Traveling the Chain of Lakes
Families who bought lake lots in that era didn't always build a cottage right away, but often first camped out. Later, after their savings recovered, they built a modest structure, and later a more substantial one. Most cottagers, even if they didn't own boats, had docks facing the lake so people could come and go on the water.
Base Line Lake also was named for its location--the east-west base line surveyors established for laying out the state runs through it. What is believed to have been the first cottage on its south side was built in the early 1880s by George Wahr, who owned two bookstores in Ann Arbor, and his brother-in-law, Charles Staebler, another Ann Arbor merchant.
The original cottage was one big room, which made staying there not much different from camping--though it did have a pump in the kitchen and a privy out back. The brothers-in-law enjoyed getting away with a group of friends, also Ann Arbor businessmen--the Haarers owned a pharmacy, the Arnolds a jewelry store, and Heinzman had an ice business--to play poker and fish. They later divided the cottage into two rooms so two families could stay together in semi-privacy.