For most of its early history, Lake Manitou was a fishing lake in both the summer and winter. There are bass, both black and largemouth, crappie, bluegill, spotted gar, northern pike, yellow perch, shad, sunfish, and carp.
In the early days of the lake, Duck Landing rented rowboats and there were fishing cottages all along Mitchell Park Drive. Wooden rowboats were rented for 10 cents the first hour and 5 cents each additional hour. Past Mitchell Park is Sunset Bay, quite a fishing haven in the early days of the Lake, and in the middle of Sunset Bay is Coney Island.
All the islands are privately owned by Lake Manitou. Coney Island gets its electricity from land with an underwater cable. Like many of the islands, this one has been ravaged by beavers killing the trees, and waves eroding the shoreline.
There are six islands in the main lake: Coney, Big Island, Honey Moon, and Treasure Island. On the south end or “Head of the Lake”, there are numerous smaller islands in the marshes that are simply referred to as The Manitou Islands.
Big Island can be spotted in the center of the lake and even though it looks like one island, there are three islands each with different owners. All three islands have cottages on them, but the only electricity provided is through generators.
Honeymoon Island is still an island but is disappearing due to erosion. In the 1950s, a small cottage was placed on the island but has since been torn down.
Lake Manitou wouldn’t exist without the dam. Prior to the dam and mill being built, there were five ponds. In the treaty of 1826, the federal government promised the Potawatomi that a dam and a mill would be built. In 1827, with the creation of the dam, the 775-acre Lake Manitou was formed.
The first settlement in Fulton County, Tiptonville, was created after the mill was built. The dam, mill, and the settlement fell into disuse when the Potawatomi were removed to Kansas in 1838.