The Stump Story From Indian Lake, Ohio

This past week we have been learning about Indian Lake in Ohio thanks to Greg Wallace and rest of the Wallace gang. The Ramsey Bros have chimed in with some gold, and one could imagine that the lake is a paradise in the middle of Ohio. Gotta say, it sure feels that way. So how did it happen? Did mother nature bless this part of Ohio? Well.. Not really. Here is a quick history.

Early image from 1910

“Indian Lake was built between 1850 and 1857 as a feeder lake for the Miami and Erie Canal. It was known as Lewistown Reservoir until 1896, when the lake was purchased by the state of Ohio for a state park. In the 1920s, S. L. Wilgus built an amusement park on the shore of the lake near Russell’s Point.”

The Wallace family. This image alone I could spend a week on.

There. Now, from a foot on the ground historian, like Greg, when the lake was made, they cut the lumber. Hence things like walnut boat landings. Indian Lake is not a deep lake. 5 ft at tops. And well. in the late 1800’s things like motorized boats wasn’t really on the radar. BTW, neither was radar. So. Thus, as these boat rides took place, you better know the lake.. Like very well. And damage to struts and props was a huge issue. In fact as Greg told me, and I would have done the same, the guys at the marina would just go hang out near some of those spots and wait. BAM, and tow them in and do a repair. Oh come on, you would have done the same thing, in fact I bet I can replicate a conversation taking place on the boat while waiting.

A souvenir from back in the day

The new ramp!

“Here comes one, ya that guy looks like he just got that boat. Ya, oh.. buddy, see that marker.. buddy.. I got a nickel that he hits it. mmm, I don’t know, he is.. OHHHH! Ya, that left a mark” And there ya have it.

Not to be confused by the E.W Stump family, which is kinda ironic. But hey.

The channel from the marina

In the 1970’s the lake was drained so they could clear out some of the stumps and make the lake safer for many.

This killer poster is from the private collection of one of our secret Uncles.

I am sure this sort of history is not unique to Indian lake, man made lakes are all over the country, and yes, seems like 99% of them are named after Indians. Lake Mohawk for example. I am sure this was done out of respect and a sense of history. And so, hopefully these lakes will remain named with that in mind. Indigenous Peoples Lake just doesn’t have that sense of place to it.

24 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Lobdell, the lake we live on in Michigan, was created around 1900 to move lumber to the mill that is still on the lake. It was full of stumps until the 1960’s. Most were then removed except a few really big ones that the equipment could not handle. The lake residents know where they are and avoid them, but if the newbies don’t get a “stump tour” before boating, it can result in some damage. We try to keep everyone out of trouble!

  2. tparsons56
    tparsons56 says:

    I’m on a natural lake that gets over 100′ deep so I’m still trying to wrap my head around being on plane in a wood boat on a lake that’s only 5′ deep with stumps all over. I guess if you know where the stumps are it would be like going through a slalom run which could be fun. I would also think that on a sunny weekend in the summer there would be a lot of boat traffic to deal with along with the stumps. I tip my hat to the Wallace Family, especially the youngsters, who gave boats rides for all those years.

  3. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Great history!!!! Keep it coming!

    A 1957 – 59 21′ Continental with a hard top. That’s a pretty rare bird.

    • Greg Wallace (on Indian Lake)
      Greg Wallace (on Indian Lake) says:

      Troy, that continental is sporting one of the best executed factory convertible tops ever offered by Chris Craft. It is also the same boat we saw in yesterdays video at 1:32. My 5 year old cousin was riding/hiding in that boat parade float..

  4. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Is that thing with the big fins on the right in the showroom an Ancarrow?

    Keep this stuff coming…I will read them all when back from the Keys.

    John in Va

    • Mike K
      Mike K says:

      I just googled ancarrow boats
      How has this been missed on woodyboater
      Or maybe from days I missed!
      They make the wings on my60 Streblow look like sissy wings

      Thanks woodyboater

    • Greg Wallace (on Indian Lake)
      Greg Wallace (on Indian Lake) says:

      John, the fins belong to a Borum. A very fine flywood hull. There are others in the pic. Center under the Crestliner Jet Streak hanging from the ceiling and another hanging up on the right. Have fun everyone identifying the brands you see. This is 1957.

  5. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    Love that header photo in the showroom! So many sweet, now classic, boats. Looks like they may have been a Crosby dealer.

  6. Bilge Rat
    Bilge Rat says:

    Locals would say I don’t know where all the stumps are, I know where they aren’t.

    Works the same with shoals, rocks and hidden cribs.

  7. Mark in Ohio ( today in Florida)
    Mark in Ohio ( today in Florida) says:

    Another great Indian Lake story. Keep em coming. Loved the showroom picture and the new boat ramp picture. Several of those Lakes from the Miami Erie canal system in Ohio were full of stumps. Grand Lake St. Marys, Buckeye Lake, and of course Indian Lake. The workers cut the trees with crosscut saws chest high. which created stumps in a 5 to 6 foot deep lake. Like you said Greg no one cared until the power boat. I boated some on Grand Lake St. Marys while growing up. My Dad and his cousins seemed to know where the stumps were. I don’t remember having any problems. You water skied in the marked ski area because the stump were all removed there. and you didn’t ski anywhere else on the lake unless you were a dumb A$$ as it was said.

    • Greg Wallace (on Indian Lake)
      Greg Wallace (on Indian Lake) says:

      Stay tuned. I’m pretty sure Matt is going to show you (at some point depending how long he milks this) where all the stumps were. 🙂

  8. Bob in Mazeppa
    Bob in Mazeppa says:

    We have driven by Indian Lake several times in the last few years on are way to Skiff Craft Restorations in Plain City Ohio which is just a few miles to the east. Great story. Are their any pieces of the Miami canal still in existence?

      • Mark in Ohio ( today in Florida)
        Mark in Ohio ( today in Florida) says:

        There is a small piece of it just south of Middletown in Excello. Greg, in what year did your family close the Dealership / Marina at Russells Point.

    • Greg Wallace (on Indian Lake)
      Greg Wallace (on Indian Lake) says:

      Troy, I had at one time but sadly I don’t think so. That was one of I believe two that passed through the Marina in 1957. One I managed to later get my hands on only to be compelled to sell for college tuition along with a 20 ft. Continental. Coincidentally to the then owners of Treasure Island where my Dad and uncle grew up across the bay from Wallace Aero Marine. The other ended up with a dear Friend , John Kovach from Dayton and Hessel Michigan. He Kept in there for the duration of his ownership and was then passed along to a few other owners in the Les Cheneaux. It was featured in the “Legend of Chris Craft alongside Jim Mertaughs Capri and Frank Bronson’s continental as I recall. I passed all of the original files and records to the new owners.

  9. briant
    briant says:

    Here in Oregon, there are also many reservoirs that are chock full of stumps. The reason for the stumps having not been removed, was that the powers at be always, even to this day, say that the reservoirs are for irrigation first, and recreation second.

    Which IMO is utter crap. Why build a reservoir with a few on site camp grounds, and then watch the carnage. Just build the damn thing for all parties correctly in the first place.

    And as far as using Indian names, in my college town we had “Dead Indian Rd.” Was that way for decades until folks started to get their panties in a bunch. The solution at the time was to rename it “Dead Indian Memorial Hwy”.

    So perhaps…Indian Lake becomes Honorable Indian Lake, and the other one, “The Glorious Nation of the Chippewa Lake”.

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