• By Kirk Gaw

Koontz Lake Places That Aren't There Anymore

Supported as a popular retreat complete with cottages and beachfront family homes for generations Koontz Lake buffs have regarded the westside shore with legends. Enthusiasts remember places like Kramer's Beach, and The Bargain Center. But, do they remember other places? Who heard of The Rainbow Gardens? Or The Rainbow Gardens Roller Rink?

Lot's of places to go for convenience and leisure can be recalled. If it isn't easy that's because of years of rebrandings and conversions. But, that hasn't stopped our locals from reminiscing. While, records are difficult to come by? Our Walkerton Facebook members have managed to discuss various places and names. We will look from the photos provided:

The old "Orange Bowl" drive-in restaurant located on 23 near Seneca Lane next door to the old Bargain Center. Joy and Fay ran it.

The "Orange Bowl" drive-in restaurant operated in the 1960's, but do you remember other names for the establishment built during the roadside culture of Koontz Lake during the 1940's and '50's?

Many visitors and residents drive by this location on Tippecanoe Drive. But did you know it was once the site of the "Green's," "Blue" store?

Back in the 1930's this was the "Green's" store on Tippecanoe Drive. It sat right on the lake. Later, it was known as "Loper's," "Knight's," and the "Blue Store." It existed into the 1980's until it was demolished. For many decades it served the community for groceries, snack's, recreational items, and beach goods.

For decades the old Dave & Ray's served the Koontz Lake community as it's only supermarket. Who knew that today it would become the only one providing for the entire Walkerton area? Once, built as Quebberman's it became Dave & Ray's, then was rebranded as "Koontz Lake Market." Today, Randy Kafantaris runs the establishment at 7893 Highway 23.

An aerial view from the northwest shore of Koontz Lake looking south.

The old Kramer's beach spot, photo by Garry Spaid. Once, a popular swimming destination on Tippecanoe Drive at Cherokee Rd., the westside of the lake was eventually replaced with newer, alternative, out of town locations. Places like Plymouth Pool, and Potato Creek State Park - Worster Lake Beach area got more popular. During it's heyday, there existed a long pier and a floating, diving dock. Today, it is the Koontz Lake Beach Park and has a picnic table area. It's also, becoming a popular attraction once, again.

Tyrell's Inn, once, served visitors on Cherokee at Tippecanoe Drive on the westside of the lake. It was a hamburger stand / diner with a grocery convenience store. Also, it offered a separate, walk up ice-cream stand going back to the 1920's. It was located across the street from Kramer's Beach. The building was later moved to a new location on US 30 near Grovertown.

Summertime is popular at Koontz Lake. Recreationers' pictured by Jim Burns congregate at the sandbar. It has been a destination since the 1840's. Over a hundred years ago you could depend on taking a paddlewheel steamer across the lake to enjoy the wooded shores. One of the two known paddlewheel steamers was found abandoned near the island area on the north shore left for scrap. Parts of it might be still visible by the swampy area on the north side of Tippecanoe Drive at the island neighborhood. You can see parts on cement blocks if you look close enough?

The remains of "The Chicken Coop" Rock-N-Roll Bar are hidden behind overgrown shrubs and weeds. You can still see part of the old empty sign off of Highway 23 once adorned with a giant chicken! The Chicken Coop was once, a stage for live music, beer, and a place to entertain. "The Stingray's" and other music groups played music there on Saturday nights. You could find musicians like Rex Masterman,Jerry Wilson, Wilbur Richey, Rick Mays, Wally Heil, and Gene Haney. The girl groupies of the day liked to dance on car hoods there. It was a wild location to celebrate 60's youth culture! The motto at "The Chicken Coop" was "If you are brave enough to enter we will serve you!" One story from Joe Szady, has a biker stealing the 8ft chicken icon, strapped it to his bike and drove away with it to "Party At The Pines!"

The Anderson Hotel once stood next door to where Stanley's Boat Sales and Marina is today on Circle Avenue. It provided room keys for those needing lodging. At one point it began to get a reputation as a gangster hideout. Rumors of gambling, and prostitution could not be denied. They even served alcohol during prohibition. It later became a place for military veterans to room and board. It also was a meeting place for drug use. It was finally demolished during the Vietnam era.

When the Anderson Hotel was originated it commanded boat rentals and these docks for hotel guests to explore Koontz Lake.

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