Friday, January 22, 2016

Lake of Three Fires

This day, sixty-four years ago, has stayed impressed on my memory while so many others have faded away. Even before I found this photo Mom took, any time I thought of Lake of Three Fires, I thought of this boat ride. Why? I'm sure I could not have been more than eight years old.
I don't remember anything else about the day, what we were doing, whether or not we were there for a picnic or if we had just been on a Sunday drive. We were with our friends and neighbors, the Moore's.
Mom and Rose Emma stayed on shore while Dad rowed us out onto the lake. Ron (in overalls) and Wayne Dale were in the stern while Betty and I were sitting with Wayne in the bow. Where were the life jackets? And is that why this memory has stayed with me? Was I afraid we were going to end up in the lake? I do think that may be the reason, because it seems like I was very anxious and very glad to be back at the dock.

Lake of Three Fires was our nearest State Park, around 20 miles from the farm. It is one of Iowa's oldest, dedicated in 1935. It was one place we could go swimming with a nice sandy beach near the shelter house and the docks where boats were rented.

I don't think I ever went down the slide, but I do remember swishing my feet through the water while swinging.

And that lodge! It was beautiful, built by the CCC. I loved the massive stone fireplace.

There was a trail from the beach area, through the woods over to the camping area with a wooden foot bridge across one of the lake inlets. I thought is was great fun to follow the trail and cross that bridge.

The other thing that always fascinated me about this state park was its name - why was it called Lake of Three Fires? A park brochure says it was named for a legend about the area: The local Potawatomi tribe joined with two others, the Objibwa and the Ottawa, to form the Three Fires Confederacy for mutual advantage and protection. Legend says they held a great council meeting in the area. Another legend says each tribe kept a fire burning the whole time they were in the area. If the fire went out, that meant they had moved on. Thus, three fires.

The park had cabins for rent even when I was young, but now it has six new all-season ones with heat, a/c and plumbing. There are trails for hiking as well as an equestrian trail. I remember at least one picnic here with my children and I kind of remember a bigger family reunion type of get-together years ago, maybe with Mom's folks, her sisters and their families.

But no memory of Lake of Three Fires stands out like the row boat ride with my Dad, brother, sister and the neighbors.

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