Pomona Lake Celebrates Golden Anniversary In Flood Control, Recreation

Floods come when seemingly unending rainfall downpours overburden every waterway from ditch to stream to river each overflowing their banks causing exhausting destruction to everybody and everything in the way.

Human lives come in harm as communities; homes, productive crops and even rich farmland itself are lost with financial valuation skyrocketing to surpass owners’ greatest and most dreaded imaginations.

images1That’s a sobering reality often forgotten, readily and easily overlooked, when one partakes in the most beautiful lakes, parks and accompanying recreational opportunities provided by federal reservoirs throughout the state of Kansas and the country.

While modern day generations often only know about the good and glamour, those communities, families and landowners who experienced the flood losses view the giant bodies of water with a bittersweet appreciation of sorts.

Knowing how important and essential the flood prevention reservoirs are to overall area productivity and drastic savings in economic resources, many families including longtime farm operations were forced off lands that had been their livelihood for generations.

While generally reimbursed generously and most often relocated back into their profession miles from origination, it still was not the same as the old home place.

History is important to reflect now as one of those most exquisite blue water sources with immaculately picturesque landscape and most appealing recreational aesthetics celebrates its golden anniversary.

“The Pomona Lake in Osage County is 50 years old and a yearlong celebration is in progress,” according to Stephanie Watson, Lyndon, director of Osage County Economic Development.

“The Pomona Lake Dam was built in 1963 at a cost of over $13 million dollars. Pomona Lake was dedicated on September 5, 1964, when the lake was opened to begin control of flooding of the 110-Mile, Dragoon, Plummer and Valley Brook Creeks and the downstream Marais des Cygnes River,” Watson emphasized.

“The lake near Vassar began as an outgrowth of flood control efforts following the flood of 1951 that greatly affected many farming communities throughout Kansas and the Midwest,” Watson continued.

“To this day, flood protection savings have well exceeded $135 million. Pomona Lake controls watershed runoff over a 322 square mile area. This lake is operated in conjunction with other Army Corps projects, which Congress authorized to be built for flood control in the Kansas, Missouri, and Mississippi river basins.

“Its contributions toward this area’s quality of life are reasons to rejoice and celebrate,” she pointed out.

While controlling flood water damage to communities, populations, farmland and agriculture productivity, Pomona Lake also provides water supply, improves water quality, fishing, wildlife and recreation, all important to the area’s economy, according to the one coordinating and overlooking such important endeavors.pomonamap1

“Today, those infrastructure needs largely might be taken for granted by the public,” appropriately pointed out Jenny Sharp, editor of The Ottawa Herald, in a recent editorial for her publication.

“Pomona Lake has 4,000 surface acres, and 52 miles of scenic shoreline, while offering many other activities including camping, hunting, hiking, horseback riding trail, and two disc golf courses,” appreciatively described Wayne White, editor of www.osagecountyonline.com.

“The lake is widely known for its fishing opportunities for crappie, walleye, bass and catfish as well as shady and quiet campgrounds along its shores in nine parks,” White credited.

“Eight parks managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the 40-acre Pomona State Park are favored by northeast Kansas residents for their great family atmosphere and easy accesses to the water, whether skiing, boating, fishing or swimming,” White confirmed.

There are two marinas serving Pomona Lake. North Shore Marina is at Michigan Valley Park, and Lighthouse Bay Marina is at Pomona Lake State Park. “Both provide a variety of services including fuel, slip rentals, boat repair, snacks, fishing supplies and bait,” Watson pointed out.

Additionally, Pomona Lake is within easy driving of two other Osage County fishing “hotspots,” White acknowledged: Melvern Lake, known especially for its crappie, and the Osage County Fishing Lake, recognized for its bass and walleye fishing.

“Pomona Lake has organized its own frequent camper program called the 50 on 50 Club encouraging people to camp or stay at the lake for 50 nights during 2014 to become eligible for a drawing of camping privileges and prizes from area merchants,” Watson related.

Doug and Jean Higbie of Williamsburg were recently notified they were the first 50 on 50 Club members, after having camped for 56 nights already this year at Pomona Lake State Park.

“We congratulate the Higbie family,” said David Green, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations manager for Pomona and Melvern Lakes.

“The Higbies were honored to be the first award winners, but they emphasized that they’ve been enjoying themselves camping and fishing at Pomona Lake for years,” Green added.

images1With generally all favorable feelings for Pomona Lake, one sad incident from 36 years ago has been recognized as well.

“Pomona Lake formerly played host to a showboat, ‘The Whippoorwill,’ for leisurely cruises on the lake,” Sharp reflected. “An unexpected June 17, 1978, tornado capsized the boat, resulting in 16 deaths and three injuries among the 58 passengers and crew aboard that tragic evening.”

Drowning victims were remembered at a special memorial service June 17 (2014) at the Pomona Lake Control tower.

Pomona Lake anniversary events so far have included ski shows, a fishing derby, free fishing weekend and a special family run/walk event.

Fourth of July week will certainly highlight Pomona Lake’s 50th anniversary, Watson said.

A Night Light Golf Tournament kicks off July 3, at Vassar’s Lamont Hill Resort, a public par-35, nine-hole golf course.

Set for Independence Day are: Pomona Lake Ski Club Ski Show, at the ski club; boat parade, Pomona State Park Marina Cove; and fireworks at the Pomona State Park Boat Ramp One.

Sharp’s Fireworks have been scheduled Saturday night, July 5, at Lamont Hill.

All vintage and classic cars, hot rods, and rat rods have been invited to cruise around the lake in a Car Cruise on July 12, Watson related.

Actually, July 12 and 13 have been designated as Retro Weekend, with vintage camper and boat owners invited to come to the lake to show their recreational vehicles of yesteryear.

For owners of such a camper, Friends of the Pomona State Park is offering incentive to entice them 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 free lunch. Information is available by calling 785-479-1372, or 785-806-2308, or email dztorrey@cox.net.

Jet Ski Races are set July 19-20, at the Marina Cove with Jeremy McComb performing live.

A Pomona Ski Club Ski Show is planned August 17, and the Pomona Lake 50th anniversary Corps of Engineers Open House is September 7, at the visitors center on the south end of the dam.

“This year’s 50th anniversary marks an excellent time to make a splash and either revisit or visit for the first time all of the recreation opportunities at Pomona Lake,” Watson invited.

Complete details are at www.exploreosage.com.