Every great natural destination needs a tireless historian. Historian, author and local archivist Marty Kane has eagerly filled this role, thriving on the tradition and future of his beloved surroundings.
Author of several historical books on Lake Hopatcong history, Kane is considered a natural resource of his own. His titles include, “Hopatcong, a Century of Memories (Arcadia, 1999), “Greetings from Bertrand Island Amusement Park (Arcadia, 2000), and a historical DVD to accompany the latter. Kane has also written a new foreword to the re-release of “Illustrated Guide to Lake Hopatcong For Season of 1898” and authored dozens of “Then and Now” features for this publication, which were also compiled into a 2008 area publication. As a member of the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club, he also compiled an archive of historical photographs for the publication, “A Century of Memories: The Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club’s First Hundred Years.”
Kane grew up spending his summers on the lake with his family, a common tradition for many families in the 1950s and 1960s. “My parents started by renting a bungalow in the River Styx (area) and a few years later bought a summer house on Lakeside Boulevard in Hopatcong.” Growing up, Kane and his family loved going to Bertrand Island Park, the amusement park located on the Bertrand Island peninsula between 1928 and 1983. He also loved to fish and go boating in his father’s Chris-Craft boat. Growing up observing his father’s strong sense of volunteerism, Kane has always been inspired to model the same spirit around his beloved lake.
“We used to come up on June 30th, after the last day of school in New York City, and that was it. You had a second life at the lake. You were there for the summer, and you had your lake friends,” Kane reminisced.
“You spent it all around the lake, and a lot of it in the lake.” As a teen, he’d take his family boat across the lake to see friends or to hang out at Bertrand Island.
But even on his own, Kane was reminded that he was part of the larger community fabric. “It was a simpler time when you went to places like Bertrand Island and you did anything out of line, your mom and dad would hear about it before you got home,” he laughed.
After law school, Kane took a position as a government attorney at Picatinny Arsenal: a great opportunity, he thought, to be back near his beloved lake. Now, besides his full-time job at Picatinny, Kane has spent 20 years volunteering as President of the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum. Over these two decades, he has overseen the expansion and modernization of the quaint, two-story building located in Hopatcong State Park. Within its walls, Kane has worked to create a repository of historical artifacts, memorabilia, photographs, and changing exhibits about the lake. Planning and executing exhibits at the museum is always “one big project,” he concedes. He also
volunteers as a member of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation Board of Directors, where he seeks to “plant the seeds” for long- term environmental and quality of life initiatives. He lives in Mountain Lakes with wife Laurie and daughter Natalie, where he also serves as Vice-Chair of the planning board. The Foundation was launched last year as a way of fundraising and providing oversight of recreational and environmental initiatives for the lake. Initiatives have included advances on lake safety, hiking trail access and information, and advancing partnerships for a water study team.
“I’ve always been interested in history and specialized in post-1945 American history in college,” said Kane. “I became involved with the Lake Hopatcong Historical Society after visiting the museum and attending a few of their programs. The interesting history of the lake captivated me.” Kane has made it part of his mission to educate residents and visitors about the lake’s unique history as a premier northeast resort.
And there is a lot of history, indeed. During Kane’s years around the lake, he has observed the shift from its identity as a summer lake community to a largely year round residential community. “In the winter, only one guy lived on the street year- round,” he said. “There was a joke that on Labor Day we would give the lake back to the Indians.”
Still, his archive of photographs and histories proves that summer memories are treasured by both residents and day-trippers alike. This year, Kane expects to be as busy as usual assisting at events including June’s antique boat show at Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club and the Fourth of July celebration. But before summer heats up, Kane encourages people to come out to the museum, which will be open this spring on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. The museum also holds four major events annually at area restaurants and theatres. For more information about these events, or to become involved in the Lake Hopatcong Museum, visit www.lakehopatconghistory.com or call (973) 398-2616(973) 398-2616.
For more information about the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, contact Jess Murphy, president, at email@example.com or call (973) 663-2500(973) 663-2500.
For his own rest and relaxation, Kane prefers going to the lake on weekdays, when things are a bit quieter. He also enjoys seeing more season- al activities popping up around the lake again, where families can enjoy miniature golfing and ice cream. “It reminds me of when I was a kid. It feels much more like a vacation destination again.”
When he imagines the museum and foundation’s future, he sees them deeply intertwined with the future of the lake and dependent upon people to help secure a healthy vision. An advocate for a stronger “community spirit” in and around the lake, he seeks ways for residents to work cooperatively together for the betterment of the lake.
Meanwhile, his spirit of volunteerism has been enough of an example for his daughter that she hopes to major in history when she attends college next year.
“The best years of Lake Hopatcong are ahead of us,” he said, “as long as we work together to make it so.”
Marty Kane stands in the large, second-floor room that houses the Historic Hotels collection at the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum.