Yesterday's Magazette

12 – A Paradise Of Fun

A Paradise of Fun

By Linda Masek 

One of my favorite places to visit as a child on vacation during the early 1960’s was Atwood Lake Park. To me, it meant everything nautical, and being part fish, or so my mother told me, the only thing I was missing were gills! I was in my element at Atwood Lake, located off of Route 77, Route 542 and south of Akron, Ohio in Tuscarawas and Carroll Counties. The park, with its stately lodge up on a gigantic hill or so it seemed to me as a child, was a boater’s heaven on earth. For those people who were marginal boaters or not boaters at all (they like to look, but not particularly sail) this place was still highly attractive with its beautiful views and scrumptious food.  

I remember seeing the sailboats and pontoon boats skim across nearby Atwood Lake, like white seagulls in flights across the dark green water, the first time I visited the Atwood Lake Reservoir over fifty years ago. The dam and park had been in existence much longer, having been constructed in 1936 after the Great Depression of 1929 by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. It cost well over a million dollars, a staggering amount of money for that time. The lake and surrounding district became popular for hunting and fishing; later the Atwood Lake Lodge that I remember from my childhood, was constructed along with an extensive campground. All types of water activities became extremely popular and a yacht club was formed which recently celebrated an anniversary going back in time over fifty years.

Besides the lake, there was a riding stable directly down the road. Since horses were my favorite animal, my mother drove me over to the barn for a ride through the cool, pine-shrouded woods. Afterward, we would return to the Lodge to feast on chicken, fish and many delicacies, including a bountiful buffet on Sunday that tourists and locals came to sample from miles around.

Ultimately, Atwood Lodge expanded beyond the lake beach and installed two private pools, a golf course, and a shuffleboard area. The lodge was so popular that many people held wedding receptions there; I remember sitting on our private porch overlooking the lake and watching girls in beautiful white dresses literally float over the grassy knolls to the private ceremony uniting them with their true loves.

On a recent trip to the Atwood area, my first view of the lake and new, modern restaurant, the Lighthouse Bistro, (after following a heavily wooded road down the west end of Atwood Lake), was the lighthouse, which rises like a magical white witch’s wand into the sky. Upon entering the restaurant, a magnificent view of the marina and the lake met my eye. Indoor booths give an excellent view of the comings and goings of vessels on the water, while an outdoor patio with shade umbrellas provides an even closer look. For those adventurous souls who wish to venture out on the lake, all kinds of boats can be rented by the hour. There was also a large pontoon boat, the Atwood Queen, that took passengers on a one hour tour of the region. A local guide provided interesting tidbits of information about the nearby Atwood Dam, cottages on the shore and history of the area.

The campground, visible from the wharf across from the Atwood Queen dock is still popular especially during the hot, muggy days of an Ohio summer. Unfortunately, the stately Atwood Lodge, which could be seen from the lake, has become the victim of the declining economy in the region, and many of the activities I remembered as a child have been transferred to the Marina.

New ventures in the region include a local winery. Farther south in Sherrodsville, Ohio, at 6128 Factor Road is the Coffee Pot Alpaca Farm. Visitors can view these delightful animals up close. The owners, Chuck and Kathie Thompson, are happy to show guests around their ranch. The gentle alpacas stare wide-eyed at visitors and may make a soothing, almost humming sound by way of welcome. The alpaca’s fleece is highly desired; selective breeding has produced animals that are not only cute but valuable, between $15,000 and $100,000 per animal. For those travelers in the region who like animals and learning about them, or who are interested in a career as an alpaca farmer, Coffee Pot Alpaca Farm is the place to visit.

The Atwood Lake Region today has something for everyone: sailing, animal life or the gorgeous panorama of leaves in the fall that rival the best that New England has to offer. My visit took me back to the days of my youth and I concluded that the Atwood Lake Country is a land for all people, rich in resources, where the simple pleasures in life can be savored and enjoyed.

Vol. 38 No. 3 – Copyright © Yesterday’s Magazette – Fall- 2011

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