Why the ‘E’ in Stoney of Stoney Lake Reflections?

Why the ‘E’ in Stoney of Stoney Lake Reflections?

What’s in a name?

I was always intrigued about the anomaly between spellings regarding ‘Stony’ versus ‘Stoney’.  Although ‘Stony’ is the predominantly accepted spelling, throughout Storer history, the lake has been spelled either way.  Each spelling is noted on maps of different generations, as seen in the exhibits below. Personally, I always thought the ‘E’ made the lake sound historical or important. For example ‘Ye Ol’ Stoney Lake’.  The different spellings of the lake by cartographers were probably affected by the different spelling of the ring road, where you find North Stoney Lake Road and South Stony Lake Road, the spellings each used on local street signs.  Even more confounding is that some maps show both spellings being used.  Interestingly enough, this isn’t the only errant ‘E’ found at camp*.  

                                                           ‘E’ in Lake StonEy

Whether, Stony or Stoney, no one is confused about the importance of this 240 acre body of water (Lat/Long: 42.155594 -84.283005), which includes extensions aptly named ‘little’ and ‘petite’.  Stony Lake is categorized as a ‘Kettle’ or ‘Glacial’ lake by the United States Geological Survey.  These lakes are usually shallow bodies of water, filled with sediment, formed by retreating glaciers or draining floodwaters from glacial movement.  Anyone that has swam outside of the confines of the North or South swimming docks can vouch for sediment!


David Mann's 'Peace on Blue Lake' captures how 
my 8 year old brain pictured the naming of Stoney Lake 

As a youth, I heard a story of origin regarding the name of the lake.  The story which detailed the name Stony/Stoney was derived by the Native Americans who saw the algae balls resting on the lakes floor and thought they looked like stones, hence, Stoney Lake.  This explanation could be the product of a quick thinking staff member with an active imagination, but I remember it nonetheless. Perhaps the lake’s naming story provided a distraction from the overall unsavoriness of algae balls in the lake?

I would characterize the origin of the name Stony Lake as lore, but to my knowledge, an unverifiable myth that may of been part of the Native American ‘Indian’ themed days once held on South Center. (Who remembers learning Native American version of checkers played with corn, or the hand slap game? Coming up with ‘Indian’ names, or perhaps the giving and receiving of the then-named ‘Indian Burns’?)

UPDATE 1/29/18: 
Dan Wymer, local amateur archeologist gave me some insights on the name of the lake! Dan suspects Stony lake got it’s name ‘because it is the nearest lake to the Napoleon sandstone deposits. South Stony/Stoney Lake Road was originally an Indian trail that passed through what is now Napoleon and across the sandstone deposits. Anyone traveling the trail would have encountered the lake right before or right after the sandstone.  That trail would have been the main travel route through the area before roads were built.’.  So perhaps, the name came from the stones along the lake path!

Dan’s work will be highlighted in future Blogs and will be a guest on the podcast…stay tuned!


In the meantime, I will be digging for more information on the disparate spellings of our wonderful Stony (Stoney) Lake!

*As an aside, the use of an extra ‘E’ is also found on the Lewis & Clark cabin located on the North Side, where the routed sign is spelled ‘Lewis & Clarke’  while the name is correctly spelled on camp maps.  Although incorrect, I am glad that this misspelled artifact has not been corrected!  I enjoyed being a long-termer counselor in that cabin for two geat summers!  At the time, it was the largest cabin on the North Side.  It is now beautifully repurposed as a multi use space currently housing books and a space for musicians to gather replete with donated guitars and ukuleles.

Lewis and Clark(e) Cabin (was never this bright -or refined- when I was a counselor!)


  1. King Stoney
    Feb 8, 2018

    That ol sneaky E

  2. Heath
    Feb 12, 2018

    ‘Ye Olde Stoney Lake’ has an historic weight to it.

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Storer's 100th CelebrationJune 30, 2018
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