Visiting Bass Lake
If you are planning to visit Glenmassan or just spend some time out on Bass Lake, you may want to consider some of the other attractions and local businesses that the Bass Lake area has to offer:
The Historic Bass Lake Community Church is the oldest country community church in the State of Minnesota. This small rural church is a unique destination for both religious and history tourism and visitors are always welcome. Visit their website for more information.
The Bass Lake Bait Shop is open whenever the fishing season is. It is located on the corner of County Road 18 and The Bass Lake Road. Stop in to pick up live bait, supplies, pop and snacks.
A Brief History of Bass Lake
Excerpts from "150 Years on the Lake" reprinted with permission.
The Making of a Lake
Bass Lake by definition is a 203 acre body of water located in north central Delavan Township of Faribault County, Minnesota. Eighty four percent of Bass Lake is less than fifteen feet deep, classifying it as a shallow lake specifically into the eutrophic category.
Bass Lake Businesses
The Bass Lake Store 1939-1989
In 1939 Elmer Lein constructed a building just south of the Bass Lake Road on the north edge of Rice Lake where he intended to operate a store. In the fall of 1941 Raymond and Caretha Reynolds purchased the property including the store. There was one gas pump out in front where you could get five gallons of gasoline for 95¢. A quart of oil was 15¢ and Raymond would air up tires and fix flats.
Inside the store the menu included hamburgers, hot dogs and malted milkshakes. Soda pop, candy bars and ice cream cones were 5¢ each. Groceries and sundries were bought from Joseph Mocol, a distributor from Mankato who also serviced the Lubitz store in Delavan, and were marked up to a profit of one or two cents per article.
In the winter fur buyers would meet with trappers at the store to negotiate prices for furs, many of which were muskrat due to the presence of several hundred muskrat houses on Rice Lake. One such fur trading occasion happened to be on December 7, 1941, when news came over the radio of the Pearl Harbor Attack. Everyone was in shock and disbelief as the listened on to the breaking news reports. All fur dealers refused to buy any furs as excitement, worry and uncertainty turned to near panic. Muskrat and mink skins hung on the rafters of the store to dry until they could be marketed.
The Bass Lake Telephone Company 1899-1969
The Bass Lake Telephone Company offered not only local phone service but also long distance service which offered person to person or station to station. Person to person meant that you were asking to speak to a particular person or persons at a distant station. If you were calling for a telephone number or for an office, store or residence where there was a telephone, it was considered a station to station call. All short distance calls were about the same rate, but as the distance increased there was a considerable difference in toll charges in favor of the station to station calls. Either way there was no charge if nobody answered the phone. Lower long distance rates applied from 6:00 P.M. to 4:30 A.M. and all day Sunday.
For local calls one would simply pick up the receiver and listen for a voice. This was to determine if the line was free, or in other words if people we talking the phone was busy, if not you could make your call. A subscriber would then hang the receiver back up and ring the party they were calling using a series of long and short rings to represent numbers. If long distance was desired one would ring the operator and ask her for long distance, followed by the number you were calling and your own name and telephone number for billing purposes. Local calls were to be made by number only so as not to overburden the operator. If the name was not in the directory then the subscriber should ask the operator for the number otherwise the following ring line code signals were used:
2. __ __
3. __ __ __
4. __ __ __ __
6. ____ ____
7. ____ ____ ____
8. ____ ____ ____ ____
9. __ ____ __
General Ring – Emergency and Advertising
____ ____ ____ ____
There was a rule established for limiting conversations to five minutes in length in fairness and to the benefit all of the subscribers. Subscribers were encouraged to call their party as often as they like, but not hold the line for more that five minutes at a time. It was suggested that a neighbor may be waiting to make a call but would fear to offend by asking someone to give up the line. The recommendation was to allow your neighbor to talk and then to call up your party again if you wish to add to what you had already said. It was noted that experience had shown that five minutes was ample time for the average business or social call and that it was just another case where the Golden Rule should apply.
All telephones were rented from the association and no attachments were allowed to any lines or instruments without written permission. A rebate on telephone rental was allow if a subscriber would be absent for 30 days or more or if telephone service was out of order for 5 days or more. The association reserved the right to enter the premises of any subscriber at any time of the day or night to attach, alter, repair or remove its instruments or connection.
On January 6, 1968 the Bass Lake Telephone Company President, Dale Ripley, announced that the company had been disbanded and was in the process of being dissolved. The telephone system installed by the Bass Lake Phone Company was completely paid for in December 1953.
This was an above ground system that consisted of a single iron or copper wire that connected telephone subscribers just like a telegraph circuit. A conversation worked over one wire since grounding at each end provided a complete path for an electrical circuit. But as rural electrification (R.E.A.) was introduced, houses were all grounding their electrical circuits using the same earth the telephone company employed. A huge amount of static and noise was consequently introduced into the one wire magneto system by using a grounded circuit.
It was thought that it was time that the company should convert to a metallic or common battery system that used two wires to complete the electrical circuit, avoiding the ground altogether and thus providing a better sounding call. So from 1954 to 1960 members were assessed an additional fee per year for a building fund to cover the expense of converting. Then in 1961 it was learned that the Delavan Telephone Phone Company was planning to switch over to dial. In March, 1967 the Blue Earth Valley Telephone Company (BEVCOMM) took over the telephone service in Winnebago, sealing the fate of the Bass Lake Phone Company.
After the Bass Lake Telephone Company switched to the Winnebago operator in 1961 the subscriber lines were split. The subscribers connected to the line between the home of Orville Toft and Delavan stayed on the old Delavan line while everyone else switched over to Winnebago. Left on the Delavan line were: Bass Lake Resort, Donald Berkland, Everette Hart, Charles Herrmann, Mary Hermann, Myron Jahnke, William Johnson, Lowell May, Ralph McMonagle, Arnold Reinke, Raymond Reynolds, Harold Shields, Claude Smith and Orville Toft.
After the treasurer had finished paying all of the remaining bills, a sizeable amount of money remained in the building fund. It was determined that each member was entitled to $13.66 for each full year that they paid into the fund. After those payments were disbursed, the Bass Lake Telephone Company disappeared into history after 70 years of service.
The Thomas Blair Home 1874-Present
Thomas Blair's brick home is the most historic residence on Bass Lake. At it's height the Blair farm was one of the largest in Faribault County. The farm had it's own scale house where local farmers weighed their crops. Ice was harvested from the lake every year and stored in the icehouse that also served the entire community. The massive granary was overshadowed only by the colossal barn. There was even a second home constructed to house the hired man and his family. Tragically a fire destroyed the farm yard taking everything except the brick house and the hired hand quarters.
The Smith Log Cabin 1865-Present
The only surviving log cabin and presumably the oldest standing structure in Delavan township is the Smith Log Cabin on the northwest corner of Rice Lake. In addition to the cabin there is an immense barn, separate horse barn, granary, corn crib and railcar. It was used until the late 1950's.
The Bass Lake Church Parsonage 1871-Present
Built the same Year as the Bass Lake Community Church, it is one of the oldest homes on Bass Lake. The Church sold the property in 1907 and it was a private residence until 1982. The home was never remodeled and never had indoor plumbing.
The Smith Homestead 1866-Present
The Smith Farm on the west side of Bass Lake is not only the oldest but also the last original farm site left on Bass Lake. The farm site also has the distinction of having the oldest home on Bass Lake, predating the Thomas Blair home by 3 years. The farm has been in the same family for well over 120 years.
The Bass Lake Schoolhouse 1922-Present
Located on the corner of County road 18 and the Bass Lake Road, it is now a private residence.
In 1939 Carl L. Hagger purchased a small tract of land on the southern shores of Bass Lake. His vision was to develop one of the most beautiful lakeshore properties in southern Minnesota. A lagoon was constructed near the shore that was rip-rapped with limestone. The island in the center of the lagoon was planted with dwarf evergreens and a structure depicting early history in Faribault County was contemplated but never constructed. An arched bridge was constructed to give simply access to the island while weeping willows were planted to surround the entire lagoon.
During the construction of Basswood Park not a single tree was cut down unless its removal meant to benefit other trees. Many evergreens were planted to give a more variegated color scheme for year around enjoyment.
In 1948 Basswood Park was advertised as having deep wells, graded and graveled drives, daily mail service and modern underground electrical service. Garden space was offered at no extra cost with suitable grounds for baseball, tennis, croquet, or any desired outdoor sport or recreation. Lots were offered in various sizes by design so that homes could be built without the removal of precious trees. Lots located across the drive from the lakefront were substantially larger and still offered access to the shore with privilege of pier and dock erection.