1921-1940 Boom to Crash


Clear Lake State Park developed.

The dance hall at Whitaker’s Pier had a balcony where mothers could proudly keep an eye on their daughters and see how well they danced, or perhaps how one looked in her new organdy dress. It was not uncommon for the girls to “stag it” to the dance, going and returning home with their parents. The men stags were also plentiful.
On the Fourth of July in order to accommodate a large number of dancers they held dime dances. The floor was cleared after each dance and dancers were held back of the railing and admitted to the floor couple by couple by the presentation of a ten-cent dance ticket for each person.


Lincoln School was built on corners of S. 8th Street and S. 4th Ave. It was closed in 2008.


William Burkhardt established a bakery, loved and remembered by visitors and residents as the Clear Lake Bakery.


Advertised in the Clear Lake Reporter:  An 80 ft. lake shore corner lot, in fine location at Methodist Camp for $900.00.  Easy terms. A North Shore 40 ft. lot with 140 ft. depth this side of Clear Lake golf grounds, with sewer, water and pavement paid for.  $600.00.

New convention center in Clear Lake:  An association of Clear Lake businessmen called Community Building Association has purchased the old Idelo on the lake shore and remodeled it as a new convention center.  School basketball games, soft ball tournaments, basketball games by independent teams, in addition to various conventions and farm meetings will be held in the building.

Four hundred people attended the dedication of the DAR memorial monument in City Park.

Governor John Hammill, Governor of the State of Iowa, vacationed in Clear Lake for two weeks staying at the “Pair a Doc” cottage on North Shore.

Fifty men arrived for work.  Clear Lake is to be the center for a division of Great Lakes Pipeline Company, a pipeline carrier of refined gasoline


Tornado strikes on Aug. 27, 1931:  Hail, rain and windstorm destroys the White Pier, a popular dance hall at the foot of Main Street, sending part of the roof into the side of the Park Theater building.  Various cottages were damaged and destroyed, the roller coaster at Bayside was demolished and the storm overturned the Princess excursion boat and killed Miss Bessie Rust of Algona.

The City Council votes a wage cut for city officials saving $90.00 per month.

An underground pedestrian passage is being built under the busy Highway 106, the road that divides the Clear Lake State Park.

Zion Lutheran Church celebrates its 60th birthday.  The annual budget of the congregation is about $3,000.00.

The Wayside Inn on South Shore is open for diners and dancers on July 2nd.

The Depression is to be forgotten at New Years Party to be held at the Community Building.  Sponsored by the Commercial Club and the Civic League, novelty numbers, melodrama, mysteries and their solution will be featured.


 Tom Gates of St. Paul, who has leased the Petersen Bathhouse for ten years, announced that he would remodel the building and open the dance hall as early as the season would justify.  The new dance hall is named the Tom Tom.

With ice on the lake less than five inches thick, the annual ice harvest has been delayed longer this season than it has for many years.  New Years Day, several men were employed to move a 30 acre patch of thin, slush ice out into the lake.  The ice was first broken from the shore.  Men with boats and pike poles then pushed the great mass of thin ice out into the lake.  This was done by backing the boats against the ice and pushing the boats along with the poles.  The work was slow as any quick or violent pressure would have broken the slushy ice.

The new Tom Tom ballroom and an adjoining cottage burned to the ground and was destroyed.  It was the dance hall converted from the old Petersen Bathhouse, built just a few months ago.

The first North Iowa Band Festival was organized in Clear Lake by John Kopecky, the Clear Lake Music Mothers and the Clear Lake Commercial Club.  An estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people attended.  A nationally noted composer conducted a massed band concert of over 350 musicians.

Eighty to 90 carloads of potatoes and 34 cars of onions were being shipped this year by Sam Kennedy and his Red Globe Farms to markets in Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Des Moines.


Witkes Kool Stein Cafe, later known as Witke’s Restaurant, opens on the Lake. The last restaurant in this location, Docks, was demolished in 2007 and replaced with condominiums.

Clear Lake was the third city in Iowa to enjoy the advantages of natural gas.  Council Bluffs and Mason City being the other two.  The gas was turned on Tuesday night.

The new Surf Ballroom on the lakeshore on North Second Street held its opening dance Monday night with about 700 couples present.  Wally Erickson’s Marigold orchestra of Minneapolis furnished the music. The new Surf was constructed on the site of the Tom Tom ballroom which was destroyed by fire last year. Mayor W. H. Ward dedicated the new hall and C. J. Fox, manager, spoke briefly promising patrons the best of dance orchestras and entertainment.
The Roof Garden, a new feature for a Clear Lake dance hall, is 16’ x 100’ located on the side facing Wellmon Beach, overlooking the lake.  The floor will be suitable for dancing, music coming through huge windows opening onto the ballroom.

Corn is King.  February 24th has been designated as Corn Day for Clear Lake and Clear Lake leads the nation in pioneering a movement to restore farm prices.
The Clear Lake Commercial Club will be honored for starting the first Corn Exchange bank in the United States to pay the farmer nearly three times market price for his corn.          
The Clear Lake Commercial Club, through the Corn Exchange Bank, paid 25 cents per bushel for ear corn in Corn Money redeemable at local retail establishments during the national banking holiday which started Saturday.
Local merchants offered extra price cuts over the weekend to boost the value of the corn money.
Approximately 12,200 bushels of corn was purchased and $3,000 of First Iowa Corn Money was issued to farmers.  Downtown streets were filled with cribbed corn and Clear Lake received nationwide publicity for this effort to boost the local farm economy.


Clear Lake Bank and Trust established.

John Dillinger  and his gang robs the First National Bank in Mason City and hides out from authorities in the West end of  Clear Lake. 


The Clear Lake Yacht Club was organized and is now racing several classes of sailing scows and operating a sailing school for kids from beautiful, new, yacht club building at the foot of Main Street.


Interurban electric passenger railroad service discontinued. Freight service continues today. A tower of ice stands in the City Park.  Freezing temperatures and overflow from the Standpipe water storage facility, in the middle of City Park, formed a huge solid icicle, 80 feet in the air.  1936 was one of the coldest, snowiest winters Clear Lake has experienced with snow drifting over the cottages and homes and blocking the roads on the South Shore and the road to Ventura.