Wolverine Lake was created in the 1920s through a private damming and inundation project funded by local dentist and developer Howard Stuart. Wolverine Lake was created from six small lakes; Spring, Mayie, Pork Barrel, Bickling, Taylor and Bradley, all surrounded by marsh land.
The idea to build a dam came to Dr. Stuart one spring day in 1914 while out walking along the culvert that crossed the road where the dam is now. The culvert had filled with sand, making the water back up, and flooding the land south of the road. At that time, he thought that the six small lakes, surrounded by marsh, had possibly been a single large lake at one time.
A critical early step in creating the lake involved the construction of the nearby dam, which began in 1919 and was built with the aid of 10 teams of horses. The dam allowed water levels to rise eight feet in the marsh surrounding Spring, Mayze, Pork Barrel, Bicking, Taylor, and Bradley Lakes, thus uniting them.
They encountered many discouraging setbacks along the way, such as striking a hole at the east end of the dam, and filling in four feet of dirt each day to only have it sink back four feet each day; the raising and graveling of Benstein Road at a cost of $6,000; and two lawsuits: one wanting damages and one wanting the dam taken out. Dr. Stuart won each case, including the last one that went all the way to the State Supreme Court.
They ran into another obstacle: the closing of a section line road between Mayze and Spring Lake. That road can still be seen today under the water of Wolverine Lake. The county attorney advised them they would have to get all the property owners to sign a petition to close the road.
Finally the dam was completed. The fill is 600 feet long and the concrete structure is 72 feet across from one wing tip to the other. The main body and spillway is 24 feet and constructed on 26 feet of marl. From the bottom of the foundation to the top of the concrete it is 40 feet. One side of the dam settled 9-3/4 inches in the first month. They took levels for 3 years after that and it never settled again.
In making the lake, an island was formed on Dr. Stuart's land that is now called Stuart's Oak Island. Dr. Stuart can truly be called the Founding Father of Wolverine Lake, as it is the nucleus and heart of the community.
Residents' concern for their lake and the desire to maintain control of it led to the formation of the Consolidated Subdivision of Wolverine Lake. Eight separate subdivision associations joined together in the early 1940s to form a more viable political force. Attempts to divide the lake and the surrounding community by annexation or incorporation by the neighboring communities led the Consolidated Subdivision to try for incorporation as a home rule Village in 1954. A charter was approved by Governor G. Mennen Williams on May 11, 1954 and adopted by the voters on June 7, 1954. Upon incorporation, a five-man Charter Commission was elected and Mr. Richard Melvin received the highest number of votes.
December 8 has been deemed Mr. Richard Melvin Day
Melvin was co-founder, President, Vice President and Secretary of the Consolidated Subdivision of Wolverine Lake, whose goal was to protect resident interests. He also was instrumental with the Greenaway Committee in obtaining an injunction against the draining of pollutants in Wolverine Lake and served as juvenile officer for the Village.
Being one of the ‘Founding Fathers' alone earned Melvin a place on the Wolverine Monument, but the sum of his contributions is a record of outstanding, selfless service to the Village of Wolverine Lake.
Also, under the flag pole at Village Hall lies the Clifford K. Cottrell Monument, which pays tribute to those responsible for our Community’s existence.
Once upon a time there really was a body of supposedly very deep water called Penny Lake. If you have a map of Wolverine Lake, look at its lower southeast corner. There once existed a very low and narrow neck of land between the Northern shore of Wolverine Lake and South Commerce Road. Within those confines was a large pond-like body of water known as Penny Lake, undoubtedly so named because of its size. The adjoining land was devoid of houses and heavily wooded. A one-lane car trail meandered in and out of the trees.
Village old-timer Clyde Hazen recalls a tale that in earlier winter times, ice was cut from the south end of Wolverine Lake and hauled away by four horse team wagons to nearby South Commerce Road. One such trip ended in disaster. The team driver of an ice-laden wagon drove over the low neck of land onto Penny Lake as a short cut to South Commerce Road. The story goes that the weight of the wagon was such that it broke through the ice. The driver jumped to safety but the wagon, contents and four horses plunged to the bottom of the then Penny Lake.
The narrow land barrier was dredged years later or somehow removed when lakefront homes began to be built on the shoreline.