Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Queen of the Lake III’

Captain Bill Calmly Cruises Through Life

Captain Bill at wheel

Captain Bill takes the wheel of the Lorena Sternwheeler.

When you’ve been a captain for thirty-five years, navigating the waters is something you do with ease no matter the situation. William Page, called Captain Bill by those who know him best, has surrounded himself with life on or near the water for most of his life.

Captain - child

That’s Bill on the right with a diving helmet his dad found in a Pittsburgh River.

   Growing up in Zanesville, he lived close to the Muskingum River and had many daring adventures there as a child while picking up coal along the railroad tracks. Riding a log jam down the river while fishing was one escapade that got him in trouble. Often he and his cousins would climb up under the bridges to catch pigeons – they wanted a carrier pigeon.

Captain - Aquatics Unlimited

Aquatics Unlimited in Zanesville was one of his first business ventures.

   Bill worked for Anchor Hocking Glass for 25 years as an engineering draftsman and mold maker. But the water was calling him and he opened Aquatics Unlimited in Zanesville. Here he designed and built swimming pools and spas, and taught scuba diving.

Captain - Swimming Pool

This swimming pool in Nashville, Tennessee was the last pool he constructed.

   Because of his diving abilities, he was a reserve deputy sheriff in Perry and Muskingum Counties. There he was active doing search and recovery dive team training and rescue missions.

Captain Diving

Giving scuba diving lessons was something Bill truly enjoyed.

   Then he took a vacation and fell in love with the waters of Florida. Soon he moved there, where he owned Knox Bait House Marina. When Bill decides to tackle a project, his persistence has always paid off. Since he had been a commercial diver, he decided to open a scuba diving center where he gave lessons on the Crystal River.

Captain - Manatee

Swimming with the manatee was a favorite Florida pastime.

   He set up a manatee training program at Crystal River because of their abundance at that location. His training program received international recognition. He fell in love with the manatees and enjoyed teaching people how to interact with these large aquatic mammals, who are very friendly when properly treated.

Captain Silver Suit 2

He was honored to wear the Silver Suit of Jacques Cousteau.

   While managing the Port Paradise Dive Center, he was in charge of everything from boat and diving equipment rentals to training divers and giving tours. This is where he was lucky enough to wear one of the famous silver suits of Jacques Cousteau who said, “The best way to observe a fish is to become one.” Bill understood how to do that.

Captain - Video Recorder

Bill still has the underwater video recorder that he used quite often.

   While in Florida, Bill’s life was filled with excitement. He worked at Walt Disney World with the dolphins, was part of the support team for a simulator space capsule with NASA, and directed scuba diving programs at the University of Florida and Bay Point Dive Center.

  There’s a special experience of freedom while diving. The feeling of weightlessness in the water and in the space capsule were pure delights for Bill. One special pleasure was diving to view all the colorful fish, especially at night when some give off a fluorescent glow. “We dive not to escape life but for life not to escape us.”

Captain - Yacht

Sailing his charter yacht Challenge led to many exciting trips in the Caribbean.

   In Florida, he received his captain’s license and took people on cruises from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean. For three years he captained The Challenge, a 52′ charter sailing yacht.

   An old friend from Zanesville, Dorothy Montgomery, pulled some strings and asked him if he would come back and temporarily captain the Lorena. He had never operated a sternwheeler before but decided to accept the challenge. That was fifteen years ago.

Captain and Becky

Bill and his wife, Becky, share a passion for the waterways.

   Since then Captain Bill and his wife “Admiral” Becky, social director on the Lorena, have enjoyed the Muskingum River and the people who ride along with them. They hope to be back on board by the end of May each year.

Lorena Paddlewheel

Today Bill is Captain of the Lorena on the Muskingum River.

   While steering the Lorena, he notices his environment. In the sky, he sees many different birds, eagles and an occasional seagull. In the water, herring and other fish make themselves known but he quipped, “I haven’t seen an alligator, but I’m looking.”

   In his spare time, Bill drives tour buses and school buses for West Muskingum. He fills every hour of the day. If he would have one bit of advice for young people, it would be, “Education. Get it all.”

   Everyone has dreams and Bill is no exception. One dive he would still like to make is off the coast of Australia in the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system.

Captain - Queen of the Lake II

His next project is to direct the restoration of the Queen of the Lake III at Buckeye Lake.

   His next project is fairly close to home as he has been asked to be project manager at Buckeye Lake as they complete the final steps on the restoration of Queen of the Lake III.

Captain at home

The Captain’s home office is filled with nautical memorabilia.

   There’s no doubt that Bill and Becky enjoy life to the fullest these days. Bill enjoys playing keyboard, guitar and accordion but never took a lesson. He’s one of those true musicians that play by ear. Today he’s perfectly happy to just relax in their beautiful home near Zanesville.

   Bill has seen things under the water that most have never seen. Memories float to the surface when he speaks of his adventures.

   “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonders forever.”

~Jacques Cousteau

Buckeye Lake Amusement Park Memories Linger at Buckeye Lake Museum

Buckeye Lake 1950s

This is an overview of Buckeye Lake Amusement Park as it appeared in the 1950s.

Trips to Buckeye Lake Amusement Park can be remembered by many adults today. As children, they would head there with their parents or neighbors for a full day of rides along the lake. Almost everyone took along a picnic lunch.

Buckeye Lake First Cabin

The first cabin built at Buckeye Lake has been restored next to the Buckeye Lake Museum.

   Today the Amusement Park is gone but the memories still remain at the Buckeye Lake Museum in Buckeye Lake. The museum opened its doors in 1998 and is located about a mile west of the original entrance to the amusement park.

Buckeye Lake 1918 Chevy

This 1918 Chevrolet 490 Touring Car brought visitors to the Cranberry Marsh Bass Club.

   Construction of the Ohio & Erie Canal gave a reason for Buckeye Lake to be created in 1826. This original swamp land had been left behind by a retreating glacier thousands of years ago. Buffalo Swamp was dug and dammed to create a source of water for the canal.

Buckeye Lake Swimming Pool

The Crystal Swimming Pool was a gathering place for the entire family.

   When the canal became inactive after the railroads gave a better and faster means of transportation, the state developed Buckeye Lake as a popular resort. With over 3800 acres of water, 35 miles of shoreline and twenty islands, people began flocking to the area. Twenty-one hotels sprang up along the shoreline.

Buckeye Lake Entrance 2

Cars came bumper to bumper through this entrance gate to the park.

   The Ku Klux Klan had rallies at Buckeye Lake in 1923 when 75,000 people attended. Then in 1925, it is said that 500,000 KKK members attended since the Grand Dragon of the five-state area lived in Newark.

Buckeye Lake Dip and Beach

The Dips Roller Coaster, which went over the lake, could be seen from the beach.

   After a few years, the lake seemed like a great place to add an Amusement Park. In 1931, “The Dips” Roller Coaster was built. This was a huge attraction as the roller coaster took passengers out over the lake. The roller coaster lasted until 1958 when a serious accident injured several passengers. It never ran again.

Buckeye Lake Rocket Ride

This was the popular Rocket ride.

   Rides like The Whip, Big Slide, Dodge ’em Cars, Octopus, Wild Mouse and Rocket brought crowds to the lake. Folks enjoyed the taste of their Caramel Corn and Salt Water Taffy, which were shipped all over the country.

Buckeye Lake Rides

Rides were part of the attraction for a visit to the amusement park.

   No wonder it was known as The Playground of Ohio with often 50,000 people in a single day. You could hardly get through the crowds, but still, people patiently waited bumper to bumper and shoulder to shoulder.

Buckeye Lake Skee Ball and Wild Mouse drawing

A popular skee ball game can still be played at the Buckeye Lake Museum.

   Many companies held their annual picnics at Buckeye Lake Amusement Park. Guernsey County residents will recall RCA having picnics at the lake. Admission to the park was free during most of its operation, and later $2 a car. Every Thursday was Family Day when the cost of each ride was five cents for children and eight cents for adults.

Buckeye Lake Taffy

This was the machine that made their famous salt water taffy.

   Their Crystal Ballroom brought quality entertainment to the area. The “Buckeye Lake Waltz” was a popular dance tune. Louie Armstrong, Bob Hope, Sammy Kaye, Guy Lombardo, and Glenn Miller were among the names who appeared at their ballrooms. This was a happening place!

   Big bands also performed at Skateland, which had a 50,000 sq.ft. round floor. It was not unusual to have 2000 skaters there in an evening.

Buckeye Lake Mastodon

A skeleton of a mastodon was found nearby. A cast of its head can be found at the museum.

   The park finally closed in 1970 after an attempt to revive it as a Country Western Theme Park.

  Just four miles down the road, when they were digging to build a golf course, they found the large skeleton of a  mastodon, called the Burning Tree Mastodon, that is the most complete skeleton ever found. It’s estimated to be nearly 12,000 years old. A cast of the head can be found at the museum.

Buckeye Lake today

Today, Buckeye Lake is still a great place for a boat ride, walk or picnic.

   Rides on the lake aboard a sternwheeler were popular even after the amusement park closed. But due to problems with the dam, the water level was not deep enough for the sternwheeler to operate.

Buckeye Lake Queen of the Lake III

Queen of the Lake III sternwheeler is being refurbished for cruises on Buckeye Lake.

   In 2015, a new Queen of the Lake III was donated to the museum by Dr. Ronald and Cindy Downing of Zanesville. This sternwheeler can operate in less than two feet of water so the low level of the water in the lake will not affect it. Right now they are working on refurbishing The Queen of the Lake III into a dinner boat to help raise funds for the museum. Their dream is to have it on the water by late summer.

Buckeye Lake Covered Fountain

This covered fountain in the construction zone is the only piece of the original amusement park that remains.

   The only piece of the amusement park that remains is the fountain, which still stands in the original park’s location at Alexander’s Landing. Perhaps you’ll want to visit there and let your mind wander back to those days of fun and excitement at the Buckeye Lake Amusement Park. You can still take a picnic with you!

Buckeye Lake Museum is located off I-70 at Exit 129. Take OH 79 South aout two and a half miles to 4729 Walnut Road. The museum will be on the left hand side of the road.

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