Early, Really Early, Lake Bracken
By Terry Hogan
I have written a couple of articles on the history of Lake Bracken and I donÕt have a lot of new things to say. It was constructed in the early 1920Õs to meet the demands of the thirsty steam locomotives of the CB&Q Railroad. It served that purpose for many years, while also becoming the Knox County Country Club. This name was later changed to Lake Bracken Country Club. It is now incorporated and no longer affiliated with the CB&Q.
Nearly all the old structures associated with the pumping of water from the lake to serve the needs of ÒThe QÓ are gone. The old pump house was demolished some years ago to make room for some new building lots. The old brick tower that was the intake still remains sticking out of the center of the lake, but the old conical roof has collapsed with time and rot.
The primary reason for this article is to reproduce and distribute some early photos of the construction phase of Lake Bracken that were generously provided to me by Lowell Griffith. Apparently the original photos have been in his family for years.
Two of the photos show that at least some of the construction work was done by mule power. A careful examination of the photos will show that there were six mules harnessed to the front of the wagons and another two mules that appear to have been firmly harnessed in a method to push the wagon. The front and rear mules appeared to have separate drivers. Given the configuration of the wagon, it appears to have been some type of earth mover. It is equipped with metal wheels and the man standing in the wagon bed appears to have a wheel to adjust something. Perhaps it is an early grader, accounting for the high horse (oops, mule) power? IÕd like to say I recognize where the mules were located, but I cannot.
Two other photos show the early pump house, taken from what would become the lake bottom, and the water intake structure. A careful study of the latter will show a temporary raised road was constructed, presumably to stay above the rising water level, to finish some task.
Finally, the last photo is a distant photo of the old, and dearly loved, club house that burned. Two things are worth noting. Although the ground floor is complete, the top floor was missing the two wings of the building that served as the Òping pong roomÓ and the dining room. They obviously were added at a later date. As Lowell pointed out to me, the old swinging bridge is not in the ravine next to the clubhouse. As the bridge was constructed in 1928, that places this photo in the mid-1920Õs era.
ThatÕs about it. No keen insight. It is just about some neat old photos that have survived and have been generously shared by Lowell Griffith with those of you who care about Lake Bracken and its early history.