In 1902 the Lodge family decided to add an outfit
to the amusement equipment, a Miniature Railroad, built by the Armitage-Herschell Co.of
Niagara Falls, N.Y.. An engine, tender, and three passenger cars were purchased
for $1,050 for the locomotive and $75.00 for each of the cars. The engine weighed
1050 pounds, so we paid just $1.00 per pound for it.
A rolling mill, The Ohio Steel Company, in the north east section of Cuyahoga Falls along the old Pennsylvania and Ohio canal between the B.&O.R.R. and Pennsylvania Railroad tracks, a short distance south of east Bailey Road, manufactured miniature rails. They purchased sufficient 16 lb rails, switches, frogs, etc. at $42.00 per ton and built our first miniature railroad.
The railroad started with a loop just south of the first or northerly half of the big pavilion, which was built in 1898, this being the present parking grounds space in the rear of the boat house and south of the tower foundations. The switch and frog for this loop being located near the lake shore close to where the dock extends out into the lake.
The track then ran along close to the lake, down by the old log-cabin which was on the later site of the Aquarium, then passed the shooting gallery, the stone ice-house building, (which later became the mountain lions' cage), then the monkey cage, the wolf's, raccoons, badger, foxes, eagle, hawks, and owl cage, and the bear pits, (which are still, at this writing, located near the Drbal home near the Silver Lake Blvd Entrance off of Rt 59). After passing all of these menagerie cages it followed along the lake, passed the "Linwood" log-cabin, which was just below Mrs. Lillian Lodge Habelbarger's house (which was not built until 1903), where another loop was made near the road, at the south end of Mrs. Hagelbarger's lawn and flower gardens. This first track made a delightful ride along the shore and gave many people who rode the trains a glimpse of the animals in the little zoo, that they otherwise might not know of and thus helped to popularize the menagerie.
The miniature railroad in this first location, however, did not pay as well as it should have because it was too isolated from the crowd. The following year a new track was laid with an extended circuitous route. This made about twice as long a ride and proved to be popular. Throughout the years the location was changed. It was during the second summer the engine began giving trouble and had to be continually repaired.
Frank Jones, a genius and a splendid machinist plus being a clock builder from Cuyahoga Falls, was
then spending his summers as engineer on the steamboat. He gave valuable assistance in repeated
locomotive repairs of parts. It was decided that this dollar per pound engine was made to sell and not to use.
Sammy Wise, a little dwarf from Loudonville, Ohio was employed as the first conductor on this new railroad. Sammy was 48 inches tall, and about 28 year old when he came to Silver Lake. He was well proportioned, pompous, attractive little fellow, and very popular with the campers and park attendants. When he was dressed in his uniform with his shining nickled lard-oil lantern on his left arm and his ticket punch in his right, with a smile on his face, he was an appropriate and attractive little conductor.
Sammy thought a lot of his train and his position. He was a hail fellow, well met throughout the park and a special favorite of the employees. He worked on this train for several summers continuing until his death at his home about the winter of 1906-1907.
George was very interested in the train that he, Frank Jones, and Sammy Wise worked for months in 1903 building a new locomotive. The boiler was built by the Biggs Boiler Works Company in Akron. In 1904 George built even a more powerful locomotive, and since Frank Jones had passed away, George alone completed this larger and improved engine, all in their own work shop. He also built five new cars so they could run two, four car trains.
The season of 1917 was the last summer the park was operated but the miniature engines and trains continued to be attractive and busy outfits. After the sale of the park the general equipment and the trains remained unsold.
Unable to sell the equipment, William bought them for $1,000.00 and stored the locomotive etc on his farm. After a few years sold the engine and cars to the Buckeye Lake Park Co. in Licking County, Ohio. They ran the trains for several summers then sold them to a park company near Toledo.
William's brother Louis B. Lodge saw the original engines that were built by George, with his brass name plates still on them in 1933 running along
the Maumee at Toledo and it has been stated that in 1944 they were still in operation.
Photo printed in the Akron Beacon Journal, October 14, 1979. Courtesy of Myrtle Ross, resident of Silver Lake.