THE HISTORY OF GRAND LAKE
Grand Lake, the favorite spot for thousands of vacationists from Ohio and neighboring states, came into being as a reservoir to supply water for the Miami and Erie canal. It was started in 1837 and completed in 1845 at a cost of approximately $600,000. The 17,500 acre reservoir was for many years the largest artificial body of water in the world,* until the building of Hoover Dam.
Approximately 1,700 men were employed in constructing the east and west banks. Their wages amounted to 30 cents a day plus one jigger of whiskey. The days work was from sunrise to sunset. The workmen lived in shanties while they worked on the lake, but many of them remained after to take up farm land in this area.
The completion of the canal and its feed-reservoir made a vast difference in living costs. Freight rates dropped from $1.00 for hauling a bushel of wheat to 15 cents for hauling a ton of wheat 100 miles. The canal did a thriving business until it was supplanted by the railways.
Packet boats used to come up the canal, follow the canal feeder to the East Bank Bulkhead where they entered the lake, then crossed from the East Bank to the West Bank, making deliveries of passengers and supplies to Celina from Cincinnati or Toledo.
The lake was no longer needed to feed the canal, but had gained growing popularity among recreationists and sportsmen, by 1915, when the General Assembly of the State of Ohio passed an act through which this body of water and adjacent lands owned by the State were dedicated and set apart forever for the use of the public, as public parks or pleasure resorts.
Since that time the State of Ohio has spent many thousands of dollars in the development of the state parks at the lake, providing for public recreation. Private investors have spent many more thousands to provide for amusement and relaxation so that today the lake has much to offer those who seek to get away for a day, a week, a month, or longer.
Good fishing opens early in the spring, and continues until late in the fall. Crappies, catfish, and bass are numerous with bluegills and perch in fewer number.
The lake has 52 miles of shore line, much of which is readily accessible to the public. It is approximately nine miles long and three miles wide.
Black water pools, have been built within the last few years in the state parks, so that fisherman find these pools waiting for them with good fishing when the lake is too rough.
There are roadways following the lake shore line, offering plenty of spots for scenic pleasure. Audubon followers can find bird life galore along the shore line. Natural sand beaches are popular with bathers.
Boaters will find well-marked channels for their outboard motors. These lanes go from one end of the lake to the other with leads to channel landings.
Old-timers about Grand Lake recall when fish were taken out of it by the barrels for sale commercially. They were shipped up and down the canal. Today fish are no longer caught by the barrels-full, but there are some splendid catches.
During the oil boom in this area, in the 1890s, many oil wells were drilled in Grand Lake and were among the best producers. All of these were abandoned and plugged some years ago. Today, a large rock pile has been built on the place where the last derrick stood serving
as a reminder of the days when derricks studded the wide expanse of water.
*Grand Lake is 8.2 miles (43,360′) long and 3.1 miles wide. Due to the parkland filled in on the east and west ends of the lake, the lake now covers 13,500 acres instead of 17,500 it originally covered.