The first steamboat on Silver Lake was built by Mr. Buel of Stow. This, a very small boat, with boiler and engine,
was placed on the lake about 1854 and it was moored to a dock along the road at the south end of the lake (Kent Rd).
This steamer was not much of a success and few people ever rode in it, and it was soon removed and abandoned.
Early in the summer of 1882, Wm. H. Dailey and Asahel Clapp of Cuyahoga Falls, moved their single hull, side wheel steamboat from the Cuyahoga River, where they had been successfully running it in connection with the Gaylord’s Grove during its boom days of excursion business, of 1879, 1880, and 1881, to Silver Lake, where business was more promising. Silver Lake was just becoming known and was rapidly gaining popularity at this time.
The Cleveland, Mt. Vernon and Delaware Railroad, as it was then known, now the Cleveland, Akron and Columbus Railway, for several years in the early eighties ran a number of excursions. The Grove, where summer picnic conveniences had been provided was very popular for a few years, but like most of such places began to wane, which prompted the moving of the little steamer.
High Bridge Glens (by Prospect St.), also in Cuyahoga Falls was another very popular excursion resort for several years, at about the same time and later, was visited by thousands due to the railroad. Visitors to both resorts flocked in great numbers to Silver Lake as a side trip, paying .25˘ each way for hack service (horse drawn carriage). There were from ten to twenty hacks, mostly two/three seated surreys, but several bandwagons were frequently pressed into service to handle the crowds. It made for great business for many livery stables in the Falls, and also giving Silver Lake a fine start by advertising its beauties and picnic advantages through the northern and central part of the state.
Saloons sprang up about the entrance and the Glens resort but were not kept clean and was soon killed by rowdyism, even though this naturally scenic place was beautiful and had many attractions and sufficient improvements for the public welfare was short lived.
The little steamer "Cora" did quite a business on the river hauling excursionists down the river to the rolling-milling dock as a ferry boat. The slackening of this business in 1881 and the increasing popularity of Silver Lake caused the boat to be moved to the lake in 1882.
Andrew Dailey, building mover, pulled the boat off the river at the nearest point to the road on Wagner’s bend coming diagonally across the Wagner land, about where the Merrell and Chamberlain homes were located in 1943, between the road and the river. It was then moved on rollers up the dusty road (Kent Rd)and launched into the lake near the old Hiram Gaylord watering place on the road at the southwest corner were the easterly line of Mrs. Haglebarger’s Lot #1, now the Village pump house, (Located on Kent Rd, Route 59).
This steamboat was single hull, flat bottom type of river boat with side paddle wheels. It had a pair of horizontal, long stroke on-oars that Mr. Dailey himself, built. The power equipment was ample, but the boat was soon found to be too small for the increasing Silver Lake business.
In the winter of 1882 -’83, Andrew Dailey and Aschel Clapp, through a contract arrangement with Ralph Lodge, for the use of the lake, purchased an 85 acre farm between the C.A.& C. Ry. and Silver Lake and adjoining the little pond, known as Hart’s pond (Crystal Lake), on the south and west. They proceeded to build a new catamaran steamboat. They used white oak cut from trees on the newly acquired farm and taken from the woods (north of the present Village School (Millboro and Bellaire Rd), homes of Richard Lyman, Charles Haas, J.W. Chamberlain, and H.W. Morgan.)
The new keels were laid paralleling the shore with a beam of twenty feet and eighty feet long. The two wooden cigar shaped hulls, eighty feet long were then made and placed about six feet apart in the middle. They were assembled as soon as spring weather would permit, bridged over and then launched sidewise, the upper works being constructed after she was floated. The same engines and boiler were used that were in the river boat, but a large center wheel was placed between the hulls about twelve feet from the stern. This type of boat carried many more passengers, but was more stable and very hard to tip. The"Will Dailey "was in service for fourteen years. It could carry five hundred passengers was not only a ferry boat but made a good pleasure craft. It was frequently used for parties. It was lighted with coal oil open torches on poles and a few years later with the advent of the gasoline torch with the gasoline being shipped in from Cleveland in wooden barrels.
Soon after Andrew Dailey moved his steamboat on to the lake he built quite a large home on his farm. This house was in the woods overlooking the land on what is now Lot 257 (Millboro Rd between Bellaire and Vincent Rd).After Mrs. Dailey passed away in 1891 Ralph Lodge purchased the steamboat and farm. He employed Dailey and his old crew to work the boat for years.
In the spring of 1900 a new single hull steamboat the "Mayflower of 1900". The pleasure trip business did not require as large of steamer as the old " Will Dailey".
On Wednesday , June 13, 1900, the "Will Dailey" was saturated with coal oil and gasoline, dynamite, and fire works and the old derelict that had given seventeen years of fine service was achorned in the middle of the lake and blown up. A thunder storm hit and prevented this from being much of a success so they gave up and the next night continued the show until the boat burned to the water’s edge. Only about six inches of the sides above the bottoms remained and those thin hulks are still lying in about thirty feet of water, were they sank.
All machinery and iron was removed and disposed of. Some thirty feet long, eight inch I beams out of the old boat were used to stiffen and strengthen the new one. White oak lumber from the same woods that the logs for old boat came from, seventeen years before.
The "Mayflower of 1900" was launched. The second miniature locomotive, was built. This followed the summer of 1903 on the steamer "Mayflower of 1900", The Mayflower was operated for ten years, but after a few years she was called "The Silver Queen".
In 1910 the "Mayflower" was beached and the new "Chautauqua" was built. They sold the engines, propeller, and boiler out of "Silver Queen" or "Mayflower". There was little else that could be salvaged.
The "Chautauquan" hulls, two eighty-five feet long steel cigar shaped water and air tight compartment hulls were ordered built by the American Shipbuilding Company of Cleveland in their Lorain Yards. The hulls were shipped with two flat cars pivoted under each hull. They were placed side by side about eight feet apart, on the lake front, and with hot rivets, thoroughly joined and braced them together, launched the new boat and then built the upper decks of wood. She was equipped with a new upright boiler and large long stroke, river boat engines that were purchased in Pittsburgh.
This boat with double decks and Pilot house above had a beam of twenty feet and a carrying capacity of 600 people but the Park limited her to 500, which load she very frequently carry, especially when the Goodrich and other big rubber companies chartered her for their picnics every summer.
To view a full photo of the "Chautauquan" go to PHOTO GALLERY.
A brass band was employed to play in the afternoons and evenings and to meet the trains and march in with the excursionists in the mornings. It had its own lighting systems, engines and generators and was nicely illuminated at night with red, white, blue, and green electric bulbs, so that the boat with the reflections of these colored lights in the water made a beautiful spectacle from the shores. The "Chautauqua" ran for eight years until the entire park and lake was sold after the season of 1917.
The boat was torn down and moved by Frank Baker, mover, to Springfield Lake in 1918. The steamer was sold to A.A. Anschutz of Cleveland, who had spent his summers at Silver Lake with his wife, for many years and thought so much of the boat that he purchased it and also secured Captain Frank Morgan to operate it for him at the new location.
The new location did not prove profitable and after two or three years was abandoned. The last time anyone saw it, it had been taken apart and one of the hulls was being used as a dock near Bawyerwood.
It was a real pleasure for William Lodge to have the experience of planning, purchasing the materials and equipment and superintending the building of the
last two named steamboats as well as to manage them along with over forty park departments during those many years.
Now that it is nearly 30 years in the past, each summer the old park employees had a reunion day and picnic where they met some of those old steamboat engineers,
pilots, and many of the musicians that played on the boats and had happy times reminiscing together.