Two developments of the 1890s led to huge growth for destination recreation in the 1920s.The first was the invention of the automobile. In time cars became more widespread, particularly after Henry Ford introduced improved production techniques, thereby lowering prices so ordinary folks could adopt this modern luxury.
The other was the 8-hour day and 40-hour work week, first gained by coal miners in 1898. Shorter work hours meant workers had more leisure time and found new ways to fill their weekends. By the mid-1920s, south King County was budding with private resorts, most built on lakes, rivers, or scenic outlooks.
One of the most popular was Lake Wilderness, which once boasted three competing resorts: McKinney’s, Gaffney’s, and Dieckman’s. In time the Gaffney brothers consolidated the three and in 1950 built the Lake Wilderness Lodge, the architectural jewel of this 117-acre park.
Back in the resort’s heyday, the Otter Slide was one of the highlights of a trip to the lake. It was located at the southern-most part of today’s park in a small cove due east of the tennis courts, or about 750 feet south of the current swimming area. Some things never change – large numbers of summer thrill seekers still pack themselves into cars and drive to the modern waterslide parks.
Next week, more about the summer attractions which once enticed pleasure-seekers to visit Lake Wilderness.