Crystal Lake’s West End Not So Bad

After we moved here, I was the only morning fisherman on the lake during the summer of 1958.

The kingfisher caught more fish than I did.

We bought a new boat for water skiing and I thought the West End of Crystal Lake was deeper than it is now.

When jumping off the boat to go water skiing, I couldn’t touch bottom.

The last time I jumped, I sank to my hips in muck.

I have been disturbed for years at the lack of concern from local officials at the siltation of the West End from run-off from the sod farm that preceded Lippold Park—even after the Crystal Lake Park District purchased it.

I figure the whole West End had silted in as a result of that negligence.

So, imagine my surprise at what Geologist Brandon Curry from the Illinois State Geologic Survey revealed last month. He was telling me about the bathymetric survey.

At one point he mentioned that “sediment in the lake…really does not seem to be a big problem.”

After this assertion, I had to bring up the West End. I told him my experiences and Curry explained his:

Shallow conditions in the West End meant that to make water depth measurements for the bathymetric survey, I had to jump out of our boat and measure water depth by wading and using a measuring stick.

Although I did find a few areas where the muck was quite thick, I also was amazed to see how much of the West End was quite shallow, and rocky.

I took the depth measurements about every 50 feet along imaginary east-to-west trending lines. One of the things that I discovered while I did this tens of times was that the mucky crap was way thicker the closer I got to the shore.

I also found that there were shallow moats from one to two feet deep and about 5 feet wide that paralleled the shoreline.

My guess is that the moats formed where boat motors had swept the sediment free as boaters ventured from their docks to deeper water.

The thickest muck was near the Lippold outlet, although I could not measure its exact thickness.

But I would say that 80 percent, perhaps more, of the West End is pretty much muck-free.

The muck appears to be concentrated in a 50 to 100 foot wide band extending from the shore towards the deeper part of the lake.

I also had first-hand experience with wading through thick muck near the lakes southeastern outlet to Crystal Creek… so the muck is not confined only to the West End.

But it definitely is primarily a local problem; “mucky” is not a term that describes much of the lake bottom.

The Monday before he had told me,

As I was approaching the shore, I’d say 200 feet from shore, as I approached the docks, I would go down 1 or 2 feet and then come back up, suggesting that boat traffic had created a moat or a little pathway though the shallow water. The moats were parallel to the shoreline, and allowed boat access to deeper water.

Aerial view of Crystal Lake

The siltation was concentrated along docks and where Lippold comes into the lake.

But you could go 30 feet away from the dock and you’d be walking on very firm rock.

People have talked to me about the siltation problems, but I think they’re talking the end of the dock.

There’s a band about 100 feet from the shoreline where evidence of siltation just disappeared.

In the eastern part of the West End south of Rumsey’s Point where the lake water depth is from 18 to a bit more than 20 feet. This deep extends east into the main part of the lake. So not all of the West End is shallow.

Frankly, I was astounded and quite pleased by what Curry told me.

He even suggested that the muck could be vacuumed out (but at a big cost!).

I wonder if the moats paralleling the shore were created by ski boats.

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Notes from 11 years ago follow:
If you didn’t read yesterday’s story about the bottom of the rest of the lake and the one about how old Crystal Lake is, you might want to. I also wrote a story about mercury in Crystal Lake. Another story about what the State Geologic Survey found out about Crystal Lake will appear Saturday.

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Photos are of the west end of Crystal Lake in late December of 2006. The lake is not frozen.

On December 6, 2006, however, it was frozen, as the next picture of the West End attests. Usually, ice fishermen’s huts dot this end of Crystal Lake. One can see the huge new house at its left hand edge of the smaller scale photo.

The final image is one from Google’s satellite file.


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