Golden Years on the Lake

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This vintage picture postcard from the mid-20th century depicts Pep’s Inn and Village, located on beautiful Lake Wallenpaupack in Pennsylvania’s Pike County. The owners of the establishment called it an “all-in-one” resort that offered the big three of summertime–fishing, boating and swimming–along with cottages and a colony cove of future home sites.

Many people first experienced the joys of boating as youngsters on freshwater lakes like this one. Today, those people often recall stories of a father, grandfather or uncle who had a cottage on a lake and a rowboat, runabout or sailing dinghy to cruise. The hours spent fishing, water skiing or just puttering about with family and friends helped plant the seeds for a lifetime love of boating.

It wasn’t always that way. In the early 1900s, America’s inland waters were still the province of outdoorsmen—including the avid fishermen and hunters who hired guides to take them to the best spots. The outdoorsmen would band together, often spending nights in rustic hunting lodges. Women and children were mostly left at home.

That all started to change in the 1920s with the popularity and reliability of the automobile and the outboard motor. The sportsman gradually gave way to the family man, who was glad to drive his wife and kids to the lake with him. The canoes and guide boats were replaced by a different kind of craft–a casual, easy-to-use design for families that enabled parents to teach their kids about boating.

To meet demand, builders produced many of these boats. In the process, they filled America’s inland waters with a variety of small craft. Among those designs were the Lyman Cruisette, Penn Yan 16-foot Baltic, the Thompson Sea Coaster and the Larson All-American, all of which are considered classic boat designs today. 

This article was originally published in the October 2020 issue.

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