Toboggan Slide

 
The first toboggan slide was built in 1890 or 1891, during the winter months. The Lodges had seen one at Cedar Point on Lake Erie while visiting the famous resort.

The foundation was made by screwing oak tree butts into the lake where it was only two to three feet deep at a point about half way between the steamer landing (which was at the north end of the present boat-house) and the diving table.

This was accomplished by cutting a wooden thread with an axe on the tapered oak post or pile for about three feet up from the point, placing them in position through a hole in the ice and by means of a lever chained on to the post and a sharp shod horse hitched to the outer end of it, then walking the horse around it capstan fashion, while guiding the post with guy ropes attached at the top, ten or even twenty feet above the ice. They could then screw them right down into the, gravel/hard pan (bottom) or clay four to six feet as desired.

Timbers were bolted on to these posts and built a frame tower with posts and braces about ten feet square at the base and seven feet at the top, on which a platform at an elevation of nearly twenty feet and with a hip roof awning for sheltering it.

Three or four descending bends were placed about ten feet apart with the slope towards the diving table. On this structure was placed a built up concave chute on the outer side and a plank cleated runway on the inner side, protected by a hand railing.

The chute was made at an angle of about forty-five degrees and was covered with rubberized fabric. A pitcher pump was installed at the top for pumping water on to the chute to lubricate it. A pail with a rope attached was used for hauling up water for priming the pump. This was necessary because of the height, the pump would not hold its prime long for there was no foot valve. The fabric chute worked fine but had to frequently be patched and was very hard on the seats of the bathing suits. One season was enough for this fabric chute. The following year they tried covering it with sheet copper which worked better and was not quite so hard on the suits, but the hot sun made the copper so hot that it almost burned legs and took more water to cool.

The following season the chute was rebuilt and used wooden rollers, similar to rolling pins and these were fitted with one half inch iron rods through them for axles and mounted about a foot apart the whole length of the chute.

On this new chute regular snow toboggans were used that were purchased from a man in Canton. He formerly ran a toboggan business in Canada. They were four, five, six, and eight feet long with front ends curved up almost to a half circle. They were very well built with cleats screwed on and side rails mounted in brass supports and were finished in natural wood.

The snow toboggans running over turned rollers down on to the water made a wonderful hit and stimulated the bathing business as well as being a fine attraction, which also induced many to go bathing just to ride on them.

The use of the toboggan was free, but the Lodges had to start charging a deposit of .25 cents with each one to assure there return.

There were rules on riding the snow toboggans, but some would go down standing up and when they struck the water they would make all sorts of spills and dives. They literally made the water foam. This great agitation tended to wash or dig out a deep hole near the end of the chute and pile the sand up, back under the structure almost to the surface and it changed the contour of the bottom for rods around.

To correct this and fill up the hole, leveling it off by tying the steamboat to the supporting posts and running the big wheel with the boat at different angles for an hour or two. This not only filled up the hole, but an artificial river was created which washed sediment, muck and mud off into deep water and leave the bottom nice, clean and comparatively level. By this method it kept the shores, the bathing and boat beaches fairly clean.

After a few years the Canadian snow toboggans wore out and the Lodges had new ones built that were stronger and also tore down the old structure and built a new and much larger and higher one with many improvements.

This required unscrewing and removing all the old post and putting in new ones. At the same time they reversed the direction by building the main tower just a few feet south of the inner corner of the diving table with the base of the tower fourteen feet square, elevation of thirty feet with a platform eight feet square and sheltered by a shingle hip roof and the approach was by three flights of stairs starting on the diving table. The chute and planked inclined return runway were correspondingly longer and ran to the Southeast toward the steamboat, while moored at the end of its dock, thus giving over a hundred feet for experts to skim over the water.

This new chute was fitted with over 200 cast iron rollers quite similar to motor pulleys. They were four inches in diameter with a three and one half inch face and ran on one half inch rods for axles. They were mounted four abreast and each set of four were twelve inches apart the entire length of the chute. The rollers were separated by two by four inch strips which the axles also went through and the space between the sets of rolls was filled in with four by eight inch blocks, so that it made a comparatively tight bottom to the chute. The axles were fitted into one inch oak furring strips on each side of the chute and held in place by the plank sides, thus filling the space at the eighteen inch channel, the inside width of the chute.

There was an inclined runway paralleling the chute, made of chestnut planks laid crosswise. These were six inches wide and three feet long and were placed on half inch apart, were left sawed in the rough so that one could easily ascend without slipping.

The incline of the chute was quite steep until within about twelve feet of the water, where it was curved upward somewhat so that the toboggans would level off just before striking the water and thus glide farther. This new toboggan was a huge success.

In 1911, after using it for 16 to 18 years, the spring inspection revealed it to be in such poor condition that it was torn down and all screwed in posts or piles were removed. The Lodges had planned to build a new one but it never came about.

Information obtained from the manuscript entitle "An Historical Anthology of Silver Lake" by William R. Lodge.

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Contents | Bears | Train | General | Indians/River | About Silver Lake | Dedication Speech | Amusement Park | Photo Gallery | Gallery II | Gallery III | Gallery IV | Airport | Lodge Sr. | Geo. Lodge | W.R. Lodge | J. Stow | Wm Wetmore | Steamboats | W.Island | Slide | Swan | School | Incorporation | S.L.Photos | Beautiful S.L. | Eve. Shadows | Genealogy | R.H.Lodge,Jr Obituary | O.E.Lodge,Obituary | Links | Kinsey Collection | Slide Show | Misc Obits |