Monday, April 15, 2013

Forgotten Stories on the Grand River

If Fairport Harbor is one of N.E. Ohio's best kept secrets, then the local boat clubs on the west and east banks of the Grand River are even more so. With Headlands State Park on one side and the protected harbor of Huntington Beach on the other, it was easy to see why recreational boating interests grew in the mid 1900's, just as the commercial fortunes of the area began to wane.  Mentor Harbor Yacht Club and Mentors Lagoons have been featured in earlier blogs.  Today we highlight three hidden gems situated on the Grand River less than 2 miles from the Lake.

Fairport Harbor Yacht Club
In April, 1949 a meeting of several local men at the Sunset Soda Bar on Lake Road in Painesville resulted in the start of a boating club.  Hiram Laird was the founder and first president.  J. Donald Smith, Carl J. Stokes, and John Killinen were the remaining officers.  Occupying the old B&O Railroad Company property, the club was first known as The Outboard Boating Club of Lake County.  A ladies auxiliary followed in 1951 as the club grew.  In time the powerboat focus of the everyman club gave way to other vessels.  1953 saw a Quonset Clubhouse constructed for members.  In 1957, the club leased the adjacent island property from the Diamond Alkali.  Twenty years later they bought the site outright.  A name change in '68 gave the club its current moniker - The Fairport Harbor Yacht Club.  The mainland property (1949) was acquired in 1979 to complete the FHYC holdings.

Grand River Sailing Club
Formed in 1972, the foundling members came from the Grand River Yacht Club, Fairport Harbor Yacht Club, as well as from other Grand River marinas of the day.  Located on Water Street in Fairport Harbor, the club occupies the old 19th c. coal dock location owned by the railroad.  Dinghys and moorings were the norm in the early years.  Nick Frankovich leased the property and is generally credited with putting in the first docks.  During the decade of the '80s, Jerome T. Osborne gained control of the site and made many of the changes currently in place.

Grand River Yacht Club
Since 1940 the club has been located on River Street on the west bank of the Grand River.  Fifty slips, a pool, patio, and newly constructed clubhouse (2009) comprise the club assets.  Within walking distance of two local Grand River seafood houses, its reciprocal docking arrangements with many boating and yacht clubs make it a popular destination.

sources - Dennis Steffy,, and

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