The lake, 22900 S. K-368, Vassar, began as an outgrowth of flood control efforts following the flood of 1951 that greatly affected the Ottawa area, though that wasn’t the sole purpose for the lake’s formation. Pomona Lake also provided improved water supply, water quality, fishing and wildlife and recreation. Today those infrastructure needs largely might be taken for granted by the public.
The popular 4,000-acre park at Pomona Lake is a favorite for campers and boaters, as well as for picnicking, hiking, fishing and outdoor enthusiast activities. Anniversary activities are expected to include a retro cruise-in and vintage display of campers and recreational vehicles July 12. If you are the owner of a vintage camper/RV, the Friends of the Pomona State Park is offering incentives to entice you to join the celebration with one night’s camping at a site with utility hook-ups and a Kansas State Park day pass for a vehicle, as well as a free lunch. Call Zo Torrey for more information at (785) 478-1372 or (785) 806-2308 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course, present-day campers can be part of the action too. Pomona Lake has organized its own frequent camper program encouraging people to camp or stay at the lake for 50 nights during 2014 to earn prizes from area merchants in drawings to recognize those who achieve the 50 nights during the 50th year goal.
Though recreation typically is fun, one other incident from 36 years ago also needs to be remembered. Pomona Lake formerly played host to a showboat — The Whippoorwill — for leisurely cruises on the lake. An unexpected June 17, 1978, tornado capsized the boat, resulting in 16 deaths and three injuries among the 58 passengers and crew aboard on that tragic evening. The drowning victims will be remembered at a special memorial service 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Pomona Lake control tower at the south end of the dam.
RV activities are one of the fastest growing travel options for families — as explained in the American Profile supplement in Tuesday’s Herald — and why not since it offers a great home away from home without all the digital distractions?
Whatever reasons you most appreciate Pomona Lake, this year’s 50th anniversary marks an excellent time to make a splash and either revisit or visit for the first time all the recreational opportunities available next door.
— Jeanny Sharp,