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Wingfoot Lake

Long before Wingfoot Lake and its scenic surroundings were dedicated for outdoor fun, they were pressed into service for the national defense.  In 1916, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company developed the rural property outside its Akron headquarters as a manufacturing facility for its navigable balloons.  The lake, which supplied water for the operation, was dubbed "Wingfoot" in honor of Goodyear's corporate logo – the winged shoes of Mercury, the fleet-footed messenger of the Roman gods.  

In 1917, as America became involved in World War I, the U.S. Navy contracted with Goodyear to produce nine innovative blimp airships at the Wingfoot plant.  A blimp hangar was constructed on the south shore of the lake, along with workshops, a hydrogen plant, and landing fields.  Throughout the war, more than 600 Navy cadets came to Wingfoot Lake for flight instructions. 

The low-flying blimps proved indispensable for coastal patrols and antisubmarine operations, and the Wingfoot Lake facility remained the headquarters for Goodyear's blimp building business through World War II.  After the war, production was scaled back, but new uses were found for the blimps, which had captured the civilian imagination.  The lovable giants were recruited to fill a unique niche, hovering over stadiums to broadcast sporting events while sporting messages and advertisements seen by millions of fans watching from the stands or at home on their television sets. 

In the 1960s, Wingfoot Lake's north shore was thoughtfully developed as a recreational retreat for Goodyear employees and their families.  For more than 40 years, Goodyear employees and their kin gathered at Wingfoot Lake Park as part of their family traditions. Fittingly, the Goodyear Blimp carried the message "A great tradition continues" as it hovered over Wingfoot Lake during its 2009 dedication as an Ohio State Park.  Now, Wingfoot Lake belongs to every Ohioan – and the great traditions of building community and promoting a healthy, active, outdoor lifestyle can continue and grow for generations to come. 


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