Tag Archives: west okoboji lake

Spending Time at the Lakes in Siouxland, Arnolds Park

14 Aug

As summer winds down in Siouxland the area up around the lakes near Arnolds Park and Okoboji and others will begin to take on their fall demeanor. The trees turn color and it becomes very pretty, but the life begins to slow much like sap running through a tree. The lakes are a summer “thing” and people will begin to pursue other avenues of entertainment away from the lakes, except those who live there and others who like the fall.

The recent day I visited I had the chance to ride the Queen II and enjoy a cruise around West Lake Okoboji and learn more about its history. This was during the week. And while there were people about, the morning was pretty quiet as I made some photos and enjoyed a walk about.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Cruising Siouxland on the Queen II, Okoboji

2 Aug

On a recent visit to the lake region of Iowa in Siouxland which includes the communities of Arnolds Park, Okoboji and Spirit Lake, I finally was able to take a cruise on West Lake Okoboji on the Queen II. When the lakes region around Arnolds Park and Okoboji became a resort area, a boat named the Queen brought visitors out onto the lake and showed off the region. The Queen II continues that history.

The Queen II prior to leaving for a cruise around West Lake Okoboji in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Monday July 24, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A passenger gets a better view of West Lake Okoboji from the Queen II during a cruise at Arnolds Park, Iowa, Monday July 24, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The cruise gives a nice background history to the immediate lakes region and for those wanting to know more they can visit the Maritine Museum in Arnolds Park.

Capable of holding about 200 passengers, the skipper this day, Lance Freed, gave some general introductions then played some canned information that was informative and effective.

Lance Freed skippers the Queen II during a cruise around West Lake Okoboji in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Monday July 24, 2017, something he has been doing for 17 years. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Originally owned by farmers, the non-tillable area was sold off to various individuals who began selling plots of land to those who wanted a place on a lake. The then cottages, although still called that, were modest and small. Now some of them are multi-million dollar vacation homes, one is estimated to be worth $12 million. And the land itself around the lake, depending on which side, east or west, can run from $10,000 a square foot to $17,000 a square foot. Not your granddaddy’s little summer getaway.

Passengers taking a cruise on the Queen II around West Lake Okoboji in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Monday July 24, 2017 can see mutli-million dollar homes, euphemistically referred to as cottages, which line the lake shore. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But for the average Joe and his family, people can bring their boats, fish, waterski and pursue other summertime activities on or around the water and still enjoy a nice day out. I personally like being near the water but am not exactly a water person and not one to get in it and splash about. But on a warmish day with a breeze, it is hard to beat and just fun to learn a little more history about the area.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City,

Siouxland Summer, Arnolds Park

19 May

I recently visited the Lakes Region in Western Iowa, specifically Arnolds Park, to check out the area of its amusement park. It has one of the oldest roller coaster rides in the United States and some other shops along its board walk. It also has a cruise boat that people can purchase tickets to and ride around the lakes, imagining the more genteel days of the late 1800’s when the first boat was put into service.

This is history located on a website about Arnolds Park amusement park: “The Arnold’s Park resort was established in the 1880s by W. B. Arnold, and the town of the same name came later.  There were no early coasters.  Following Arnold’s death in 1905, the property was divided into two parts.
The part containing the original amusement park passed into the hands of Dr. A. L. Peck.  The park was called Peck’s Park approximately from 1917 to 1945, although it came under new ownership in 1935.  After subsequent sales, it was Lawler’s Park (or Lawlor’s–newspapers are inconsistent on the spelling) from 1946 to 1950, and then Arnolds Amusement Park beginning in 1951.  This park had three roller coasters, each replacing the previous one, and built in essentially the same location. The adjacent property (to the SW) resulting from the division was developed as Stevens Beach (by 1908) and later as Benit’s Park (around 1922).  The owners incorporated as Lakes Amusement Company in 1935. Although under different ownership, the two amusement parks had contiguous midways and cooperated in most advertising and promotion.  The two parks with the names Arnolds Park and Benit’s Park continued at least until 1968.  It isn’t known when the parks came under joint ownership but a 1985 item suggests this happened in the early 1970s.”

This information is provided about the Queen II: “In the late 19th century, the lakes region became a resort area and the small steamboats and sailboats could not keep up with the flow of vacationers. The Queen, a large steamer, was constructed, along with other larger boats, to accommodate this new need. By the 1920s, the construction of roads around the lakes brought about the demise of most of the fleet. The Queen stayed in service for those people who wished to see the lake by water. In 1973 the Queen was finally retired, after 89 years of service. The Queen II was commissioned and built in 1986 and she was designated the “Flagship of the Iowa Navy.”

I plan to go back there during the summer, understanding that at times the crowds and traffic and be quite overwhelming and to see the attraction in all of its glory.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


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