It's not only a great place to visit. . . . . .but also a great place to live!
History of Lake Ariel
The history of Lake Ariel begins with the Lenape Indians - who hunted and fished Lake Ariel for generations into the 18th century. The first known settlers in the area were the Jones family, who moved from Hebron, Connecticut in 1793. It was just five years later that Wayne County was established. Wayne County was named after Anthony Wayne, a famous Revolutionary War hero.
Three Jones brothers settled near the outlet on the southern tip of the lake. The lake region became known as Jonestown, with the lake known as Jones Lake and/or Jones Pond. Sawmills and farming became prevalent in the region and soon afterwards a church and school were built.
By the mid 1800's the Pennsylvania Coal Company's Gravity Railroad changed the dynamics of Jonestown. The Gravity Railroad was the mid-point between Dunmore and Hawley. Not only did the railroad carry coal to Hawley, but also soon began carrying passengers to the lake. The railroad tracks were on the north side of the lake and development began taking place there. In 1851 a post office was built and was named Ariel.
After the Civil War the region began to thrive as a destination spot for vacationers and by the 1880's hotel and boardinghouse accommodations were being built. Steamers and rowboats were on the lake and on summer weekends 5,000 - 6000 visitors were not uncommon.
In 1910 the First National Bank of Lake Ariel was formed. The bank has changed names and is now known as the Pennstar Bank. It is the oldest continuous business in town. There are several other businesses with long continuous traditions including the Wayne Body Shop, the Lake Ariel Hardware Store and the John T. Howe Oil Company.
Lake Ariel Park
Lake Ariel Park was officially opened in 1875 by Dwight Mills on the north side of the lake. The park had many recreational facilities, a dance pavilion, swimming and boating - and the park was incredibly successful. The park continued to grow right into the 20th century. For a number of years the park fell into disrepair and was closed. However, by 1920 the park was reopened with many new rides and attractions, including a state of the art roller coaster called "The Cyclone." There was a water toboggan slide, a carousel and even an aviation field that offered plan rides and parachute jumping on "Miss Lake Ariel."
By the 1950's the aging park was on its last legs. By 1956 a number of hurricanes ruined some of the buildings and the park closed forever.
The southernmost portion of Lake Ariel was a part of the Wallenpaupack Manor, a 12,150 parcel of land owned by the William Penn Estate and sold to James Wilson in 1793. He was one of our founding fathers and a signer of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, a signer of the United States Constitution in 1787, and was appointed by President George Washington to serve on the first Supreme Court in 1789. For more information about James Wilson go to [www.PoconoHistory.com]
Lake Ariel has more than 8 miles of lake frontage on Lake Wallenpaupack and more than 2 miles frontage on the Wallenpaupack Creek. Lake Wallenpaupack is a manmade lake built in 1927 by the Pennsylvania Power and Light company. More than 12,000 acres were needed to construct a 5,700 acre lakebed. Property was purchased for $20.00 an acre. Farms, barns, houses and other buildings were razed. Construction of the lake began in 1924 with 2,700 men and women working two years to complete the project. PPL built a 44,000-kw power plant downstream from the lake and is still in use today. Lakefront communities along Lake Wallenpaupack in Lake Ariel include Indian Rocks, Parkside, Wallenpaupack Lake Estates, Paupack Glenn and Knollwood.