Chapter 3: Old Sandy Bottom/Rood Campground
Irwin A. Rood came to the lake from Sweet Valley in 1898. He taught at the one-room Rock School on Sorber Mountain for two years, but in 1901 he purchased the Al Goode store at the West Corner. Rood ran an early horse and wagon school-bus service, and in 1918 also became the Laketon postmaster, a post he served until 1937. Two generations of the Rood family managed the general store and served the West Corner until 1965.
In 1928 Ben and Vernon Rood, the two sons of I.A. Rood, began to rent tent sites on a large plot of land previously used as a truck farm. The site was across the lake road and opposite the Sandy Beach site. Guests had a camping ground and access to the beach. The tent ground was an enormously popular attraction and was frequently called Tent City. A camp site rented for two dollars weekly.
In May 1930 a Pure Oil gasoline station was added, which later changed to Atlantic-Richfield. The tent ground soon attracted trailers. In 1933 five rental cabins were built. Shortly, additional cabins were built until sixteen cabins were available. They were one-, two- and three-room cabins which originally rented for fifteen, twenty and twenty-five dollars a week. At the height of its popularity, the Room camp ground would accommodate six hundred people in 125 tent sites, fifty trailer sites and the sixteen cabins.
In 1935 Rood built the Martha Washington Inn. It had rooms for six boarders in addition to a restaurant trade. In December 1954 Joseph and Margaret McCaffrey purchased West Corner beach land from Margaret Pugh. Brush and trees were cleared and tons of fill dirt topped with the find sand were used to improve the beach. In the summer of 1955, Old Sandy Bottom Beach equipped with a convenient refreshment stand and picnic tables, was opened to the public.
A second generation, James and Carlene McCaffrey, continued to operate the attractive beach. It was a lucky child whose parents had a cottage at the West Corner or whose family rented one of Rood’s cabins for a week. Sandy Beach had all the attractions of a small resort. It was a delight to fill the hours with the exhausting adventures of a summer day at Sandy Beach. Some of the camp children could earn welcome change early in the morning by helping to clear the Sandy Beach Drive-in of the candy wrappers and small trash thrown from the cars during the evening.
For another generation after the 1950's, the Sandy Beach area continued to attract large crowds. It was the largest public beach at the lake, especially after the addition of Old Sandy Bottom. But the changing recreational demands of the public challenged the owners of area parks to attract large crowds.
The cost of renovations to maintain public interest often taxed the resources of family-owned parks. Then, too, small parks became casualties of the costs of compliance with increased environmental and safety standards.
Copyright 2006-2008 F. Charles Petrillo