Monday, June 29, 2015

Hole-in-the-Wall Part 1: Oak Point


To many local residents, the name probably brings up memories of that beach just west of Oak Point Road. You couldn't see it from Route 6, but you could tell where it was by all the cars parked in the grass just off the highway. To get to the beach, you had to climb over the railroad tracks. It was private property, so you if went there, you were trespassing – which probably just added to its allure.

I was there myself once or twice in the 1970s, and never knew how it got its name. That is, until a few local historians provided me with an explanation that dates back to the days when Lake Road was located further to the south and zigzagged across Beaver Creek.

1896 Map showing the Hahn property. Hole in the Wall
beach was north of the tracks and west of Oak Point.
Ted Reising-Derby, whose Hahn ancestors had a farm in that area, explained it in an email. He noted, "As far as my Hahn ancestors always said, technically the actual hole in the wall (and its beach) were on Hahn land nearer to the west side of Beaver Creek's mouth."

He pointed out that there was an "actual hole (large culvert) that went underneath the Nickel Plate Railroad tracks," and that that people used to access the beach through the "hole in the wall" there prior to the 1930s Lake Road improvement project which caused the loss of that access hole.

Dennis Lamont concurs. He and Drew Penfield have done much research about the resort that used to be located where Oak Point Road meets Lake Road near Beaver Creek. Dennis believes that the "hole in the wall" there "was where the old resort got under the Nickel Plate Railroad to get to their docks and boat livery. (You can read much more about the resort here on Drew's Lake Shore Rail Maps website.)

Ted Reising-Derby also noted that the "Hole-in-the Wall" beach is still there at Beaver Creek today and is very impressive. He also observed that after the 1930s highway improvements and the access "hole" was lost, the beach retained the name, although few people now know the origin.

Aerial view showing Hole-in-the-Wall beach today (at left)
Today, a very long chain link fence and several NO PARKING signs along Route 6 in that area discourage curiosity seekers from sneaking onto Hole-in-the-Wall beach.

Next: The "other" Hole-in-the-Wall


Rick Kurish said...

Growing up on Kolbe road, my parents took us swimming at "the-hole-in-the-wall" a couple of times in the late 1950s. Back then people would park along the north side of Lake Road and walk across the railroad tracks. Even though it was private property, there was a well worn path up to and across the tracks, and I don't remember any "no trespassing" signs. While the owner of the property probably didn't appreciate the many people who frequented the beach, I don't remember any overt efforts to chase anyone away. It was a beautiful sandy beach with several large trees growing in the sand not far from the water, and their was no trash on the beach.

However, within a few years teenagers and others started using the beach as a place to go at night to drink, build bonfires, and generally raise a ruckus. At that time the "no trespassing" signs went up and at some point later a chain link fence topped with barbed wire pretty effectively limited access to the beach.

Even after Lake Road was rerouted in the 1930s, the old section of road remained open from Oak Point Road to the west where it again merged with Lake Road. As kids we liked to take this section of road, which was south of the several marshes along the lake at that point. The road was then virtually deserted, and the marshes provided and eerie setting if travelled in the evening. Where the old road again merged with Lake Road west of the marshes was a gas station. The gas station was located on what is now Ohio Edison property. An old willow tree which was located at the gas station still marks the spot.

The western most section of the old road was closed about 1965, and some years later a restaurant was opened on the eastern part of the old road. The restaurant was named The Rustic Hearth, and it remained in business for several years. In fact I remember having dinner there one New Years Eve with my wife and another couple.

Wireless.Phil said...

Yes, my parents took me there when I was small, probably in the 50s, then police started ticketing parked cars?

When dad got a boat we could still go, but went in by the water, sandy bottom back then unless you got into deep water, also remember going in thd late 60s and one day the water was crystal clear at about 15 or 20 feet, never seen it like that again.