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Goodyear playground becomes state park
State buys former company park to allow public access and create 75th state park
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


Reporter
Tim Rudell
 
Ohio's newest state park is a former retreat for Goodyear employees.
Courtesy of Tim Rudell, WKSU
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In The Region:
Something unusual is happening in a corner of Portage County. Tucked into the rolling countryside near the Stark and Summit county lines, a new state park is opening...and WKSU's Tim Rudell reports that hasn't happened anywhere in Ohio for nearly 25 years. It's also happening at a time when the state park system is facing big environmental and financial challenges.
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Timeline for Wingfoot Lake, Ohio’s newest state park
1916: Goodyear buys 720 acres southeast of Akron in Portage County
March 1917: Construction of blimp hangar and Navy airships begins
1917-21: Operated as a U.S. Naval Airship Training Station. Training site of first Nay airship pilots
July 19, 1920: Hangar fire destroys two airships filled with hydrogen
1925: Goodyear builds first U.S. commercially licensed blimp in 1925
Through late 1941: More than 100 airships erected and flown at Wingfoot Lake
1942: Hangar lengthened to 800 feet. Goodyear’s small hangar relocated from East Coast to Wingfoot.
1943: Goodyear dedicates memorial plague at Wingfoot Lake for "Navy officers trained at Wingfoot Lake who gave their lives in the course of airship development"
1942-1944: 104 Navy airships erected at Wingfoot Lake
1945: Wingfoot hangar used to make helicopter and airship parts and telephone transmission antennas
1949-1955: Employment reaches 700. Fifteen Naval airships erected, tested, and delivered to the Navy.
Late ‘50s: Wingfoot  becomes the most complete radar test facility in U.S.
1962: Name changes to Wingfoot Lake Test Operations
1972: Wingfoot closes; is placed on “caretaker” status. Volunteer fire departments use buildings for firefighter practice
1974: Goodyear uses part of hangar for development of gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
1985:  Department of Energy cancels gas centrifuge program.
1980-2006: Goodyear operates Wingfoot as recreational area for Goodyear employees and families, including a miniature golf course, baseball fields, volleyball courts, fishing, and boating
2006: Goodyear closes Wingfoot
2009: Ohio Department of Natural Resources purchases land, adding 86 acres
 
Wingfoot Lake Facts
·         Nicknamed “The Kitty Hawk of Lighter-Than-Air”
·         When Goodyear first acquired the land for Wingfoot Lake, it included one of Portage County’s original homes, built by Abraham Himebaugh in 1845.
·         Initial length of Wingfoot Lake hangar: 100 feet wide, 90 feet high, 200 feet long. Doubled to 400 feet.
·         Figure balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade were test flown at Wingfoot Lake in the 1950s.
·         The largest non-rigid airship ever flown, the ZPG-3W at 1,465,000 cubic feet, was built at Wingfoot Lake.
·         At its peak, nearly 100,000 Goodyear employees visited Wingfoot Lake every year.
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