Tue, Aug 25, 2009
Photo courtesy of Elaine Anderson; Information from Forman’s Century of Progress Centennial Book
Lake Lithia has been a focal point in Forman since the town was founded. It has provided recreation and occasional hazards. It is the only thing that has always been a part of Forman is Lake Lithia, before there was a town until now. True, it was much bigger before so much fill took place, but it remains much as always. No true Formanite would ever allow it to be called a “slough.”
We have not been able to find how Lake Lithia got its name. Perhaps it was named for a town or lake back East, or a fondly remembered friend or relative of a pioneer. In an old 1887 newspaper, there was an advertisement for a Lithia water product supposed to be great medicine. This was made in New York. Lithia is an element; maybe we can stretch our imaginations and conclude it was named for its mineral content and benefits. We will probably never know for sure.
“In 1899, Joe Lewis built a wharf and boathouse on the east bank of Lake Lithia, where fishermen in years to come would launch their boats.” This is according to an old newspaper item from September 1899.
When the old schoolhouse stood across the lake, school children had a shortcut in the winter when the ice became thick enough to hold their weight. In the early days, there were few buildings or trees to break the wind and it was a bitterly cold walk to school. Thus, the shortcut was most welcome.
In the spring, after the ice went out, the south winds sent high waves over the bank and sidewalk on the north side. Pedestrians were forced to walk down the street. Waves, also, brought up ugly creatures that we called “slough puppies”. They looked like a cross between a bullhead and a lizard.
Recess and noon hour found most of the kids on the ice skating or sliding. “Kick the can” was also a popular game. After school and evenings found skaters again for more fun and for all around the bonfire.
Lake Lithia…long may she continue to be a constant reminder of the way it was.
Reprinted from the Sargent County Scoop, June 27, 2009