The only photographs of the cottage row I know of. The upper view was probably taken from a swimming float in the pond. The lower is a neighbor on the tow path.
For a couple of summers we had a cottage a few miles north of Coshocton, Ohio. The lake it faced was a pond on the Walhonding feeder to the Ohio and Erie Canal. The lake was created by an earth dam with a towpath along the top. At the southeast end of the lake was the remains of an aqueduct that carried the canal over the Walhonding River and on the the Roscoe Basin which was located above the locks at Roscoe Village.
Our place was pretty crude-as were almost all of them. The land was leased rather than owned and I suppose that limited cottage-holder's willingness to invest in improvements. The water for our cottage came directly from the lake and was only used to flush the toilet. Other cottages were in better shape and some were year-round homes.
It was a ramshackle sort of existence. There was something of an impromptu artist's community based there. I was really too young to appreciate the things going on around me in the world-but things were changing; racially, politically, and artistically. I have unreliable memories of Op-Art, large bottles of cheap red wine, and black turtleneck sweaters. One memory is an abstract painting in metallic gold on the wall of the main room. It had never been completed. My father let his friends use the cottage when we weren't there. It seems a couple of the women had come out for the day, got very drunk, and began to paint with whatever was at hand. When the light inside failed, they continued the painting on one of the rafts moored in the pond-which is where we found them when we came out for the weekend.
Even then, in the late 60's, the place was doomed. There was a move afoot to rehabilitate Roscoe Village-then near falling down and very much on the wrong side of the tracks. Today, all those cottages are gone, and Roscoe Village is a tourist destination. I returned to Lake Park just once, in the mid-eighties. All that remained of our old place was one concrete block too deeply embedded in the trunk of a tree to be removed.
I find I get more sentimental as I get older-perhaps recent events in my life have made me appreciate some of the simpler things in my past. And I ask myself-how do we recapture that time when everything seemed new and interesting?
Dale Austin, May, 2008
Aerial view of Lake Park, the Walhonding River, and the north end of Roscoe Basin. In the northeast corner, just above the road at the end of the lake, you can see the replica canal boat Monticello III.
There is now a footbridge across the Walhonding River on the site of the original aqueduct.
All images and text Copyright Dale Austin, 1962-2008