History of Lake Wabaunsee
Part 1 1929 - 1933
Preliminary Survey in 1929
In the early stages of the development of Lake Wabaunsee, it was known as the Mill Creek Lake Site. The site had been shown to members of the State Fish & Game commission in 1928 by local boosters, but the Commission had no funds to purchase land and were developing only on donated lands. However, the local group, accompanied by John Martin, who lived in Eskridge and then an attorney for the commission, prevailed upon the Commission to make a preliminary survey.
The preliminary survey was made in 1929 by J.R.Davis who reported the proposed site as "a lake of practically pure spring water, 150 acres or more in extent and the water near the dam 50 feet deep, can be made on the upper waters of Mill Creek in District 17, near the Kraus School House. The Dam would be approximately 1200 feet in length and about 60 feet deep in the bed of the creek". (The foundation of the Kraus School House is located at 315 Lake Shore Dr)
Davis ran lines entirely around the shore line, tested the soil which he found ideal for retaining water and recommended an earthwork dam, rip rapped with clay and rock. He reported to the commission "this site was the equal or superior to any lake site he had seen in Kansas so far".
While in Eskridge, Davis was a guest of the Eskridge Chamber of commerce and was accompanied on a tour of the site by John Martin, Roy Mudge, Frank Frost, Crow Shumate, George Lockhart, A.B.Haubold and others. In an effort to gain support for the lake, the Eskridge Chamber of Commerce sponsored a chicken dinner on Wednesday, September 18, 1929. Delegates were sent from the counties of Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Osage, Riley, Pottawatomie, Morris and Lyon. Some of those attending were:
Topeka: John Waters, Louis Hall, Earl Brown, A.J.Carruth, Milton Tabor, M.W.Jencks, Ralph Baer, L.C.Rahn, F.C.Gibbs, George W. Stansfield and W.H.Dickie.
Emporia: W.A.White, O.M.Wilhite, H.W.Glass, F.O.Stone, O.A.Korkendall, Whit Douglass, H.P.Norton, C.A.Bishop.
Manhattan: Dan Casement, E.A.Wharton, G.M.Breese, H.L.Wylie, B.W.Smith.
Alma: O.W.Little, A.E.Stuewe, A.C.Hunter, C.B.Henderson, I.A.Robertson, Frank Schmidt.
Burlingame: H.T.Stoddard, C.S.Carey, Bert R.Tanner, E.G.Spalding, M.G.Welliver, C.D.Beverly, J.H.Thew.
Harveyville: J.C.Gebhart, Louis Tomlinson, C.H.Houseworth.
Allen: H.A.Wilson, Ira Stonebraker, R.R.Mounkes, C.B.Taylor.
Junction City: E.O.Stephens.
Kansas City: Clyde Kauffman.
Maple Hill: A.N.Winkler
The meeting was presided over by Bill Montgomery, President of the Eskridge Chamber of Commerce and speakers for the occasion were John E. Martin and Frank P. Frost.
POLITICS IN 1930-31
About the time the lake appeared to have the support of community leaders in several surrounding counties, politics was blamed for a complete setback. Just prior to the August primaries of 1930, Governor Clyde M. Reed stated that, "it would not be expedient to bring the matter up at this time". He was backed up in this opinion by Alf F. Landon, chairman of the Republican State Central Committee. Both Frank Pinet, chairman of the Fish and Game Commission and Dick Lee, a member, and a former Eskridge resident, had promised to approve the lake when it came up before the Commission, but Reed’s pressure prevented consideration.
Immediately, Frank Frost swung the support of his paper, The Eskridge Independent, from Reed to Frank "Chief" Haucke, of Council Grove, for the Republican nomination for Governor. Haucke carried Eskridge and Alma, but was defeated in the general election by Harry H. Woodring, a Democrat.
Shortly after the primary, the State Fish and Game Commission met and voted for a lake at Onaga. Frost contended that Pinet and Lee switched their allegiance on orders from Reed. Later on the Pottawatomie county lake project was abandoned and approval given for a state lake in Lyon county. The Wabaunsee project seemed doomed again, and for the next year or so, nothing of importance happened although a faithful few kept their vigilance.
REVIVAL OF INTEREST IN 1932
Persistent efforts of a few optimistic boosters began to take life again in 1932 after a couple of years of disappointment. Frank Pinet resigned as vice-chairman of the State Fish and Game Commission, and Dick Lee was replaced by Governor Woodring.
Writing in the Independent on March 17, 1932, Frank Frost said: "Heretofore we have never had occasion to indulge in any special commendation of the acts of Governor Woodring. Being on the other side of the political fence, we have not intruded at the state house on any of the governor’s meditations. But in ridding the Fish and Game Commission of Dick Lee, former Eskridge man who sold his birthplace for a mess of Clyde Reed pottage, Gov. Woodring is entitled to a unanimous vote of thanks of this community and Wabaunsee County."
On December 1, 1932, the paper said, "Bill Montgomery, of Eskridge, perfectly aware of what a splendid asset a state fish lake would have been to Eskridge, had we gotten it, still thinks about what might have been and is still hopeful. He grows somewhat optimistic in the following communication to the Independent:
(Letter quoted in part): "Now, it seems to me there is a way by which we can still get this lake and make it pay besides, and that is by our building it ourselves, and using that great reservoir of water for our waterworks system. It is not a great distance to pipe water and it would be an unfailing supply. Stock the lake with fish and sell fishing permits; also duck hunting permits; rent to private individuals a concession for a bathing beach with boats.
"The building of the lake would provide work for local unemployed and if done now, when commodity prices are so low, could be done for an astonishingly low figure. If this lake could be built in five years, thousands would come here to fish, hunt and camp out. Scores, perhaps hundreds, would buy sits for cabins around the lake and spend weeks there every season. Our accessibility to Topeka and Emporia would lend support to this project."
(Bill Montgomery worked at the Mudge Store in Eskridge, but left in August, 1933 to enter the insurance business with Pacific Mutual.)
A YEAR OF ACTION -- 1933
By June 29, 1933, interest in Lake Wabaunsee was regenerated by a new group of boosters joining the ranks of those who had been fighting and losing up to this time. But now there was a strong surge of sentiment, given a transfusion by the advent of public funds being made available to alleviate the hardships brought on by the great economic depression. Local proponents of the lake regrouped and were poised and ready to make hay when the government’s financial sun began to shine.
The County Engineer, B.C. Painter, had been investigating the site of such long controversy, and told the Alma Chamber of Commerce that he believed it would be possible to construct the lake at this time. It was also indicated that the County Commissioners now would support the lake project.
Interest shifted into high gear in just a few days. On Monday, July 3, 1933, a petition signed by 122 citizens of Eskridge was presented to the City Council, asking for an investigation of the possibility of securing a waterworks and sewage system for the city.
A joint committee, three members of the city council and three members of the Chamber of Commerce was appointed to look into the matter. Mayor Shumate appointed Ivan Conrad, A.E. Peoples and R.C.Day. Jack Waugh, president of the Eskridge Chamber of Commerce appointed Frank Frost, Preston Dunn and Dr. H.G. Pratt.
It was planned to finance the project with help of federal aid money which had recently been made available to congress. A refund of 30 percent on an approved project would provide $25,000 of the cost with the remainder to be paid by long-term, self-liquidating bonds. Congress had recently allotted $17,000,000 to Kansas for public works construction funds. There was also the possibility that federal aid might be secured to finance the entire project.
On July 27, 1933, the Eskridge Independent carried this headline: "Fish Lake Project is Revived and Chances Are Better Than Ever." The story opinioned that the "movement for a state lake in Wabaunsee County, dropped when it became a political football, crystallized in rapid action during the past week."
A joint meeting of citizens from Eskridge and Alma was held with those from Eskridge: Dr. C.W. Walker, Dr. F.C.Stewart, Dr. H.G.Pratt, W.K.Waugh, Jack Waugh, Bill Robertson, W.C.Shumate, C.R.Moore, B.C.Taylor, R.C. Day and Frank Frost.
Arch Robertson, president of the Alma Commercial Club presided and a motion was carried to appoint a joint committee of two each from Alma and Eskridge to proceed. Alma named Jerry Fields and O.W. Little. Eskridge named Frank Frost and Crow Shumate.
These men went to Topeka the following day seeking information and interviewed Geo.S.Knapp, chief engineer Division of Water Resources, State Department of Agriculture; Governor Alf M.Landon, Mr Eidman, design engineer for the state highway commission and George A.Clark, former chairman of the State Fish and Game Commission and "father" of the state lake system. All were in favor of obtaining a lake for Wabaunsee County and pledged support.
Governor Landon advised the committee that there were four ways to obtain aid: flood control, unemployment relief, state highway commission with funds supplemented by the State Fish and Game Commission and the reforestation project.
It was believed by the governor that the best possibility for immediate action was in the reforestation project and he sent a letter to Giles Atherton of ElDorado, chairman of the State Fish and Game Commission, asking him to put in an application to Washington immediately for a conservation camp to work on the lake.
In a reforestation project, the United States Government established Civilian Conservation Camps, which engaged in building dams for lakes, cleaning and clearing lake beds and building roadways around the waterline, etc. It was also pointed out by Governor Landon that it might be necessary to finance a right-of-way for the lake and donate it to the state, since the Fish and Game Commission had no funds to buy lake sites.
On Monday night, August 21, 1933 a meeting of county residents was held in the high school to hear details of a proposition to build a state lake and recreation park on what was known as the Kraus property, five miles northwest of Eskridge.
Giles Atherton stated that he expected to get aid from the federal government in the form of a Civilian Conservation Camp if the state was given a clear title to the land needed.
Various methods of raising the money to buy the land were discussed but the one which found the most favor was for a holding company to save out enough land around the lake to provide cabin sites, within 100 feet of the water and to sell these at $100 each. The state required 100 feet back from the high water line for public purposes, including a roadway clear around the lake.
Jack Waugh, chairman of the meeting, named Dr. C.W.Walker, Dr. F.C.Stewart and Frank Frost as a committee to finance the project according to the plan. Negotiating with the owners of the land for a price on it were the county commissioners, O.W.Little and J.B.Fields of Alma and Frank Frost and W.C.Shumate of Eskridge. Named to the committee on the sale of sites were Dr.C.L.Youngman, Dr. L.M.Hodgson of Harveyville and I.A.Robertson, O.W.Little and Ray Krutsinger of Alma.
The first residents who pledged to buy lots to finance the project were:
Dr.C.W.Walker W.C.Shumate Oscar Warren Dr. F.C.Stewart Frank P Frost
R.C.Day John E.Martin John Meeker J.F.McKee J.H.Stephenson
W.T.Eckles W.K.Waugh Dr.H.G.Pratt Roy M. Mudge W.H.Robertson
Carl R. Moore C.L.Rissler J.Y.Waugh Ivan Conrad S.E.Guthrie
Elmer Bundy A.Samuels Dr. R.R.Humphrey R.J.Lockhart Clayton Trivett
Preston Dunn Cloise Meeker Marshall Harkness F.O.Stark L.R.Kraus
Mrs. Perle Parmiter Dr.J.W.Cook J.H.Dunn, Jr W.H.Duff Alma Johnson
Melvin Tucker Will Butefish Ed Chapman of the Toeka State Journal and a speaker at the meeting also pledged to buy a lot.
The deadline for an answer to the proposition was set for September 1, but an extensin to September 15 was granted. By August 31, 1933, the pledges for the lake were over 100, or the equivalent of $10,000. The lake site cost was estimated to be about $15,000.
On the next appeal for lot sales, the following persons pledged to buy:
T.W.Wilson Eugene Martin Roy Robertson Vern L McCoy Day Brothers
L.E.Mahon L.W.Schiesser Kansas Power and Light by G.H.Willard Emil F Anderson
Walter H. Sorrick Clinton L.Scott Judah Mix N.E.Watson A.J.Wright
Oscar Warren F.C.Stewart George C.Cook E.E.Simmons C.H.Zinn
G. Snoddy H.N.Griggs Carl Harrold Beverly T Young Allen Gibby
J.W.Austin Harry Mossman V.G.Newell Everett Peterson Carl Belt
H.E.Rice Ralph Bozarth A.B.Haubold J.H.Wittemore W.R.Logan
F.D.Tendell K.M.Lockhart Roy B.Shaw A.H.Richter R.R.Stucky
By September 7, Eskridge had 84 contracts signed, Alma over 24 and Harveyville 3. Additional pledges of 72 from Topeka and one from Emporia brought the total to 184.
On September 15, 1933, the state lake and recreation park in Wabaunsee County was officially adopted as a project by the State Forestry, Fish and Game Commission. The project was adopted on the basis of deeds to be given the state for the land required in the bed of the lake, 204 acres, together with a 100 foot strip around the water’s edge for road purposes and additional land as required for the development of the project.
A meeting was held on September 19 for the purpose of forming an organization and having it incorporated under the laws of Kansas. Nearly 100 attended this meeting in the Odd Fellows Hall with LaRue Moreland, a member of the committee on incorporation presiding. Dr. C.W.Walker was named chairman and O.W.Little of Alma, secretary. Frank Frost was elected President and Jack Waugh of the Security Bank of Eskridge, secretary-treasurer. Named to the board of directors of the corporation were Hal G.Weaver, Judge C.E.Carroll and A.E.Stuewe of Alma; R.C.Day, W.C.Shumate, Frank Frost and Jack Waugh, Eskridge; Charles H. Sessions, managing editor of the Topeka Daily Capital and Ed.B.Chapman of the Topeka State Journal.
The name of Lake Wabaunsee was adopted for the organization and the membership limited to 250 with voting rights in the organization. The corporation was chartered on Thursday, September 21, 1933 by the Secretary of State.
Later in October, word was received that the Department of Emergency Conservation Work had definitely discarded approval of the Lake project because the title to the land required was not in the name of the state. The title had been held in escrow pending approval of the project. Although Governor Landon personally guaranteed the title would be in the name of the state, the DEC scrapped the project.
Plans then formed to use transient unemployed. George G Bunger, an official of Home Owners Loan Corporation, a former resident of Eskridge, introduced a delegation to Marvin and G.F.Price of Topeka, officers of a state department having to do with the relief of transient unemployed. Upon inspection of the lake site these two men expressed themselves as delighted with the site and said it would be ideal for their purposes. They then asked and received authority to take the matter up with the state for a transit unemployed camp with the same setup as the state had with the CCC.
On November 2, 1933 a telegram was sent to Frank Frost by Randolph Carpenter, Congressman for the Fourth Congressional District of Kansas, advising him that Maurice Lewis, director of transient relief activities of the Federal Emergency Administration had directed John G.Stutz, at Topeka, to proceed on the Lake Wabaunsee project.
The state was obligated to furnish the money for machinery and equipment and a meeting was held in Topeka with Governor Landon to discuss methods of obtaining money so work could be started at once.
In the week following, authority was received from Washington for the directors of the transient unemployment relief fund to expend the necessary money for hand tools, such as saws, spades, shovels, etc. To be used by the men employed on the lake site, thus settling the matter of financing for equipment.
Recruiting headquarters for men for this work was set up in Topeka and it was expected that an advance crew of 15 men would be sent immediately to get the camp ready for the reception of at least 200 men. This camp was the first of its kind to be set up in the state. The camp was under the rules and regulations of the State Health Department.
Governor Landon had applied for a loan of $200,000 from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to be used in financing additional state projects. The loan was to be repaid so much a year out of the earnings of the Fish and Game Department. Part of this money would be allotted to the Lake Wabaunsee project.
A meeting was held in Topeka on November 23, 1933 With Governor Alf M. Landon, Mr. Price, Mr. Marvin, Mr. Stutz, Mr. Atherton and the Lake Wabaunsee Board of Directors at which time the deeds to the property required to start the lake were discussed.
R.R.Roby, an engineer employed by the State Fish and Game Commission was sent in to supervise the project. The federal government was to feed, clothe and shelter the men and provide hand tools. The state was to supply engineering and other technical men, sand, cement, concrete and steel in whatever quantity required.
Building the bunkhouses, dining and recreation halls, was in the charge of George Rinner, Topeka, building contractor assisted by 20
carpenters. It was expected that the full complement of 200 to 275 men would be at work as soon as quarters were completed.
History of Lake Wabaunsee
Part 2: 1934 - 1937
Construction Started - 1934
The year 1934 began with some workers on the job and construction was under way. G.F.Price, Topeka, came as director of the transient camp and had things ready for occupancy by January 15. P.N.Rees was purchasing agent for the camp and R.R.Roby was resident engineer. Dr.C.W.Walker was camp doctor. Fay Marvin was supervisor of unemployment relief in Kansas. Captain Fred Nelson was camp director until August 1. 1934 when he left to teach school in Nebraska and was replaces by B.E George of Wichita.
John G. Stutz was head of the unemployment bureau for the state which became the Kansas Emergency Relief Corporation. Dr. Pratt and Dr. Humphrey were camp dentists; Preston Dunn was in charge of the commissary store; Edward Paskal was in charge of maintenance and equipment; Albert Langworth was chief clerk and works director and Frank Brown was head chef.
One of the first projects was to drill for water, but in doing so, Homer Orcutt, the driller, brought in a small natural gas well on Tuesday, January 9 which is understood to have been somewhere just east of the present "lodge" building. A shoe shop and a barber shop was set up for the benefit of the workers and run by the transients themselves.
In February, 1934, the State Fish and Game Commission was empowered to borrow $200,000 from the Federal Public Works Administration for lake projects, to be repaid with the 20% portion of its fees now being turned over to the state general fund.
In February, the state authorized Camp Director G.F.Price to build a home for the caretaker and George Rinner was awarded the contract. This house was to be occupied by B.E.George, Commandant, until the lake was completed and turned over to the state.
Wilson Engineering Co., of Salina surveyed the lake to determine cabin sites and completed the map in March 1934, showing 604 lots of various sizes, most of them approximately 50 x 100 feet. All land in the lake bed and a strip 100 feet back from the lake at the high water mark was to be deeded to the state. The 100 foot strip to be used as a public road. Adjoining the public road, cabin sites were laid out to be sold to finance the purchase of the land.
E.H.Regnier, of Spearville, joined the project as case worker and recreational director, assisted by Eddie Halpin.
In order to speed up work an effort was made through John G. Stutz, executive director of the Kansas Emergency Relief Commission, to make the project a federal water conservation reservoir, with the City of Eskridge or the county joining with the transient service in making it a direct work relief project. R.R.Roby was replaces by J.M.Brink as resident engineer in December, 1934.
CONSTRUCTION PROGRESSING - 1935
A dinner celebrating the first anniversary of the Lake Association and toasting to the progress that had been made during the first year of construction was held Friday evening, February 7, 1935. An invitational affair for stockholders and others who had been active in the administration of the work, gathered with Governor Alf M. Landon as the honored guest. The officers reported that 156 cabin sites had been paid for with Eskridge residents possessing 58, Topeka 60; Alma 24; Harveyville 5 and all others 9.
Fay Marvin, state supervisor of relief, announced at the dinner that heavy machinery and equipment suitable for building the dam would be sent here shortly. The camp would then employ 250 men. Twenty-five portable bunkhouses were to be brought in, each accommodating six men and construction to be started on an additional dining hall.
A nine hole golf course was being built, part on state property and part on property owned by the Lake Wabaunsee corporation, to be operated by the corporation. Dr. H.G.Pratt was to manage the club, assisted by Bill Robertson, local manager of the Standard Oil station. The course was to be officially opened April 25.
The heavy machinery arrived in March, with R.R.Roby returning as general supervisor; George Marsh, engineer for KERC and George Rinner in charge of woodwork. Work on the dam began in April.
The Lake Corporation stockholders met July 15 and elected officers as follows: Frank Frost, president, and Jack Waugh, secretary-treasurer. Board of Directors" Crow Shumate, R.C.Day, and Dr. C.W.Walker, all of Eskridge; Judge C.E.Carroll, Albert Stuewe and O.W.Little, all of Alma; C.H.Houseworth and Sr. L.M.Tomlinson, of Harveyville; Charles Sessions and G.L.Jordan, of Topeka.
The first golf tournament was held at the lake Sunday, July 28 with Parker Warren winning the championship of the men’s group and Mrs. Lora Core, Women’s champion.
In August, work was halted with KREC being dissolved and efforts being made to continue with WPA sponsorship. All the houses from projects at Howard and Sedan, Kansas, were moved here, making about 60 houses capable of housing 300 men. Col. Charles Fisher and family were living in the caretaker’s house and Fred Mills continued to be commandant of the camp. George Bunger had resigned to operate a sales pavilion in North Topeka.
Administration Changes -- 1936
In January, 1936, a complete project report was made showing that the lake was 14.7% completed and had cost the government $163,725.19 to date. KERC had turned the project over to the Work’s Progress Administration.
John Brink, engineer for WPA was placed in direct charge of lake negotiations and reported that there would be no purpose in starting work under WPA at this time with bad weather at hand and with funds to operate only until March 1. He recommended that the project close down and wait for a CCC camp to take over which was favored by the Fish and Game Commission also.
By administrative ruling from Washington, KERC was taken out of the picture and bills were paid by WPA administrator for Kansas lakes, making it possible for work to proceed a Lake Wabaunsee. No assurance was given that WPA would be able to complete the project, but Griffith issued instructions that any work done must be such that it contributes to the completed structure.
There were 160 transients employed at the camp at this time, but Mr. Brink stated "Uncertainties concerning the transient program probably will necessitate the use of other agencies such as CCC to complete the project and you may be assured of this agency giving you every possible assistance toward that end."
J.J.Marshall, works superintendent for WPA, announced that transients would be paid WPA wages of $32.00 a month for unskilled; $37.00 for semi-skilled and $42.00 for skilled. Under the transient program they were paid $1 to $3 a week.
In March, 1936, orders were received by engineers for "full speed ahead". Flood lights were installed at the dam site to permit work around the clock. More men were called for, possibly up to the 400 capacity of the accommodations. John Brink, deputy administrator for WPA in Kansas, predicted that the dam would be completed by July 1 and the gates closed for water impoundment.
On May 7, announcement was made that the Fourth District Editorial Association would hold its fall meeting here at the lake in September. Over 100 editors and families would be entertained by the officers of the Lake Wabaunsee Association and officers of WPA, with golf in the morning, lunch at noon and a dinner and program in the evening, featuring Senator Arthur Capper, Evan Griffith and John Brink of WPA. However, the meeting was rained out and moved to another location.
In June 1936, the dam was reported one-third finished and the spillway almost completed. On July 29, George S.Knapp, state engineer was called in by the Fish and Game Commission to inspect the dam and park. He found that a large part of the dam must be rebuilt because the clay used was not sufficiently packed.
Knapp wrote, "On July 23 it was decided between our office and WPA engineers that a strip 130 feet wide, 70 feet on the upstream side and 60 feet on the down-stream side of the center line, should be removed down to the original ground line and replaced with suitable material sufficiently sprinkled and rolled to produce the required degree of compaction and imperviousness.
"The building of embankment on this project has, therefore, ceased temporarily but work is actively under way in the cutoff trench and the puddle core and without doubt the work noted above will be undertaken at once and the construction pushed diligently to completion."
By September, Jess Marshall, work superintendent on the dam, had three shifts of 185 men at work. Part of the dam had been torn out and rebuild and rock facing had started on the front and back of the embankment.
A.B.Nuss, chief engineer of WPA projects, inspected the dam in November as it neared completion. It was decided that the dam should be built five feet higher than original plans called for and the change was ordered. The change called for the purchase of about $2,000 more land, but the Lake Association said they had no funds for the additional purchase. It is not clear how this financing was accomplished, but it was apparently worked out between the State Fish and Game Commission and WPA.
By raising the dam, it could be built up to a point where the natural rock formation would serve as the bottom of the spillway, thus saving $10,000 to $15,000 in other construction costs. Earthwork on the dam was completed December 31, 1936.
Upon completing of the dam and spillway it was planned that the men now employed would be retained to work on roads, landscaping, building shelter houses, beautifying public grounds and otherwise making the state a handsome park. The camp would be kept intact until this entire plan was completed.
On the night of December 5, 1936, the stone caretaker’s house, which was occupied by Col. And Mrs. C.F.Fisher and daughter Annabell, whet up in flames. The family lost all household furnishings, clothing and personal belongings. Their little dog "Skippy" perished in the fire. The Eskridge fire department was called and helped the men at the camp fight the flames but the house and contents were a total loss.
Although the dam was practically completed the control valve remained open, letting out the overflow from spring water.
Works superintendent Jess Marshall advised that he wanted to quarry considerable more rock from the lake bed before letting water impound. The rock was needed to finish up the main roads, face the dam and build auxiliary roads thought out the park. The stockholders were becoming anxious to see water in the lake so that the state hatchery could begin stocking fish. It was understood that fishing would not be permitted until two years after stocking had been accomplished.
Officers of the Lake Wabaunsee corporation went to Topeka, December 18 to ask Governor Landon to have the state take over the debt yet remaining on the property in the park area, amounting to $11,000. Landon approved and called Giles Atherton, chairman of the Fish and Game Commission, recommending that they take over this property and also clean up debts against two other state lakes.
It was agreed that if the state would do this, all lot selling would cease immediately and deeds would be given those who had paid for their cabin sites. All others, not paid in full would forfeit their rights. They reported that 140 cabin sites had been paid in full, with nearly $4,000 unpaid or partly paid.
The $11,000 was the amount needed to clear all property in the tract. The Lake Corporation had sold sites for a total of $14,000 and had expended the amount toward the purchase of the property in the park.
Lee Larrabee, of Liberal and Lakin Meade, of Topeka, were newly appointed members of the Fish and Game Department. Fred Hans was state game warden and secretary of the commission. Lynn Broderick was democratic national chairman and I.M.Ormsby was the resident engineer at the lake.
City Acquires Lake -- 1937
On March 1, 1937, officers of the Lake Wabaunsee Corporation, despairing of financial help from either state of county in paying off $11,000 remaining debt so that clear titles could be given the state on land, appeared before the City Commissioners and offered to turn over to the city all rights and holdings in the park, except cabin sites sold, if the city would take over the remaining debt. This would make the city of Eskridge sole owner of the property except for the 15 acres of cabin sites.
With nearly 500 acres in the project, the lake would approximate 200 acres of water and with 15 acres of cabin sites already encumbered, the city would own 275 acres of land aside from the water area. It was pointed out that this purchase would give the city a permanent water supply for a waterworks system should the town ever need to build one.
I.M.Ormsby, resident engineer, stated the project would be completed as planned if the city took over the obligation. N.M.Mullendore, of Howard, attorney for the State Fish and Game Commission said his organization would agree to relinquish all claims against the lake and park and that the sum of $3500 or more which had been spent by the Commission would be donated. He also said the Commission would keep the lake stocked provided it was kept open to the public for fishing.
The Council ordered a bond election held to issue $12,000 in 12 year bonds, on March 26. It found later that it needed only $11,000 and issued that amount at 2 1/2% interest. The bond issue carried 236 to 126.
The stockholders who had paid their money for cabin sites were to receive deeds. The city was to get all money remaining in the treasury of the Lake Wabaunsee corporation retaining no rights or interest whatever.
Ivan Conrad was elected mayor at the city election April 5 and appointed Dr. C.W.Walker in charge of the committee on parks, with Lon Peoples and Beverly Young on the committee. He appointed a Lights committee of Leland Lucky, chairman; Parker Warren and Lon Peoples. Finance, Lon Peoples, chairman; Dr. Walker and Beverly Young. Fred Mills, commandant of the Lake Wabaunsee camp was appointed new city clerk to succeed Carl R.Moore. George C.Cook was renamed city treasurer.
Since the City of Eskridge was incorporated on July 8, 1887, it was decided to hold a 50th year anniversary celebration and a lake dedication jointly on July 8, 1937.
The deed transferring the lake property to the city was executed on June 1, 1937. LaRue Moreland, city attorney was instructed to make plans for a drawing of lake lots as per the agreement on June 8, but the drawing was postponed because WPA wanted to complete its job before the dedication was held.
Since the drawing had been postponed, it was decided to make a new survey and plat. The original plat kept lots back 100 feet from the lake, but the new plat placed them only 25 feet back from the water. The survey was completed in August.
In the meantime Fred Mills had resigned as commandant at the lake effective September 1, and went to Proberto, California where he purchased a general store and filling station. John Chesbro, who for two years was commandant at the Gardner lake, was appointed as commandant here, effective September 1.
On October 1, 32,000 fish were placed in the lake by L.C.Webb, state game warden. 15,000 were crappie; 8,000 channel cat; 4,500 black bass; 2,000 blue gill; 2,000 yellow perch and 500 bullheads. Plans were made to open the lake for fishing in the spring of 1938.
Drawing for cabin sites was set for Sunday, November 7 in the main dining hall of the camp. One hundred twenty-five lots were drawn by stockholders and 25 drawn by the city, which they put up for sale. The selection of the 150 choice lots was made by a committee of Lon Peoples and Park Warren, for the city and Dr. C.W.Walker and Frank Frost, representing the Lake Wabaunsee corporation.
At the drawing, three Topeka stockholders drew the first and last lots. C.B.Crosby, President of Crosby Bros., drew the first and the last was drawn by Elmer Strain, grand secretary of the Masonic Lodge of Kansas and W.C.Noller, Topeka city Commissioner. The names of stockholders were put in druggists capsules and placed in a receptacle. The first name drew Lot 1, Block 1, etc.
Preston Dunn, City Clerk, was authorized to make a map of the lake site and platted lots, bearing the names of the lot owners.
In December, 1937, the City stated that it hoped to acquire the buildings on the lake site owned by the state to be used for recreational purposes for various civic and social organizations. The City then had 40 such applications on file. Buildings would be "spotted" at various locations around the lake.