Posted Monday, June 16, 2008 10:10 AM | Contributed by Jeff
Without the abundance of entertainment possibilities available today, people in the early 1900s occupied themselves with activities close to home. With the advent of the interurban, the possibility of traveling to destinations that offered water fun, boating and other recreational activities was born. Buckeye Lake proved to be the destination of choice in central Ohio starting in 1903, when the bus lines started traveling every half-hour from Lancaster and Newark. The first hotels at the lake were built in 1902, and by 1931 an amusement park was started when "The Dips" roller coaster was built. Not only was the park a tourist attraction, but it also was a major source of income for local residents.
Read more from The Lancaster Eagle Gazette.
Indiana Beach with it's cottages, small lakeside motels, and campgrounds is probably the best surviving example of that kind of park today. Ontario's Crystal Beach was a wonderful place with that same fantastic atmosphere, and it lasted into the late 80's. In addition to the classic collection of rides and architecture, there was fresh seafood and loganberry drink- a taste you could find nowhere else! We were all enchanted with Crystal Beach on an ACE trip in the early 80's.
In the comments below the Eagle Gazette article, people are speculating as to why Buckeye Lake Park didn't last. I think the demise of such parks is many fold. For one, travel became easier and more commonplace. Vacations of that kind gave way to larger destination parks and families selected different modes of transportation to condo communites and nicer hotels. Also, property along such lakes grew expensive, and cottage owners sold out to developers with permanent year-round lakeside communities in mind. The parks in turn became obsolete, run down, and the land on which they sat was finally sold for better use.
We have several friends with properties at Buckeye Lake now, and the houses range from modest to McMansions. It's all costing an arm and a leg these days! There's little evidence, if any, of the park that entertained central and eastern Ohioans for decades.
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