Life at Alice Lake
Since Dave and Amy’s folks were separated, their mother chose to keep their childhood house at Alice Lake. The lake community was as large as the town north of it and once held the stature of being its own municipality, complete with a town hall and post office.
Alice Lake became a popular spot for vacationers (many from Pittsburgh) in the 1920s and was made part of Ridgewood in 1957. By 1970, both communities were approximately two and one-half miles wide from Preston Road west to Baldwin Road east. The length of the combined communities was four and one-half miles.
I made Alice Lake a spring fed glacier-made lake one-half mile wide and a little more than one mile long, 8 acres, and with an average depth of 26 feet along a kettle bottom with holes as deep as 50+ feet.
Surrounded by approximately 750 private homes and cottages, the lake was picturesque with its quaint cottages and beautiful homes. Visitors could rent a room anytime at Richard and Melissa Bay’s Bed & Breakfast—a charming and spacious Folk Victorian home. They could tour the Alice Myers Museum—a colorful Gothic Revival House—every Tuesday through Saturday and acquaint themselves with the lake’s namesake. They could browse Ellen Waverly’s art gallery and buy excellent local artwork. And they could shop nearly every day at the twenty specialty gift shops, which sold a mix of country and Victorian knickknacks not found in city chain-stores. Antiques were also a specialty, and Johnson’s Antiques and Auction was less than a mile away at downtown Ridgewood.
The Pennsylvania Fish Commission maintained the lake and its two public boat launches. The lake was used recreationally for swimming and fishing and for boating (with a 10 horsepower limit). There were rentals of pontoon, paddle or canoes at Maguire’s Boating, Fishing and Hunting, which was open year-round. For the angler, Alice Lake was stocked with pan fish, bluegill, perch, sunfish, walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, and small and large mouth bass. For the hunter, the area was bordered by many public game lands.
In the winter Alice Lake was widely used for ice fishing. Although many of the roads winding around the lake were dirt or gravel, the State maintained them well. Other winter activities included snowmobiling sponsored by the lake park’s Recreation Hall. The entertainment hall had a 24-lane bowling alley and a heated indoor swimming pool.
During the summer, there were fishing contests and kayaking, sailing and canoe rowing races on the lake, and go-cart racing and miniature golf at the Recreation Hall. A fireworks show was displayed on the lake every Fourth of July.
Tourists and locals could sip wine coolers and dip lobster in drawn butter on the patio at the Mill Pond Restaurant at the south side of the lake while kids swam and slid down the fabulous water slide into the lake. Or they could have great pizza—homemade and hand stretched—and subs and calzones any day of the year at Connie’s Pizzeria.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner were inexpensive pleasures at The Roundhouse. Once the lake’s roller rink, it was converted into a restaurant and dining hall after fire nearly destroyed the building in 1966. The Roundhouse hosted dances and live music every Saturday night from June until the end of September.
The south side of Alice Lake comprised an Amish community, so it was common to see Amish buggies traveling the lake roads no matter the time of year.