Closing of valve start of new era at Vesuvius

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

For nearly three years, Lake Vesuvius, a popular tourist attraction in Lawrence County, has looked more like an open field.

Monday, the process of turning that open field into a place where people can go fishing, boating and swimming began when the dam valve was closed. This signified the end of a project aimed to greatly improve Lake Vesuvius.

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Over the course of the next several days or couple of weeks - depending on Mother Nature - Lake Vesuvius will take a more familiar look. This is something that truly excites us.

The lake was drained in January 2001 for a more than $5 million improvement project which included work on the dam and boat ramp and the construction of a boardwalk and fishing pier. During this time, much of the 143-acre recreation area of the Wayne National Forest was closed.

While it was necessary work, Lawrence County suffered somewhat during the project. Many out-of-towners utilize the lake and, consequently, spend money in Lawrence County. With the lake drained, these people took their money elsewhere. However, when spring arrives, these people will return to a much-improved Lake Vesuvius.

These improvements will add to the recreational value of the lake and make it even more attractive to lovers of the great outdoors. The boardwalk, for example, will offer visitors the opportunity to view the beauty of the lake and forest in a way they have never been able to before.

This project did not happen without pains. Funding snafus delayed it a bit, much to the dismay of the community - especially those who frequent the lake.

We strongly feel the wait will be well worth it when the community gets to see the finished project firsthand when the official reopening ceremony is conducted next May or June.

Lawrence County is fortunate to have a recreational area with as much value as Lake Vesuvius and people behind the scenes who worked hard to make the lake an even better place to visit.