Willisle Island


There was no island on the lake until the winter of 1904 - 1905. A sand bar of about 70 feet by 100 feet was just two feet under water and near the center of the lake. Pilings were dug for the construction of the island, and it was discovered that the sand bar was chiefly solid blue clay.

Oxen were used during the winter to haul logs to the edge of the lake. They were then loaded on a 36 foot electric launch and were taken out to the sandbar. The logs were then arranged in an irregular pattern so the island would look as if it were a part of nature and not something manmade.

A lagoon was built on the east side to harbor about 12 boats. Railroad ties from the abandoned rails to Randolph Park were used to build the island. A portion of the east shore of Silver Lake was dynamited and the rich soil was used to cover the island. It was a cold winter and thick ice had formed which made it easy for sharp-shod horses to pull the soil to the island. One of the nearby lake springs was fitted with a galvanized pipe giving fresh drinking water to those who visited the island.

To keep the natural look, 13 trees were planted on the island. The trees were dug up and horses dragged them across the ice. One tree was a soft maple that was 47 feet tall and had a trunk diameter of 13 inches. Another was an elm tree that was 36 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 9 inches. Smaller sycamore and willows were also planted. The planting occurred in February. Local farmers said the trees would never grow. The trees flourished A woodchuck was imported to the island to keep the clover mowed. Soon chipmunks and muskrats joined the woodchuck.

In 1906 the old peanut stand with the octagonal tower, hipped roof and flag pole was moved to the island to be used as a picnic shelter. The peanut stand was two stories high and some employees enjoyed using the second story as a quiet, breezy dormitory.

Lightning struck the peanut standís flag pole one summer evening and firefighters from the Park hurried to the island in rowboats and the electric lunch. Leon Bloch, the candy make, saw the fire and raced to help. He became very excited and grabbed two buckets, loaded them with water, put them in a row boat, and rowed out to the island. By the time he arrived with his heavy load of water the fire was out. It was decided that Mr. Bloch was a far better candy maker than he was a fireman.

The old peanut stand building was on the island for 5 years before it was moved again and used as a ticket office and custodianís living quarters.

Mrs. Lodge named the island Willisle in honor of the man who built it, her husband. William Lodge.

Information obtained from the manuscript entitled "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 |