looking from Bldg 1 area over to the second set of steps.
A possible firepit location as the trees were certainly not accidentally fallen in this configuration.
A possible firepit location as the trees were certainly not accidentally fallen in this configuration.
What appears to have been a long, rectangular building that, at best guess, may have been either a bunk house or a recreation building with our money on the latter.
Slightly west of Bldg 1, we stumbled across the ruins of Bldg 2. Bldg 2 appears to have been a long, rectangular building and does not appear to have any piping (unlike Bldg 1).
Bunk house / rec building.
Bldg 2.
What looks like a bathhouse with stalls, water hook-ups and a central drainage area still visible.
Bathhouse/laundry: north of Bldg 2, we came across what looks like a bathhouse with stalls, water hook-ups and a central drainage area still visible.
Bathhouse.
Bathhouse/laundry.
Behind the bathhouse lies another foundation in the woods, this one set back a bit from the main camp. Counselor's quarters? The camp nurse? We can only offer guesses at this point.
Bldg 3: Northeast of the the bathhouse lies another foundation in the woods, this one set back a bit from the main camp. Counselors’ quarters? The camp nurse? We can only offer guesses at this point.
Closer photo of unknown building.
Closer photo of Bldg 3.
Walking down a faint trail in the woods, we came to the end of a point. This is the view from the end.
Walking down a faintly visible trail in the woods, we came to a point of land looking out at Hamlin Lake.  It was then that one of my fellow explorers with a keen eye noticed old tin cans submerged under the water at the tip of the point and the remnants of an old dock, its boards and pilings still somewhat visible underwater.
At the end of the point, we found a lot of large rocks like the ones above. Charred areas of ground also suggest a possible remote campfire location.
At the end of the point, we found a lot of large rocks like the ones above. Charred areas of ground also suggest a possible remote campfire location.
Back at camp between the lodge and the rec building, we found this interesting piece of stonework. A campfire? No, alas--a well. Nay, two wells!
Back at camp between Bldg 1 and Bldg 2, we found this interesting piece of stonework. A campfire? No, alas–a well. Nay, two wells!
Second well.
Second well.
The northern edge of the lodge where a stone embankment separates the land from the lagoon water.
The northern edge of Bldg 1, where a stone embankment separates the land from the lagoon water.
Another view of the lodge area, presumed to be the kitchen.
Another view of Bldg 1, presumed to be the kitchen.
Heading back into the sandy clearing.
Heading back into the sandy clearing.
Walking the ledge trail back to Lake Hamlin.
Walking the ledge trail back to Hamlin Lake.
Ducking back to the sandy trail along Lake Hamlin, headed for the dam.
Ducking back to the sandy trail along Hamlin Lake, headed for the dam.
One of my presents to you--my artistic rendering of the general layout of Camp Lucy-Mac. Not to scale. Bldg 1: Likely the recreational building / dining hall / kitchen Bldg 2: Likely the lodge Bldg 3: Unknown. Reportedly a classroom/sleeping quarters, but this is unconfirmed by newspaper or historic source.
One of my presents to you–my artistic rendering of the general layout of Camp Lucy-Mac. Not to scale.
Bldg 1: Likely the recreational building / dining hall / kitchen / the Lodge.
Bldg 2: Use unknown.
Bldg 3: Use unknown. Reportedly a classroom/sleeping quarters, but this is unconfirmed by newspaper.
A Google Maps view of two possible sites where I believe Lucy-Mac was potentially located. Hamlin Lake is an inland lake that connects to Lake Michigan via the Big Sable River. Note the dam in the photo above wasn't always located where it stands today.
A Google Maps view of two possible sites where I believe Lucy-Mac was potentially located.  When Lucy Mac was in operation, a CCC camp stood in the Hamlin Beach area directly across from the Girl Scout camp peninsula.
Hamlin Lake is an inland lake that connects to Lake Michigan via the Big Sable River. Note the dam in the photo above wasn’t always located where it stands today.

And now, the history…

As you might imagine, a find like this left me itching for answers.  While my source knew the approximate location of the abandoned ruins of the above camp, my source wasn’t sure what years the camp operated, what it was called, or if it was a Boy Scout camp versus a Girl Scout camp.  Upon returning home and to internet coverage, I began my search immediately.

Surprisingly, information about this particular location was hardly forthcoming.  Several hours of searching left me thinking I’d never get to the bottom of this one until a name popped up in an old newspaper clipping from 1941: Camp Lucy-Mac.

Upon reading the article, I realized I had found what I was looking for.  I found yet another newspaper article, this one from 1944, which gave me the lowdown of this little-known campground.

Back in 1932, the Girl Scouts (GS) took over a Boy Scout camp at Canfield Lake, which is just north of Ludington near a town called Manistee.  It was renamed Camp Michawa.  This worked out well for a few years until this small inland lake dried up to the point where it no longer supported water activities, and the GS folks moved across the lake to Wisconsin to Camp Sinawa in 1936.  But the Michigan GS troops wouldn’t find themselves traveling across Lake Michigan to attend camp for long.

In the early months of 1937, a lady named Lucy McCarthy was watching her efforts to create a GS camp in Ludington State Park (LSP) take root.  Having organized the meetings between the Michigan Conservation representatives and the GS leaders, the site for a GS camp within LSP was approved on a 6-degree March day.  From that point on, construction and reorganization began.

Mrs. McCarthy organized local men from Ludington to come out and cut down trees, clear out poison ivy, and make the area generally inhabitable for excited Girl Scouts and their counselors.  She also orchestrated the transfer of items from Camps Sinawa and Michawa to the new site, bringing over everything from tents to tent floors to latrines and an outdoor stove to Lucy-Mac via Lake Michigan.

On July 11, 1937, Camp Lucy-Mac opened and was named in honor of the lady who had worked so hard to start it.  According to the Ludington Daily News, Mrs. Jennie Lind was the director, and the camp, though humble, was off to an auspicious start.  By way of activities, Lucy-Mac boasted outdoor cooking classes, swimming, boating, hiking, overnight trips, handicraft, and an opportunity to work on scout badges.

That isn’t to say the budding camp wasn’t without its problems.  In its first year, there were no permanent buildings–only tents.  The Girl Scouts who attended that year named the main dining tent “the sieve” due to the amount of water that poured in through its holey roof during rain showers.  The outdoor stove was the only location where food could be cooked in the entire camp, and so all food was cooked outdoors–rain or shine.  The wells that were sunk on the day that the camp opened were soon shown to have bad water, so all water was brought to Lucy-Mac from the CCC Ludington-Pere Marquette camp from across Hamlin Lake in large milk cans.  To boot, it seems that the men Mrs. McCarthy had recruited to pull poison ivy were not as thorough as they ought to have been as the paper reports that this first year, most of the staff got poison ivy so badly that nearly each of them had to go home at some point to recover.

In later years, permanent buildings would be added, starting in 1938 with a screened-in kitchen.  The outdoor stove became an incinerator and a convenient location to make popcorn at night.  By 1941, the State Park would add a bathhouse, laundry, a lodge, and recreation building.

According to a newspaper article from June 22, 1944 (which is the main source for this article), the lodge building, which is likely referencing Bldg 1 in this particular case, was described as being at the end of a lagoon with a great view of the lake. (For further info on why this has been a point of contention in my research, please scroll down for a link to the next article pertaining to Lucy Mac!)

Behind (south of) the lodge, there was the sandy playground–surely the clearing we came upon on the way to the camp–which was used for making tin can breakfasts, playing baseball, and hosting nightly campfires and evening dramas put on by the campers.  The girls’ tents were set up around the lodge and swimming area.  And finally, Pirate Island, which was just north of Lucy-Mac, was nearby enough to host camp-outs and tin can cookouts (remember those tin cans one of my companions had noticed in the water?).

While I was able to discover its opening date, I have not yet discovered when or why Camp Lucy-Mac was closed or what led to it being demolished to its foundations.  If any of you happen to know the history behind this curious camp, please leave a comment below!

EDIT 11/10/15: I have recently gained access to the aforementioned newspaper clippings that reveal more information and also contain some photos of this camp.  The article containing this info is now live!  For your convenience, please follow the link below:

https://thewaywardwanderlust.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/camp-lucy-mac-ludington-state-park-michigan-the-newspaper-old-photos-post/

Sources

Main newspaper article referenced in this post: Ludington Daily News, June 22, 1944
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=110&dat=19440622&id=HWlOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=rTwDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6843,6701702&hl=en

Ludington Daily News, July 14, 1944
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=110&dat=19440714&id=8ZkJAAAAIBAJ&sjid=t0IDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4247,461187&hl=en

Newspaper snippets about Camp Lucy-Mac:
http://www.vintagegirlscout.com/campMI.html

Ludington Daily News, August 6, 1940
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=110&dat=19400806&id=A6taAAAAIBAJ&sjid=T08DAAAAIBAJ&pg=4917,1397788&hl=en

Ludington Daily News, August 16, 1949
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=110&dat=19490816&id=z49OAAAAIBAJ&sjid=p0IDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6934,5187467&hl=en

Ludington Daily News, September 3, 1964
http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/9163497/