From the 2023 Summer Newsletter  By Walt Hessler
  with contributions from Shelly Lukemeyer of Lake Wawasee

I am Loon Lake

I am Loon Lake. I was created over 14,000 years ago as the glaciers retreated to the north and their massive weight changed the landscape. I was perfect and my waters were pure and alive. I became home to a variety of small macrophytes, fish, amphibious creatures, and numerous waterfowl. I was fortunate to have buffers of wetlands and forests around me protecting and filtering my waters. These areas were home to saber-tooth cats, wolves, beavers, moose, bison, and mastodons.

Eventually my waters were used by Indigenous Tribes who fished my waters and hunted in the rich surrounding areas. Over time settlers came into the area. Eventually the landscape around my waters was changed again as the settlers cleared some of the land to grow crops.

I am Loon Lake and in the late the1800’s I experienced a major change to my 700 acres of water. Man intervened and my water and wetlands were reduced to 400 acres. In the 1940’s my waters were reduced to 222 acres. Despite these major changes I remained a heathy vibrant lake.

The late 1800’s also brought with it a resort on the south end of my waters. This brought more people in to enjoy my natural beauty. They even danced on the water using a barge to take the dancers around the lake. I loved to hear their music!

In the late 1920’s I saw even more development with more cottages build on my shorelines and more people using the lake. In 1943 a store was built on my south shoreline and eventually included a gas station and a bar. I was excited to see all these people using my waters. However, I did not envision the problems this development would bring.

I am Loon Lake, and I was diagnosed to be ‘dying’ in the early 1990’s! My very poor health was a result of the sewage from all the development on the lake and from the sediment and the high phosphorus levels from the surrounding farm fields. I was very concerned that I would not be able to continue to provide a safe place for those who loved my waters and all the creatures I love that I provide a home for.

I am fortunate that there are people who cared enough to help me get better. In the late 1990’s a retention pond was constructed to reduce the amount of very harmful sediment that contaminated my water and made me sick. The farms around me started using conservation practices that greatly reduced the impact from their agricultural fields. A sewer system was put in on the lake in 2001 that virtually eliminated sewage contamination. A foundation was created to help protect my waters and many others around me.

I am Loon Lake and I have seen and endured many changes since I was created over 14,000 years ago. Today I am healthy! However, I still have many threats to my waters from invasive aquatic plants, invasive waterfowl, and contamination from the waters that flow into my lake waters.

I am optimistic about my future as I know there are those individuals and a foundation that are my caretakers. I hope there will be others that will be caretakers in the future. This is the only way I can be sure my waters will stay clean for future generations. Maybe for another 14,000 years?

I am Loon Lake.


January 17th 2022  By Walt Hessler

Loon Lake’s Water – Where It Comes From/Where It Goes

Loon Lake is in the upper portion of the Tippecanoe River Watershed.  We are a vital member of the Tippecanoe Watershed, and we are considered part of the headwaters of the Tippecanoe River.  The following is a simplified description of where our water comes from and where it ultimately goes. 

There are three main inlets supplying water to Loon Lake.  The Friskney Ditch brings water in near the public access site on the south side of the lake.  This ditch starts out and travels through the farmland south and east of Loon Lake. The water traveling through this ditch goes through a retention pond created by the Loon Lake Property Owners Association (LLPOA) back in the 1990s.   The retention pond is designed to filter out some of the sediment that comes from the farm fields that surround the Friskney Ditch.  There are efforts being made by The Watershed Foundation (TWF) to further reduce the sediment and improve the quality of the water entering Loon Lake from the Friskney Ditch.

The Winters Ditch is also located on the south end of Loon Lake and comes into the lake near the corner of CR250 and CR700.  This water comes out of Goose Lake and travels north through farmland to Loon Lake.  This is again a potential target for long term plans for water quality improvements being made by TWF.

The third major contributor to Loon Lake’s water is the short ditch that runs from Old Lake. Old Lake’s water comes from New Lake. Ultimately the water from New and Old Lakes comes into Loon Lake.  The quality of the water coming from this inlet is typically very good since it comes from two lakes and is minimally influenced by agricultural runoff. 

All of Loon Lake’s water flows to the north and exits Loon Lake through the ditch (Shaefer Drain) on the north end of the Lake near Buckles Road.  Downstream this water combines with the water coming from Crooked Lake and Big Lake.  According to the Director of the US Geological Survey the start of the Tippecanoe River is the tiny channel flowing from Little Crooked Lake to Crooked Lake.  Thus, Loon Lake’s outgoing water goes downstream and immediately flows into what is considered the early stages of the Tippecanoe River. This combined water flows north and west through Smally Lake.  The water then flows west into Wilmot Pond, which is formed by a small dam on its western side. After Wilmot, Tippecanoe River crosses into Kosciusko County and enters Backwaters Lake, the basin of Webster Lake.  After going over the dam at Webster Lake, the river travels a few miles and enters Lake Tippecanoe. The water exiting Lake Tippecanoe reforms and continues as the Tippecanoe River.  The water in the Tippecanoe River then flows into the Wabash River, then into the Ohio River, then into the Mississippi River and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. As you can see Loon Lake’s water travels a long way!

One of the most important parts of Loon Lake’s water’s path to the Gulf of Mexico is its trip through the Tippecanoe River.  The Miami and Shawnee Indians named the Tippecanoe River Kithtippecanunk, or “place of the buffalo fish,” which still can be found in the river. Its clear waters and wooded shores provide rich habitat for the abundance of fish, mussels and wildlife that live here. Very few streams in the upper Midwest can match the number of imperiled species or the overall species diversity that the Tippecanoe River supports.  The Nature Conservancy has identified it as one of the top ten rivers in the United States to preserve due to its ecological diversity and the high proportion of endangered species found in it.

Loon Lake plays an important role in the Tippecanoe River and its watershed.  This is great news for Loon Lake homeowners.  Because of the importance of the Tippecanoe River watershed, we receive assistance with water quality improvements through grants and the work done by TWF.  The LLPOA Board and the TWF will continue to work to protect and improve Loon Lake’s water quality.  We hope you can appreciate the impact Loon Lake plays in a much larger water quality plan.    




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