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Beautiful Ballast

1898 text from reference (14) in the Bibliography


Among the numerous resorts for summer visitors and tourists scattered among the islands of the archipelago, Ballast resort holds a prominent place. The island itself is a romantic bit of nature, consisting of picturesque rock, native forest trees and vineyard and orchard lands.


Numerous cottages, artistically built and vine embowered, with winding walks and smooth lawns, adorn the spot, and overlooking precipitous rocks to northward is located the Ballast club house, an airy structure. An ample wharf, boat house and other improvements also appear.


“Home of the Western Canoe Association” is the term by which Ballast island is best known to its patrons, having formed for years the resort at which this organization has held its annual meets, and a newly erected club house on the gravelly stretch of the south shore furnishes excellent accommodations to its membership. In addition to the clubhouse of the canoe association, the canoer's camp - as seen during the summer - with its tents of white and striped canvas, and its line of birchen canoes crowding the beach, forms a pretty picture, which the photographer, camera in hand, has not been slow to discover. Ballast Island was so named in consideration of the fact that just before the battle of Lake Erie the ships of Perry’s squadron were provided with ballast in the shape of stone brought from the shores of this island. History does not locate the exact spot where the gallant commodore obtained his supply, but he must have found it without looking far, as lime rock, gravel stone and boulders are there found in inexhaustable quantity.


The island contains about nine acres of land and is owned by a stock company, among whom are ex Mayor Geo. W. Gardner and Gen. James Barnett of Cleveland, Colonel Bartlett of Fremont and many other gentlemen of prominence who, with their families and friends, patronize the resort.


Nature’s rugged wildness and art's refining touch here combine to form a scene most charming.


Notable among summer cottages may be mentioned the Gardner “log cabin,” a romantic picture, a rustic poem, from its old fashioned chimney, furniture and spinning wheel within, to the scaly bank of its unhewn logs and ivy-clad gables without.


At this resort the Cleveland Canoe association was organized nearly twenty years ago, W. Scott Robinson, of the Cleveland Recorder, and Geo. W. Gardner being its chief sustainers.


In 1885 invitations were extended to all Western canoers to become guests of the Cleveland club at Ballast. These invitations were accepted and from this friendly alliance blossomed a new organization known as the Western Canoe association.


An extended program of races in sailing and paddling are arranged for each season and prize cups of chaste and costly design are annually competed for; each meet lasting about ten days.


Speaking of canoers, they are all extravagantly fond of just such a romantic situation as this little island affords. They are fond, too, of brisk breezes, flapping sails and dashing surf. They worship a canoe as a Hindoo his gods, or an Arab his horse, and little wonder, for the willowy masted, swift-winged canoe of modern construction is the prettiest and most agile thing ever designed to float upon water.


Many of these canoes are trimmed in nickel and silver plating, with delicately, wrought tiller chains and rudder of shining nickel. They are decked with flags and pennons of unique designs and their furnishings are novel and pretty.


The canoe is an expensive toy and fit to grace a parlor mantel - only that it is just a trifle too big for this purpose. Its color is a pale birch-brown. It has two sails, but is also propelled, when desired, by a single paddle, after the manner of aboriginal canoers.


The canoer appears as strikingly picturesque as the canoe which he sails, for his costume is natty and novel.


Beside the trophy cups sailed for, flags are awarded winners, together with other prizes, both pretty and appropriate, consisting of articles such as silk blankets, silver soap cases, traveling drinking cups, fishing boxes, camp lanterns, canoe rugs and other novelties.


The families and friends of club members occupy the cottages, taking their meals in the dining hall. A manager is appointed to furnish supplies and to look after the interests of the island. This position is filled at the present time by S. M. Johannsen.


The Ballast resorter is a lover of nature, finding "sermons in stones and tongues in trees," and beneath his umbrageous screen of elms, maples, cedars and sycamores the days of summer speed like a dream. One especial favorite known as the "umbrella," or "eagle tree," contained for many years a large eagle's nest. Within it every returning season a pair of old eagles reared their young, and some of the brood were domesticated by the islanders. The nest and the eagles have now disappeared, but the tree still remains.


The Ballast patrons are individuals of quiet, refined tastes, but unconventional withal, and prefer easy but substantial comfort to stiff formality.


They dress as they like and do as they please, bathing, boating, dozing, dreaming. They are all thoroughly in. love with their pretty isle, and money would not tempt them to part with it.    

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Revised: 21 Jul 2008 06:54:55.

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