Silver Lake Airport

 
Uknown Flyer, circa 1900

Silver Lake Airport was the first Airport in Summit County. The following events were written by William R. Lodge, son of Ralph H. Lodge .

"In the early spring of 1912, John Gammeter, an inventor for the B.F. Goodrich Rubber Co., asked if we had a level field big enough, (i.e. about 800 to 1,000 feet each way) so he could get an airplane off of the ground and into the air. We did not, but have been trying to negotiate for sixty acres of the Wagner farm which was level stretch joining us on the West and extends from the street car lines to our land on the North and from the park to the Pennsylvania Railway. We already have level lands to the North and to the East of it and if we could secure that land it would make a fine air field over a quarter of a mile square.

Gammeter further said that he had a Wright airplane in a frame hangar at his home on Portage Path and also a mechanic to fly it. His home backed up on the Portage Country Club where they have permitted him to fly it a few times on their golf course, but they objected to it and he wanted to find a new place where he could start a flying school. Aviation is the coming thing and he felt it would be a fine attraction to have at the lake.

Father had previously expressed a desire to acquire this land so it was put before the Silver Lake Park Companyís (family) Board of Directors. Approval was given to negotiate with the Wagner family and found that it could be purchased for $250.00 per acre ($15,000.00). On May 27, 1912 the deal was closed. We then removed fences, brush and obstructions, did the necessary grading, but it was almost as level as a barn floor so didnít need much.

Mr. Gammeter soon moved his wooden hanger to the new airfield and started operations with the one Wright airplane, tools, etc. with Mr. Lester Weeks as his mechanic. Arrangements were then made for an aviation school and the procurement of several more planes with a Mr. Silverston of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I went to Milwaukee and inspected Mr. Silverston's operations after which we made a contract and I designed and had built a fire proof hangar thirty by one hundred feet. This was built by contractor Fred Stoll of the Falls at a cost of $2,000. Equipment was installed and an aviation school was started. Before the first of July, flying at Silver Lake was an almost daily event and the school progressed. It become a commonplace to be awakened at day break by the purr or roaring hum of an aviation motor over our homes.

In the Spring and Summer of 1913 two well known flyers lost their lives, a Mr. Carlson and Mr. Harris. Johnny Cominski was another well know flyer at Silver Lake and tried a hydroplane one day on the lake. This cracked up just west of the island without injury to the pilot.

One of the greatest thrills in connection with the aviation at Silver Lake was after the mile race track was built for the county fair grounds at the park in 1913. This race track extended across the aviation field from east to west and during the 1914 fair week following Labor Day, a race between Barney Oldfield in his famous racing automobile on the track with Thompson, the well know exhibition flyer, in a plane circling right overhead at times only a few feet above him made an exciting event that will always be remembered by those who saw it.

Various municipal airports began to spring up all over the country and after a few years of flying at Silver Lake, which proved to be quite an attraction, the promoters give it up for it was hard to put on an exhibition that they could get pay for. Instead of folks buying tickets they would sit in their automobiles away from the exhibition grounds and witness the flying without cost.

The first flying field or airport in Summit County only lasted a few years, but was a history making asset and attraction to old Silver Lake and Cuyahoga Falls. The hangar buildings were converted into race horse barns.

On the anniversary of the 40th successful flight of the Wright brothers, December 17, 1943, I thought it a fitting time to tell the story of the first flying or aviation field, airport in Summit County for I was surprised how few really know about it."

Wm. R. Lodge, December 17, 1943 Information obtained from the manuscript entitled An Historical Anthology of Silver Lake by William R. Lodge.

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Contents | Bears | Train | General | Indians/River | About Silver Lake | Dedication Speech | Amusement Park | Photo Gallery | Gallery II | Gallery III | Gallery IV |Airport | Lodge Sr.| Geo. Lodge | W.R. Lodge | J. Stow | Wm Wetmore | Steamboats | W.Island | Slide | Swan | School | Incorporation | S.L.Photos | Beautiful S.L. | Eve. Shadows | Genealogy | R.H.Lodge,Jr Obituary | O.E.Lodge,Obituary | Links | Kinsey Collection | Slide Show | Misc Obits |