Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lakeside Park and Gropp's Lake

I was going to add some information about our neighbor - Lakeside Park- but found that Tom Glover's blog had reams of interesting items about Lakeside in the early years. My memories of Lakeside Park other than swimming and skating were about the Community House. There was such a structure in Lakeside Park. I don't know it's origin or what it's major uses were but I do know that it was used for movies at one point.
Lakeside of course refers to Gropp's Lake which itself had a long history. As kids, we spent many summer days swimming at the lake. In addition the the beach at the corner of Lakeside Blvd and Broad Street, Yardville Heights had it's own small beach. On the small end of the lake there was a small beach with a rudimentaly dock and ocassionally a diving board. It was used primarily by Height's residents. There was a sandy road that lead down the hill to the beach. Sometimes my Dad would drive down and we would ride back home standing on the running board of the car as it struggled up the hill. There was also a hill leading down from Roy Middleton's home. We called it the Bluff. It was a favorite spot for sledding in the winter. It had a fairly steep incline, a bump about half way down and best of all, if the lake was frozen you could sled right out onto the frozen lake.
We we got older, we could try to swim over to the dam or even over to the bridge.
We also spent a lot of time at the "Corner Store" which was on the Lakeside part of the lake.
It had a decent beach, a fixed diving board, a float, lockers and the store sold food and drinks too.In the winter, the lake often froze enough so that a car could drive on the ice to help clear off the snow.It has been a long time since that lake frose for skating.It was a great lake for skating since you skate for nearly a mile up to the head of the lake. Of course, we also had bon fires on the beach. The skating wasn't fancy, the ice was often a bit rough for that but we did play "crack-the-whip" and tried to jump over barrels. At night there were some flood lights in the area around the store. In my high school days we were even known to skate off into one of the darker areas at night with a girl friend and do a little necking.
In May 1979 the dam which formed the lake broke during a storm. As a kid, when we had hurricanes or major storms we went down to the dam to watch the thundering flow of water over the dam. It had a flood gate which could be opened to relieve some of the pressure.

and the lake was empty for several years.
Tom Glover mentions going onto the empty lake bed with metal detectors to see what was there I don't know if they found anything. I visited it in he mid 1980's to see what the empty lake looked like. It was a sad looking affair.

Eventually someone realized that the lake was a valuable additon to the area and the dam was rebuilt in late 1987. The lake refilled and while many of the features I knew are no longer there. it is an attractive addition to the ares. I have read blogs from younger people who talk about develped areas on the "Sunnybrea" side of the lake. In the 30's and 40's that side of the lake was just wooded. There were no swimming areas or much of anything else For most of it's life, the lake was a favorite fishing spot. My uncle kept a row boat in the lake at the Yardvile Heights end. We often went fishing on the lake but I don't emember catching much of interest except one Oswego Bass about 12" long that I caught. From it's inception in the late 1800's until today what is known as Gropp's Lake has provided recreation for perhaps hundreds of housands of people.

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