In the midst of some of Ohio's most rugged, scenic territory lies 292-acre Lake Alma State Park. A quiet 60-acre lake and a gentle creek meandering through a wooded valley provide a restful setting for park visitors.
A wilder country than this in early days would be hard to imagine. Rocks and intermingled forests, Indians, wolves, wild game and snakes were more numerous than interesting.
After the Treaty of Greenville of 1795, the Indian threat in the Ohio territory subsided, clearing the way for settlement. The first geological survey of Ohio revealed that Vinton County was rich in mineral resources. Millstone, coal and iron ore provided the resources for flourishing industries.
The charcoal iron industry spurred growth in this Hanging Rock iron region. From 1818 to the turn of the century, thousands of acres of woodlands were cut to fuel the 46 furnaces in the region. At its peak in the mid-1800s, Ohio was the nation's leading producer of iron for implements and weapons. The millstones quarried along Raccoon Creek helped alleviate the dependence upon imported French and Pennsylvania buhrstone. The Raccoon Creek quarry was only one of eight millstone manufacturers in Ohio in the mid-1800s.
For a time, coal was an important Vinton County export. Its importance has waned in this century but continues to provide a boost to the local economy. The timber industry is the county's most important business today. Vinton County is the least populated and most heavily forested county in the state.
Built in 1903 by the late C.K. Davis, a wealthy coal operator, Lake Alma was originally constructed as an amusement park. The park then boasted a large dance pavilion, outdoor theater, a merry-go-round and several other rides. This attraction prospered only until 1910 and was later purchased by the city of Wellston for a municipal water supply. The city leases the area to the ODNR Division of Parks and Recreation for operation as a state park.