BUCKEYE LAKE – Of all the places Howard Van Wert could’ve chosen to tour, he chose the Buckeye Lake Museum. “That’s an honor,” said museum director J-me Braig. “We’re thrilled!” Van Wert is a resident at Cedar Hill Care Center in Zanesville. Activity Director Karen Solt said the center sponsors the “Heart’s Desire” program, whereby residents can do “something they’ve always wanted to do” within a reasonable distance of the center. She said Van Wert, a former chemistry teacher and history buff, hadn’t been to Buckeye Lake since the 1960s when he described it as “the place to go.” Last week, Van Wert enjoyed a guided boat tour of the lake. “He was very fascinated with what the tour guide was telling him,” said Solt, adding that Van Wert wanted to know more about the area. So, when it was his turn for the Heart’s Desire program, he asked for a private tour of the museum. The museum staff was happy to oblige.
“I knew of Buckeye Lake, but I was interested to know more about the particulars,” said Van Wert. When asked if there were anything particular he wanted to know, he said, “The whole thing. I go on a large scale basis.” He was treated to an extensive private tour Wednesday afternoon.
Braig said she’s like to record Van Wert’s memories of the lake from the 1960s for a new DVD the museum is producing specifically about the Buckeye Lake Amusement Park, which closed in 1970 after an attempt failed to revive it as a Country Western theme park. She said the museum is gathering oral histories of the park now, and she’s looking for any 8 mm film footage of the amusement park days. Braig hopes the DVD, to be called “The Playground of Ohio,” will be complete in May. Filmmaker Bradley Theiss, who produced the Emmy-nominated “The Athens Asylum,” will produce this DVD as well. “This one’s totally about the park,” said Braig. She said the museum staff is always pleased to arrange tours.