Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Beaver Park Article – June 15, 1969

Here's an interesting article about Dr. Roy E. Schaeffer, the man who owned and developed Beaver Park. The article was written by Journal Staff Writer Bob Cotleur and appeared in the paper on Sunday, June 15, 1969. It provides a nice biography of Dr. Schaeffer and a history of Beaver Park, with mentions of the Killer Crossing, as well as the Beaver Shore Motel and Beaver House.


The Dentist Who Owns Beaver Park Teen Resort
Staff Writer

DR. ROY SCHAEFFER likes to stroll around his Beaver Park
area, which includes a marina, a motel and a teenage resort.
AS A BOY of 13, Roy E. Schaeffer built his first dock for the small boat of a cottage owner and thus launched the Schaeffer family into the marina business.

Though he has been a boating enthusiast all his life, Roy followed his father, Dr. William E. Schaeffer, into a career as a dentist.

But Roy has kept his interests in boats and water all 54 years of his life.

His father had taken over Beaver Park in 1925 and "we have been there off and on ever since."

Lt. Roy Schaeffer was a Navy dentist from Dec., 1940, through November, 1947. He could have stayed behind the swivel chair, reaching tools suspended overhead or from the white antiseptic tray.

"The boat division was practicing beach landings through the surf at La Jolla, California. Men handling the boats has little or no experience so after a couple of accidents the skipper asked if anyone among us had small boat handling experience.

"I VOLUNTEERED and consequently after bringing the boat through the surf three times and taking it out again, they put me in charge of training coaxswains [sic] in boat handling.

"I did my dental duties as well, but during the two years I was at sea I did very little dentistry. Mostly I was involved in small boat handling."

He's modest. The citation he got with the Silver Star said in part:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Boat Division Officer on board the (attack transport) U.S.S. President Adams during landing operations on Gavutu Island, August 8 & (, volunteering to pilot three loaded amphibian tractors over a difficult and hazardous route under continuous enemy sniper fire, Lt. Schaeffer accomplished a task previously attempted in vain by tractor crews and succeeded in reaching shore with urgently needed supplies in the darkness and rain."

The citation added how he and his crew salvaged an abandoned ramp boat from a reef "under range of enemy snipers" and other details. It was signed "Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy."

Dr. Schaeffer resumed civilian practice in Amherst in 1947 and almost immediately began developing the Beaver Park area on Lorain's far west side into what it is today.

Once it was a quiet marshy area, with lily pads in the river and a few cottages here and there along the shore and the Beaver Creek.

HE BEGAN by dredging the creek, then "we built a floating piledriver from an old Ford engine and a winch and put in sheeting and piles."

Later he dredged three small docking lagoons south of the Lake Road and business began to thrive. In fact, competition arrived and benefited from his work in opening the river.

He built a fence across the river inside his land "to get the problem into court. The new business didn't see a need for helping financially with keeping the river open."

He won the lower court and appeals court but lost in the Ohio Supreme Court when new law was written "and it literally opened up some 25,000 miles of creek fronts in Ohio which previously had been non-navigable and therefore private."

He applauded the decision against him on behalf of the open waterways but is still irritated by the fact he had to maintain the dredging cost himself – to the added benefit of his competition.

Today the area north of Lake Road, about 21 acre with 3/4 of a mile of shoreline, is owned by the Beaver Park Company, surviving members of the family of Dr. William E. Schaeffer who died in June, 1967. Dr. Roy is president.

This area contains the Beaver Shore Motel, about 32 cottages which are nearly all privately owned, Beaver House which is a teenage resort and dockage for boats from 26 feet in length to 38 feet.

Vintage Beaver Park
Marine Sales Letterhead
The 16 acres south of Lake Road contains the three lagoons, the Beaver Park Marina (Company) and is owned by Dr. and Mrs. Roy Schaeffer outright.

YOU'VE READ about Beaver Park. The Norfolk & Western Railroad mainline slices the only access road to the motel, Beaver House and the dockage area in the basin near the river's mouth.

You've read about it because three young men were killed at the crossing in a train-car accident in 1966 and a Lorain woman of 37 died in another train-car accident there just a few days ago.

"I'd say, without any doubt, there are a minimum of 2,000 or 3,000 people a week who cross the tracks. We operate at high level for at least 10 to 12 weeks and at a lower level for six to eight months.

"There's no question it's a hazard," he said.

He'd like to see the conventional railroad crossing gate which lowers, and the red flashers which warn when a train is approaching. But he doesn't believe he (the company) should pay what he estimates to be "about $30,000 or more, plus 90 percent of the installation charge. The railroad would then take over and pay annual operating expenses."

But the real point is, he couldn't buy it if he wanted to. The railroad can only enter into such an agreement with a municipality, not a private individual or company.

"After the three were killed, the city of Lorain wanted us to put the gate-flasher up. But the railroad's attorney informed us the railroad could only enter into agreement with the municipality (Lorain) under a Public Utilities Commission Office (PUCO) ruling covering this point.

"Fred Ritenauer, eighth ward councilman at the time, then backed off. He said the city had other places they would put gates first before spending money at Beaver Park crossing."

Ritenauer agreed the ruling was specific. He said he dealt during the negotiations with Dr. William Schaeffer, then president of the company, but added, "he could have made a contribution toward the cost. But he didn't want to."

INSTEAD THE Beaver Park Company installed yellow flashers which signal constantly whether a train is coming or not. Dr. Schaeffer thinks it is worthless.

"We paid around a thousand or so to have them put in and we pay to maintain it. But it's really of no value because it blinks all the time and people who ride by there know it blinks all the time.

"It's not any warning other than the same type of warning you see when you're driving along the highway and it's just to catch your eye. I think it just lulls people into security more than anything else."

His suggestions?

"There's been more than a suggestion of creating an underpass there. Once, when the state planned to take over this area and more to create an Admiral King park, they wanted five underpasses, two for roadways and three for pedestrians. I guess it's been passed up for not being feasible for the money it would cost," he said.

Dr. Schaeffer today is six feet tall, wavy-haired and weighs less than he did while playing football for Ohio State University in the late 30's. He's an avid golfer as well as boater, and loves water and snow skiing and bridge. He married the former Jean Stewart of Grosse Ile, Mich., in 1944, and has two sons, John, 23, and Bill, 21, and two daughters, Tane, 19, and Narda, 16.

His views on youth are tempered and broadened by "the kids at Beaver House, the teenage resort at Beaver Park. Mel Shullick, the manager, keeps a tight absolute rein on them. It proved out. There's a minimum of trouble despite a violent, explosive situation created because you're piling anywhere from 400 to 600 teenagers into a small area.

"Mix them up with that loud music, or wild music or good music, whatever it is the kids love it, and all the elements for trouble are there," he says.

But the owners or managers of other Lorain area teenage spots have a firm agreement. If a kid is banned from one place, the ban extends to all others. Dr. Schaeffer calls it "a threat over their heads" and believes it works well.

WITH HIS OWN children, he says, "we've always avoided even the accepted use of cigarettes. They drink beer but use little or no liquor. I hope they don't use any of the drugs and my son John, he's in medicine, has taken a hard stand against it with the younger children.

"If you enjoy living, enjoy getting around, then why should you use something you know is eventually going to end up in trouble, eventually be detrimental to your health," he asks.

He has spent six years on the board of the Amherst School District and believes the city is one of the finest places to live on earth.

But he takes a hard line against opponents of urban renewal. He believes the need for renewal is there and must be supported "otherwise the town is going to continue a downhill trip, as far as downtown is concerned."

He considers one of the brightest moments of his fistful of lives that "alumni day" at Ohio State in 1965 when he and his late father William came back to celebrate the 25th and 50th anniversary, respectively, of their graduations as dentists.

But the brief record seems to be ending.

Son John is on his way to becoming a medical man, an MD instead of a DDS.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Dan, loved this. I worked for J.W. Schaeffer, M.D. for 26 years and could not be prouder to have done so. Rae

Dan Brady said...

Hi Rae! Thanks for posting that!

Mike Kozlowski said...


Do you have any information on that proposed Admiral King park mentioned in the article?


Rick Kurish said...

Enjoyed the article on Dr. Schaeffer and Beaver Park. He was our family dentist from the early 1950s until he retired. I remember as a little kid having a couple of dental procedures and having him give me a dime each time as a reward for "good behavior" during the ordeal. The only caveat was that I couldn't use it to buy candy --- but a comic book was okay.

I happened to be in his office one day shortly before he retired, and the staff were kidding him about being a "war hero". It turned out that his world war II experience mentioned in the newspaper article was used in a history of the Pacific war Titled, Eagle Against The Sun, published in 1985. While it was only about a paragraph, he admitted to getting a kick out of seeing his name in the history. It was the first time I knew he was in the military.

The last time I saw him was a couple of years before he passed. I ran into him at a restaurant and asked if he remembered me as a patient. He admitted he didn't remember me, but perhaps if I could open my mouth real wide and he could take a quick peek inside it would trigger his memory.

A real good guy.

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. And yes, Mike – I'm busy researching/compiling information for a post about the proposed state park.