The Monday After: Honoring Meyers Lake village, park

·7 min read
A plaque on each of the pylons donated by Tracy Stadelman to Stark County Park District identifies the stone as a pylon for the fondly remembered "Comet" roller coaster at the former Meyers Lake Amusement Park.
A plaque on each of the pylons donated by Tracy Stadelman to Stark County Park District identifies the stone as a pylon for the fondly remembered "Comet" roller coaster at the former Meyers Lake Amusement Park.

Meyers Lake, the legendary amusement park that once operated adjacent to that water, and the village that surrounds the recreation spots all are being honored with plaques and pylons.

Five of the latter remnants of the Meyers Lake Amusement Park – pylons from the last roller coaster operating at the iconic tourist attraction – have been placed as historical markers on Stark County Park District properties.

"Meyers Lake Park 'COMET' Rollercoaster Pylon," each of the plaques placed on the pylons identifies, before dating the coaster as "circa 1947."

The erection of the historical markers – artifacts saved when the park closed in the 1970s – made their way to Stark Parks through the donation of Tracy Stadelman, who lives at Meyers Lake and whose mother, Diana L. Stadelman, was mayor of Meyers Lake Village for many years.

"My mother saved six of the Meyers Lake Amusement Park's 'Comet' roller coaster pylons from the trash dump years ago," Stadelman explained. "My mother became mayor in the early '80s after the park had been dismantled. But she noticed all the pylons laying around in the woods before the development of Moonlight Bay and salvaged them. She then placed them all in a row like her own Stonehenge along 12th Street (NW) where they remained for 25 years.

"In 2016, after her death (in 2015), I donated them to Stark Parks to use to mount plaques at various new Stark Parks construction projects.

"It's just a small part of history, but I thought it worthwhile."

Stadelman noted that her family had donated the money to build the gazebo and do the landscaping of the hillside down to the water at Sippo Lake, as well as construct the nearby bridge at Exploration Gateway. The family also sponsored the construction of the new bridge at Petros Lake Park. Three of the five pylons that have been put in place by the park district so far are resting in those locations.

The other two places that roller coaster pylons are being displayed are at the Raptor Rehabilitation Flight Cage at Sippo Lake next to the Wildlife Conservation Center and The Mindfulness Walk trail at Petros Lake Park.

"I have asked the park district to install a new bronze plaque on each of the five pylons we have used," Stadleman said.

The Comet was the final roller coaster to be used at Meyers Lake Amusement Park, having been installed in 1947. According to local historian Richard Haldi, who frequently gives a talk on the fondly remembered park, The Comet was one of the favorite rides at the park.
The Comet was the final roller coaster to be used at Meyers Lake Amusement Park, having been installed in 1947. According to local historian Richard Haldi, who frequently gives a talk on the fondly remembered park, The Comet was one of the favorite rides at the park.

Village recognized with sign

Stadelman also commissioned, with local historian and Meyers Lake neighbor Richard Haldi, a plaque-like sign that recognizes Meyers Lake as both a water body and a village.

The green sign, which has "Meyers Lake" on one side and "Meyers Lake Village" on the other, along with text concerning the history of each, calls to mind Stadelman's mother, the mayor.

"Privately Funded and Erected in Memory of Diana L. Stadelman," small lettering on one side of the sign says.

The village sign will be unveiled and dedicated during an event Friday, beginning at noon at Meyers Lake YMCA.

Haldi is scheduled to speak at the event, giving his Meyers Lake Amusement Park talk, for which the Stadelman family is catering a box lunch at the outdoor pavilion for 50 invited guests.

Part of that talk, no doubt, will center on the special roller coaster that is remembered by longtime residents.

Following the talk, invited guests will walk to the northeast corner of the Meyers Lake YMCA property where they will join with others for a public portion of the event. There, at 1:30 p.m., Stadelman and Haldi will take part in an official dedication of the Meyers Lake sign.

"Meyers Lake and its 144 acres of spring-fed water is the ninth largest of Ohio's 110 glacial lakes," begins one portion of the plaque's text, which was composed by Haldi. "Meyers Lake Village was incorporated in 1927, with 144 acres of land, equal to the lake's size," starts the text on the other side of the sign. "In 1816, Andrew Meyer bought Lake Wells and 1,000 acres of surrounding land from Bezaleel Wells, Canton's founder, renaming it Meyers Lake."

Historical significance is recognized

The Comet, an icon of area history, officially was recognized with words and in monument form by Stark County Park District, beginning a handful of years ago, when four of the pylons first were placed in Stark Parks locations by a team of Stark Parks workers led by Construction Manager Rob Hoover.

"History is like a rollercoaster," noted a posting in 2019 on the Facebook page of Stark Parks.

Maintaining the amusement park analogy, history has "ups and downs, and surprises at every turn," the posting said, crediting Haldi as the source for both the words and the amusement park history that they recalled.

"Sometimes the ride is experienced once and then only the memory remains," the posting continued, before explaining how the park's mission crossed paths with a cherished memory from Stark County's past.

"We are honored to keep a local memory alive from the former Meyers Lake Amusement Park thanks to a local family," the posting continued.

Roller coaster history offered

In recent emailed correspondence, Haldi nostalgically recalled additional history about Meyers Lake Amusement Park and its roller coaster.

"Those roller coaster pylons (to which the roller coaster's stabilizing guywires were attached) were the means for keeping the tall, wooden coaster structure from toppling over in the wind," Haldi explained.

The historian also recalled that the pylons dampened "the constant vibrations caused by speeding coaster cars filled with screaming kids (and adults), coaster cars that day after summer day, morning to late evening, roared down that coaster's famous first dip (a heart-stopping 86-foot drop), before whipping and jostling back and forth around the many scary curves and jerky ups-and-downs that followed."

Wider bases, buried beneath the ground, helped the pylons provide support for the coaster structure.

Haldi said that The Comet, installed 75 years ago, was in use during the years after World War II, until the park closed in the 1970s. Still, "this last popular roller-coaster" was "only one of numerous coasters that existed at the amusement park since the first coaster was introduced by the original Andrew Meyer's grandson, Edward J. Meyer, in 1883."

"The Comet was arguably the single, most popular attraction that beckoned Stark County's youth to spend a day at Meyers Lake," Haldi said.

"For adults, on the other hand, it was more likely the Moonlight Ballroom, or during warm summer evenings, the delightful Moonlight Gardens, that stunning outdoor ballroom that overlooked the lake and was surrounded by thousands of petunias, that drew adults to the park, time and time again."

Pylons from the last roller coaster at Meyers Lake Amusement Park, such as this one at Sippo Lake near Exploration Gateway, are being used as historical markers by Stark County Park District to recognize both Meyers Lake and a former Meyers Lake mayor, Diana L. Stadelman.
Pylons from the last roller coaster at Meyers Lake Amusement Park, such as this one at Sippo Lake near Exploration Gateway, are being used as historical markers by Stark County Park District to recognize both Meyers Lake and a former Meyers Lake mayor, Diana L. Stadelman.

Pylons adorned with plaques

Plaques placed on the pylons simultaneously recall that history of Meyers Lake Amusement Park and also offer additional inspirational words.

The smaller plaque on each of the pylons identifies the park ride, but a second larger plaque on each of the pylons reflects on subjects related to the locations.

"Lookout...Beyond," suggests a plaque on the pylon placed atop the hillside overlooking Sippo Lake near Exploration Gateway, alluding to the fire tower – "The Lookout" – that once occupied the hilly area. "Think Big, Dream Big," the plaque adds, before noting the name of Diana Stadelman.

Another plaque Tracy Stadelman had attached to a pylon on Stark Parks' "Mother's Day Trail" also alludes to her mom. "Mother's Day," the plaque reads. "Today, Tomorrow, Forevermore."

And a third plaque attached to a pylon reflects both on the sturdiness of the stone and the steadiness of the woman who was mayor of Meyers Lake Village for almost three decades. "Stand Strong ... Forevermore," say the words on the memorial that was dedicated in 2018. Again, the name of Diana L. Stadelman is memorialized on the monument.

Finally, two of the plaques pay respect to the places where the pylons to which they are attached are located.

"Honoring Wild4Ever Conservation Foundation," says the plaque on the pylon at the Flight Cage at Sippo Lake's Wildlife Conservation Center. "In recognition of their generous donation to construct this raptor flight cage and for many years of service and generosity to Stark Parks."

And the plaque on the pylon that was dedicated at Petros Park three years ago honors some of the people who participated in that ceremony.

"In commemoration of a ceremonial first walk by local first responders on May 30, 2019, The Mindfulness Walk is dedicated to them, and open to all seeking the benefits of being mindful."

Reach Gary at gary.brown.rep@gmail.com. On Twitter: @gbrownREP

The Mindfulness Walk at Petros Park is one of the locations now marked by a plaque on a pylon from "The Comet" roller coaster, dismantled when Meyers Lake Amusement Park closed in the 1970s.
The Mindfulness Walk at Petros Park is one of the locations now marked by a plaque on a pylon from "The Comet" roller coaster, dismantled when Meyers Lake Amusement Park closed in the 1970s.

This article originally appeared on The Repository: The Monday After: Honoring Meyers Lake village, park