A Hidden Gem: Moose Lake


Which Wisconsin lake once squeaked? Strangely enough it’s Moose Lake in Waukesha County.  Originally named Mouse Lake by Native Americans for its small size, its name changed in the early 1900s.  Local lore reports a wealthy resident paid to change the name to Moose Lake for a large, strong animal after continual ribbings he took on the golf course for living on little Mouse Lake.

old picture of bony lake  tdMoose Lake has a long history of human inhabitance beginning with the Native American Ho-Chunk tribe.  Their residency lasted uninterrupted until 1842, when the first European settlers arrived and formed the nearby town of Stone Bank.  Along with Ho-Chunk artifacts and burial sites, remnants of early Europeans include two sand bars from ice harvesting.  Ice harvesters came to Moose Lake to cut and store ice, then sell it to cool ice boxes.  Bones from unlucky horses that fell through while hauling out the ice still lurk at the bottom of the lake for scuba divers to find.

To understand historical changes in water quality, DNR’s then lake management specialist Bob Wakeman conducted a study of sediment from the deepest part of the lake.  His study found sedimentation in the lake increased between 1890 and 1950 as mechanized farming took off near the lake.  By the 1960s, agriculture around the lake was being replaced with housing and the sediment rate returned to pre-settlement levels.

Wakeman found evidence of the clear water in the 1980s when he saw the lake bottom 61 feet below during field work and reported, “That was the deepest look I ever had into any lake.”

Any look at Moose Lake must include the Hasslinger Resort and Apple Orchard, which was a fixture from 1922 to 1998.  Spanning 14 acres of land and more than 300 feet of shoreline, the resort afforded weekend relaxation for many Milwaukee families until it was sold and burned down in 1998.

Moose Lake was the party capital in the otherwise quiet Lake Country.  Every weekend, bands played on the resort’s small stage until the wee hours of the morning.

“The stories I could tell.  Every weekend we had people swimming in, boating in, and driving in from all over just to see our bands,” says Jack Grimm, a former bartender.  “There was no jitterbug dancing on Saturday nights because we were afraid it would cave in the old floor.”

Although the resort closed, Moose Lake continues as a vacation refuge.  The fun continues every summer.  There is an annual boat tie up, where residents congregate in the center and lash their boats together for a floating party.  On the Fourth of July, residents are treated to a private fireworks show by neighbor Mark Sellars.  Even in the winter, brave lake dwellers take advantage of the frozen lake for ice fishing, ice sailing and skating.

Because of its small size and high water levels, no-wake regulations prevent some activities such as water skiing and tubing.  Still, residents take advantage of the lake’s clear oligotrophic waters for swimming and fishing.  Anglers pursue largemouth bass, northern pike, bluegill, brown trout, and rainbow trout.  For several years in the 1970s, the lake was stocked with brown and rainbow trout.

“I remember in the winter a huge hole would be cut in the ice and the lake was “seeded” with young trout brought in by truck,” recounts former resident Heidi Levy.

These efforts have paid off for local anglers who enjoy catching these beautiful fish on Moose Lake and are thankful DNR introduced rainbow trout to the lake.

Though diminutive in size, Moose Lake holds an outsized claim on its inhabitants’ memories. Whether it’s the clear waters or the great fishing, it’s the mouse, no the Moose, that roared.

For more information on Moose Lake, feel free to contact the Moose Lake Advancement Association through their website.

Entry written by Alyson Douglas, DNR student hourly employee and lifelong resident of Moose Lake
This entry was posted in Blue Green Algae, Grants, Lake News, Lakes Partnership, Other, Water Quality and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to A Hidden Gem: Moose Lake

  1. steve klock says:

    Love these history stories keep them coming. Please include lake information such as acreage, depth, etc. Or did i manage to just miss this info?
    Thank you.
    FYI new adress is: steve.klock@sheboygancounty.com

    • mikeputnam says:

      Glad you enjoyed this blog on Moose Lake. You didn’t miss lake statistics like depth and acreage. We keep the blogs short but try to add additional information through highlighted hyperlinks.

      Clicking on the one for Moose Lake takes you to DNR’s webpage for Moose Lake. There you will find acreage and depth and more information on fish, invasive species, water quality, boat landings, maps and grants for the lake.

      To find useful information on any lake in Wisconsin, go the DNR website dnr.wi.gov. Enter “lake” into the search box and you will be taken to a page where you can search for a lake by name. From there you can go to that lake’s webpage.

  2. Marge Wolf says:

    I started coming to Moose Lake with my family as a child in the early 50’s. We were members of the Carl Schurz Park German Club. The beautiful grounds of Carl Schurz Park, and the historic hotel have been refurbished and well maintained to this day. Many locals are now members of the Park and enjoy the beauty of Moose Lake with a small marina for boat slips and a clean swimming area.

    • Laurie Hill says:

      I would love to visit Moose Lake. I grew up there on the west side, two houses down from Carl Schurz Park. My great grandparents owned the resort for many years before they sold it to the Carl Schurz Park owners. It was an idyllic place to grow up! I’m thrilled to hear that the park owners continue to take such good care of the hotel and grounds.

  3. Wilhelm says:

    I wondered why my brother enjoyed his time at the lake so much. Now, I understand, and can’t believe he isn’t there even more. It truly is one of his finest treasures.

  4. Marguerite L. Lawless says:

    I so enjoyed reading this! THANK YOU!!! I have lived in Phoenix, AZ area for almost 30 years, but am originally from the Milwaukee area and have been missing home and the glory that is Wisconsin. Some of my fondest memories are from my youth when my Dad worked for the Bruner Corporation and every summer they would have a Company Picnic at Moose Lake!! We would row a boat around the Lake, go swimming and simply have a glorious time. My family is now all gone, but the memories, well, they are precious and I am so grateful to you for sharing your knowledge of this well-kept and beautiful treasure. Again, THANK YOU!!!

  5. Colin says:

    I love this story about this original lake 100s of years old I recently found this lake while exploring lakes in the winter to ice fish on this one was the best and I am going to enjoy it in the summer and wint. This lake feeds large pike up to 40 inches, small and large bluegill, even some record bass. This is the best lake to fish as the middle road between okauchee and moose creates a wind break. The only wind not to fish in is wind from the north or south.

  6. Dave says:

    Took my wife and granddaughter here last summer fishing from the nice fishing deck they have at the boat launch. I was baiting and unhooking bluegills for a good hour,but I didn’t mind they were having fun and I was having fun watching them having fun,what a great place to fish and relax !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Nicole MK says:

    Our family has had what we call “The Cottage” since the 1950s and we constantly stay out there or go just for the day (a lot of us live in Waukesha/Milwaukee). It used to be just my grandparents and the four daughters but now with everyone having children, there’s about 30 people!

    Every year for my birthday parties we’d swim across the lake to hasslinger’s, it breaks my heart to see it gone! Always remembered:)

  8. Kim Frantz says:

    Moose Lake seems to be the gem of a lake – we stayed out on the water all day Sat. we loved the quiet no wake life on this clean lake. I can’t say enough about it! I have lived in Oconomowoc all my life and being there one day has changed my mind on my Fav lake. I loved reading the some of history of Moose Lake. I hope to keep reading more of the “good old days” and would love to know if and where there is a plane hidden below the surface.

  9. Terry Koper says:

    My wife and I are both ethnic German and live near Carl Schurz Park, and are members. You can’t help where your are from. Your ancestors took care of that. But you can take advantage of where you are from, and it is wonderful being ethnic German in Southeast Wisconsin. Carl Schurz park is a real gem for Germans. The events and food there are very special, Moose lake really is quite a gem. With my grown children and grandchildren, we will be ice fishing there at a winter celebration at the park in a few weeks. Moose Lake is well cared for, and Carl Schurz Park contributes a lot to its well being, in many ways. Terry & Stephanie Koper, Oconomowoc.

  10. Lynn Glor says:

    Most wonderful memories living on Moose Lake in 1953/54. I was in 7th grade and lived in the big 3 story house on the point on Hasslingers Dr. I picked apples in summer of 53! Lots of fun memories swimming and ice skating with all the neighborhood kids!!!

  11. Bonnie Guerra says:

    I was so surprised to find this. I was searching to see if Moose Lake was public at all. I have so many memories. I started going with my dad who had the company Harley Davidson company picnics there. Must have been early 60’s. I then would stay in the water all day. They had a slide right in the water Then there was a little stand when you came out of the water where Joy was there to sell you all the goodies (candy,ice cream) etc. She had a bunch of kids and lived up the road past the apple orchard. I would hang around with Jack I think one of her sons. There was this older kind of creepy old man that walked around with a cane I think was the owner at one time. We would go into the bar and walk through the dance hall and I always had to go and plunk on the old piano on the way to the bathroom. Years later my dad taught me how to scuba dive until a snake went past me and then I said no way. Then when I got older the bar was the place to be, such fun and so many memories. Wonder if Jack is still around?

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