Ohio’s Inland Seashore

– Commodore Steve Harris, BLYC Historian
 June, 2021

Ohio’s Inland Seashore
“The Atlantic City of the Middle-West”

Recently, while going through some old files I’d saved “for later,” I came across an article from the Medina Sentinel dated August 1, 1913. To set the stage of the time – it was just a decade earlier that the Interurban added the spur from Hebron to Buckeye Lake. The Columbus, Buckeye Lake, & Newark Traction Company, at that time, purchased 100 acres on the north shore of the lake for the development of hotels, restaurants, and other attractions in order to attract passengers. BLYC, founded in 1906, was a driving force in the lake’s development in those early years. By 1912, we had outgrown our “temporary” clubhouse – over the water on the southeast corner of Watkins Island – and construction of the “new” clubhouse began. Our current Clubhouse was dedicated in May of 1913 and Buckeye Lake was quickly becoming the hotspot resort in the midwest. Here are a few excerpts from that article.

So, up bobs the annual question: Where shall I spend my vacation? To the majority of people a waterside vacation is most desirable. The invigorating breeze from a body of water will put new life into anyone and instill an appetite that craves four meals a day. It is not necessary to go to the seashore to get the benefits of a stay on the waterfront. There are many inland bodies of water that are accessible. For those living in the middle west, especially the central and southern parts of Ohio, Buckeye Lake, thirty miles from Columbus, the state capital, offers a pleasant solution of the vacation problem.

The vacation seeker who goes to Buckeye Lake will find his plans ready made for him. Boats, from a yacht or a high-powered motor craft down to a rowboat or canoe, are at his disposal. He can live at the Harris Hotel in Buckeye Lake park, he can rent a cottage along the waterfront or deep in the beautiful woods that border the lake or he can stay at one of the summer hotels or boarding houses scattered along the eighteen miles of lakeshore. He can mingle with the merry crowds of cottagers and transient visitors from neighboring cities, which daily seek recreation among the many amusements offered at the park, or with rod and line he can haunt the quiet nooks and marshy inlets, where lurk the bass and their kindred of the lake.

“More and more people each year are learning the advantages of Buckeye Lake as a pleasure resort,” said Will D. Harris, manager of the park, in a recent interview. “Not only are Ohioans flocking here in greater numbers than ever, but many from other states have discovered this inland seashore, and have dubbed it the ‘Atlantic City of the Middle West.’ I know a family from Virginia who come here every year because they find the society so congenial and free from the loose elements so often met with at summer places. Before they began coming here they had spent the acation season at Old Point Comfort and other eastern resorts.”

One Joyous Day

Here is a typical summer day as it was spent by a family living in one of the cottages along the lakeshore. All are up early, and after a hearty breakfast father stocks his rowboat with fishing tackle and goes out for a forenoon’s angling. Mother prefers to stay at home and just rest during the forenoon. Brother Bob hurries away to join a yachting party and the girls go for a ride in a motorboat.

The family are all back in time for a dip in the lake before luncheon. Even mother joins in the fun. They don their bathing suits in the cottage, and with a few flying strides Brother Bob and the girls are across the boat landing, splashing in the cool blue depths. Father and mother are not far behind them. Luncheon is waiting when they come out.

After luncheon father and mother decide to take one of the boats that ply the lake and run down to Summerland Beach, where they spend the afternoon at the Chautauqua. The young people are full of plans for attending a house party which is being given by some young acquaintances on the other side of the lake. Brother Bob brings “Bessie,” the little family launch, around to the landing, and they go chug-chugging across the lake to their friends’ bungalow.

In the evening, the house party charters a big launch for a ride over the waters, now glowing scarlet with the sunset, to one of the hotels, where they have dinner. Then back they go through the dusk to the park. Some of the boys get out their mandolins and guitars and the tinkling music floats over the water in the wake of the launch. A burst of electric lights as they round a point shows them they are nearing the park. the launch lands and the laughing young folks scramble out. The remainder of the evening flies quickly while they dance at the park pavilion to the music of an orchestra that plays and sings.

By 11 o’clock Brother Bob and the girls are in bed, talking in whispers so as not to disturb father and mother, through the door separating their rooms, about a regatta that is to be held on the morrow by the Yacht Club.

Visions of days spent like this floating through the brain of the worker as he toils through these heat-ridden weeks must cause a sigh of longing.

Perhaps he pushes the thought of a vacation from his mind with the conclusion that it is too expensive. A vacation at Buckeye Lake is not costly. Round trip tickets from Columbus via the Ohio Electric railway cost only 75 cents. Hotel rates in all the summer places about the lake are exceptionally low and fully furnished cottages can be rented for moderate cost.

So it seems, over a century later, as much as things change, they also stay very much the same. Buckeye Lake is quickly becoming a “hotspot” again as we enter a new time of development, growth, and increased activity. As in the early days, the Club remains a driving force in our lake community. We are truly blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy it.

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