While most of us are concerned about Global Warming and what it means for the folks who live along the coastal regions of the United States, it wasn’t that long ago (in terms of the time that it took to form our earth) that we had an ice age throughout the Finger Lakes region (about 12,000 years ago) which carved out the beautiful Finger Lakes. But I didn’t realize that Mother Nature was also busy all along the area to the south of the Great Lakes, forming new lakes and waterways.
One example is Conneaut Lake which is located near Meadville, PA, just about 45 minutes to the south of Eire. Conneaut Lake is Pennsylvania’s largest natural lake and home to many who love to live near the water and to boat and fish in the clean waters.
Conneaut Lake was formed by a gigantic ice ball which had picked up a lot of stones and debris in the last ice age, and then melted to form the lake. While the last Ice Age in the Finger Lakes reversed the water flow from the south to the north, Conneaut Lake’s water flow was reversed in the opposite direction from the north to the south and now the flow ends up in the Mississippi River.
We take our modern means of refrigeration for granted but just some 130 years ago in the 1880’s a thriving ice industry started at Conneaut Lake. Ice was sawed from the frozen Lake during the winter months and stored in sawdust in huge warehouses. From the warehouses it was shipped by rail to Pittsburg, Cleveland, and to New York City! Imagine having a nice block of pure ice in the summer time to keep your milk cool and to cool your favorite summer beverage from the clean waters of Conneaut Lake in Pennsylvania! The ice business flourished at Conneaut Lake until the 1920’s when refrigerators became widely available. The last ice was harvested at the Conneaut Ice Company in 1929.
The story of the railroads in the area of Conneaut Lake was repeated throughout the area south of the Great Lakes. First the canals were built, then the railroads (the first railroad came to Conneaut Lake in 1859 and with it came the establishment of the Ice Industry at the Lake). Then in 1892, the railroads began bringing train loads of visitors to the Conneaut Lake Park. (As most of your know, a similar situation played out here at Canandaigua Lake where the railroad brought Sunday visitors to Canandaigua Lake for a steam boat ride on the Lake and an afternoon at Roseland Park.) But due to the development of the automobile and the trucking industry, the last trains went through Conneaut Lake in 1969.
I want to return to Conneaut Lake! It’s a beautiful spot and I hope to return well before the next Ice Age. Oh, and I didn’t say just what year we are going to have Mastodon Burgers on the 4th of July either!