Before Blue Marsh there was Fox Lake
Before Blue Marsh Lake was even a thought, Fox Lake was a small man-made lake along the Spring Creek right before it merged with the Tulpehocken Creek in North Heidelberg Township. It was a popular summer destination in Berks County beginning in 1928 through the mid-century. Initially developer Fox Lake, Inc. only advertised bungalows, which were popular amongst Reading residents as a means of escaping the city in the summer months. These bungalows surprisingly included some modern amenities for the time such as running water and a bath.
Within a few years modern year-round homes were also built around the area. All of them were razed in the 1970s when the Army Corp of Engineers built Blue Marsh Lake. Some remnants of stone stairways and foundations have been left behind.
According to this August 18th, 1934 Reading Times article, some of the occupants of the area at the time included Dr. and Mrs. Hiester H. Muhlenberg, Mr. and Mrs. J. Heber Parker, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Harmon, Mr. and Mrs. J.P. Sartz and Mr. and Mrs Elmer Mengel. The article also says the Muhlenberg’s owned the cottage on the top of the hill, which matches the ruins in the area of stairs #2 (referencing the images above).
The hand pump drinking fountain appears to be in the area of the remnants of the charming old stone farm house occupied by the Sartz’ indicated in the 1934 article linked above. The pump is a Monitor model pump manufactured in Wisconsin by Baker Manufacturing company. According to facebook commenter Glenn Riegel; the pump was installed by the ACoE when they were attempting to set up a camp ground in this area around the time Blue Marsh was being flooded. Funding for the camping infrastructure never quite panned out so the project and the pump have been abandoned since.
While all of the conveniences provided at Fox Lake were reserved for property owners, occasionally the area opened to the public to promote the community and entice more buyers. The 1929 Reading Times ad below promotes this type of event for “Decoration Day”, which is more recently referred to as Memorial Day.
At only two years after beginning the community of Fox Lake, it seems like things were going well. As the 1930 Reading Times ad below shows, many additions were being made to the area including tennis courts, miniature golf, and beach improvements.
All of the homeowners in this area had their properties taken by eminent domain and sold to the ACoE in the 1970s. The majority of the area that the bungalows covered is now under water. Below is the aerial of how the area looked in 1958 in comparison to how it looks now since the creation of the larger Blue Marsh Lake project. The main road around the area is now the Skinner’s Loop trail.