Situated in the Town of Lewiston bordering the Tuscarora Reservation, Bond Lake Park on Lower Mountain Road is a great all-season recreational facility in Niagara County.

What few people realize is that the lakes were not originally there. In the early 19th century, when this area was first opened up for settlement, that area was developed as farmland. Sitting atop the lower slope of the Niagara Escarpment between Ridge Road and Upper Mountain Road, the area was owned by a number of families whose homes and barns dotted the park until very recently. One old brick home within the park still stands and is used as the administration office.

By the 1890s, limestone quarrying was taking place on the south side of Lower Mountain Road. In 1912, Empire Limestone, a division of the Lackawanna Steel Company, leased some of the land from the owners. The steel mill used the limestone in the furnaces of their Lackawanna plant. The limestone was shipped by rail, but over time the price to ship it grew steadily. The quarry closed in 1925.

Two stories detail the demise of the quarry. The first tells of a large dynamite blast that opened up an underground spring and quickly filled the quarry with water. The other relates that the quarry closed and Mother Nature slowly allowed the holes to fill with water over time. Either way, by the late 1920s, there was already the start of the lakes that are there today.

In 1927, Frederick Bond Sr., a former quarry manager purchased the property surrounding the quarry for $15,000 with the intent of developing it as a recreational area. The land that was not part of the quarry/lake area was leased out for farming. He offered to sell Niagara County 90 acres for use as a park but the offered was rejected. He later sold the entire property in 1949 for $25,000.

By 1964, Niagara County was in the market for a recreational park. Bond’s original 13 tracts were acquired by the county through condemnation for a total of $800,000. Other properties on both sides of Lower Mountain Road were later acquired. The park was then called Bond’s Lake Park. Eventually the “s” was dropped and it has since been known as Bond Lake Park. The need for winter recreation was addressed in 1976 with the addition of a ski slope, a toboggan run and a snow hill, all of which have since closed.

The park now encompasses more than 500 acres and is open year round. For more information on Bond Lake and other Niagara County parks, visit their Web site at niagaracounty.com and click on Parks and Golf Courses.

Ann Marie Linnabery is a assistant director and education coordinator for the Niagara County Historical Society and the History Center of Niagara.

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