By Deb Patterson
The first Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation Lilly Pad Cruise, as part of its annual summer Lake Talk and Eats, appears to have been a success with a boat full of people of all ages participating. The cruise combined lake history with the ecology of the lake through programs and research by the Center for Lakes & Streams.
Ann Vanderford Garceau, Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, presented a condensed version of the Wawasee Historical Tour. Joan Szynal, president of the ; Diana Castell, education committee; Heather Harwood, executive director; and Dr. Nate Bosch, director of the Center for Lakes & Streams, provided narratives throughout the two-hour cruise. Also included in the cruise was a water sampling taken off Waco Point to demonstrate the equipment and give guests an opportunity to see, touch and smell the water. While the lake’s deepest point was not reached, the sampling was taken at a depth of 45 feet.
Garceau provided historical facts on Oakwood Hotel, Kale Island, Pickwick Park, Willow Grove, Sargent Hotel and the Wawasee Depot, Lilly estates, Cedar Beach, Spink-Wawasee Hotel, Ogden Island, Cedar Point, Natti Crow and the sheep wash, Morrison Island, Buttermilk Point and Johnson’s Hotel, Highland View Gardens, All Saint’s Episcopal Church, Vawter Park, Ideal Beach, Lakeview Hotel and other interesting points along the way.
Among the information Garceau presented were the numerous hotels found around the lake at one point. She stated they have found at least 34 homes more than 100 years old are on the lake. Several of these homes were pointed out as well as one home, which still has its log construction under modern siding.
Szynal, Castell and Harwood included information on the foundation’s history, natural shorelines, wetland preservation and eco zones. Szynal and Bill Hess noted 33 percent of the lake’s shoreline has been converted to the glacial rock or natural shoreline.
Bosch provided a history of water testing on the lake and research. He also showed the various equipment used in the water testing — Secchi disc to test water clarity, the fluorometer to test blue-green algae, a quanta meter to check oxygen levels, temperatures and more and the apparatus used to gather water samples.
The cruise also included lunch and cash bar.
Approximately 110 people participated in the event with Harwood noting this event may be repeated in the future.