Dayton Park Lake
Postcard photo, circa 1916
In 1916, A.L. Dayton of Nevada opened an amusement park on land he owned near the Skunk River northeast of Ames. Dayton Park offered a lake for boating and bathing, as well as cabins and a dance hall. The park was located just south of the intersection of E-29 with Dayton Road, on the west side.
Learn more about Dayton Park by reading Farwell Brown's "Dayton Park" on page 189 in his 1993 book, Ames, the Early Years in Word and Picture. View his photos of Dayton Park.
|Ames Times, October
TO START WORK ON AMUSEMENT PARK AT ONCE - TO BE WELL EQUIPPED - What is planned to be one of the most attractive amusement parks in this part of the state is promised for Ames and vicinity next spring. Contracts have been let and preparations are being made to begin work at once on the proposed park, the site of which is a spot of exceptional beauty two miles east and four miles north of Ames. A.L. Dayton of Nevada owns the land at this place and has been planning for some time to utilize its scenic beauty in this way, but not until he was ready to start work did he let his plans be known.
A lake 800 feet long by 300 feet across and from one to twelve feet deep is to be formed by constructing a dam across a ravine that runs across the tract. This lake will be made suitable for bathing and boating in the summer time and for skating in the winter. Buildings will be erected for bath and shelter houses. There will also be buildings for a cafe and other concessions and a large pavilion where entertainments may be held.
About 20 acres of the 80 acres which Mr. Dayton owns at this place will be used for the new park. This plot is covered with a splendid grove and is reputed to be one of the most beautiful natural parks to be found in this part of the country. It will be improved and made as much more attractive as possible. Tennis courts will be provided, seats and swings will be placed and a baseball grounds will be laid out. A number of amusement devices ordinarily found in amusement parks such as a "shoot the chutes" are being planned.
It is also planned to have a private electric light plant installed to furnish the light at night and also any power that may be needed for operating machinery.
The contract for the construction of the dam for the lake has been let to Sam Bowers of this city. This work with what clearing and grading is necessary will all be completed this fall. The buildings will be erected and the park equipment installed early next spring in time for the summer opening.
The road from the park to the Lincoln Highway will be put in the best possible condition for automobile travel so that there will be no difficulty in reaching the place. It is planned to conduct the park on a high standard and make it a pleasant place where all may go for a short outing.
|Ames Evening Times, June 20, 1916
DAYTON PARK DRAWS CROWDS - THOUSANDS ENJOY
BEAUTIES OF DAYTON PARK ON SUNDAY - A GOOD PLACE TO GO
A.L. Dayton, the owner of this park, conceived the idea a year or so ago, that a park of this kind would be appreciated and patronized by the people of this and adjoining counties. He has already spent $6,000 or more in improving and beautifying the place. The park proper contains over thirty acres of the most beautiful natural scenery in this part of Iowa, if not in the entire state. The entire tract is covered with just enough timber to make delightful shade. Mr. Dayton has built an immense dam across a ravine and made a beautiful lake covering about five acres. It is kept filled with clear fresh water by numerous springs that gush from the rocky hillsides.
There has been erected in the park, a commodious bathhouse, boat house, seats, swings, merry go round stables, etc. Dayton's park is a dandy fine place to go for an outing or a picnic and the many people who went there Sunday were delighted with the place.
|Ames Weekly Tribune, August 3, 1916
FALSE RUMORS OUT ABOUT DROWNING - The people of Ames were startled Sunday evening by the report that three people had been drowned at Lake Dayton, five miles northeast of the city. The report gained currency rapidly and automobiles were made ready to go to the scene. It was then found out that the drowning had not been at Lake Dayton, but Dayton, Iowa, on the Des Moines river, nine miles west of Jewell, where three men were drowned. Several families had gone to Dayton to spend the day picnicing. The men went into the water and were caught in a whirlpool and sucked beneath the waters to their death.
There was a close call to drowning at Lake Dayton, however, as Miss Sollentine, a stenographer of Nevada, went below the surface a couple of times, and was taken from the water in an exhausted condition. The report is the young lady had crossed the lake a couple of times and was making the third trip when she became exhausted and went down. There was help close at hand and she was removed from the water with no serious results to follow.
Reports also reached the city that a man had broken his neck at Lake CoMar while making a dive. The first advises the people had from this source was a telephone message from Nevada asking as to the accident. This report was found to be without the least foundation.
|Ames Daily Tribune and
Ames Evening Times, June 27, 1921
2-DAY CELEBRATION AT DAYTON'S PARK - BOTH SUNDAY AND MONDAY, JULY 3 AND 4 TO BE BIG DAYS - Dayton's park, a mile east and three miles north of Ames, will stage a two-day celebration at the park on Sunday and Monday, July 3 and 4. The Sunday program includes a picnic dinner, afternoon and evening concerts by the Ackley Concert band, and free motion pictures in the evening. Zearing and St. Anthony play ball the afternoon of the third.
Monday, July 4, sees the real celebration. The Jewell Concert band, accompanied by a splendid soprano soloist, will be at the park all day. Kelley and McCallsburg play ball the morning of the Fourth. The winners of the Sunday game play the winners of the Monday morning game on Monday afternoon. A program of foot races, swimming races, boat races and other events for men and women, with liberal prizes to the winners, are part of the program for the Fourth. Orrie Anderson and his orchestra will play for the dance, which will be on in full swing both day and night.
The night of July 4 will see a fine display of fireworks at the park which, according to A.L. Dayton, will be worth going miles to see. All park features, including boating and bathing, will be available both days.
|Ames Daily Tribune Times, September 6,
SILVER FOX COMPANY BUYS PARK BUILDINGS - The Ames Silver Fox corporation has purchased from A.L. Dayton all of the buildings on the Dayton park land, which they recently bought from Mr. Dayton. When the corporation purchased the land Dayton kept a number of the buildings, including the dance hall, and planned to move them to another location where he would open a new amusement park.
The dance hall will be used by the corporation for a show house, while the cottages, skating rink, cafe and ice cream parlor will be used for living quarters, hospital, cooking shack and refrigerators. John Buchanan of Iowa State college is president of the Ames company.
|Ames Daily Tribune,
April 23, 1956
DAYTON PARK PAVILION DESTROYED BY FIRE - A Story County playground of yesteryear crumbled in flames early Sunday morning. Ames firemen and onlookers had no chance of dampering the conflagration. Dayton Park Dance Pavilion, a 40 by 80 structure recently has been a warehouse for Veishea, Inc. Hugh Hossle, 1014 Lincoln Way, purchased the building five miles northeast of Ames in 1951 and has since used or rented the space for storage.
Guests at the Lloyd Steward farm first noticed the voracious flames at 3 a.m. The Stewards were awakened and the alarm turned in. Mrs. Steward said "We thought the timber was also ablaze."
Shortly after firemen arrived, the roof collapsed, shooting flames as high as 40 feet into the air. Tongues of fire were clearly visible in Ames. Hossle values the place at $5,000. It was partially covered by insurance. Contents stored by Veishea, Inc. had been mostly removed. A Veishea spokesman told the Tribune the Stars Over Veishea stage was moved out two weeks ago in preparation for this year's show. Also, the lumber and stage flats had been taken to the campus for construction.
Saturday afternoon the lumber and docks for canoe races had been removed. Left inside were five or six information booths, the Vodvil curtain, a homecoming sign which spans Lincoln Way, rodeo material, a small generator and a lot of scrap lumber. None of the material was insured.
A succession of persons have owned the Dayton Park area since the pavilion was built about 1915 or 1916. Originally, the structure was erected in the hollow behind the house in the air view photo in today's paper. Nearby were games and general amusement park attractions, a swimming pool and a lake.
Story County Sheriff Ivan Shalley says he lived a couple of miles from Dayton Park when the pavilion was first built. "Many's the Sunday we sat and soaked in the swimming pool there," Shalley said. When the park was closed, the huge open air building was moved out to the road. Dances and roller skating parties were held there until after World War II. Clarence Schlark, 1010 Kellogg, a past owner, says the last dance was held during the fall of 1950, just before they closed it for the winter. Different sources have indicated the last time the building was used for dancing was a fireman's ball.