Clear Lake Historical Society
1941-1969 War to Prosperity


December 7, 1941, a day that lives in infamy, the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.  Casualties total 3,000.
The United States enters World War II. Clear Lake sends men to World War II while people of Iowa support the war.

Grant Wood takes up summer residence in the “No Care No More” cottage on the North Shore and converted an old railroad station into a studio.  “Spring in Town” and “Spring in the Country”, and the lithograph, “December Afternoon” were completed by Wood while in Clear Lake this Summer.


Off to build a highway
To aid the War effort, two area construction firms, Sears Co. and Duesenberg Co. help the U.S. Army build the Alaska Highway.

The Iowa State Supreme Court handed down a decision declaring that Lake Street or First Street (now North Lakeview Drive) from Jefferson Street (now 3rd Ave., North) to North Street (now 4th Ave., North) to be a public street and not a park.  Thus ended one of Clear Lake’s bitterest civic battles.  The City had been under an injunction for 3 years not to use the street as such but the Court decision held that the City had accepted and held title to the land since 1871. 

McIntosh Farm dedicated as a state park between Clear Lake and Ventura.


Old Surf Ballroom burned down. It was rebuilt a year later across the street at a cost of $350,000 by owner, Carl Fox. During the late 40’s and 50s many famous celebrities and bands played the ballroom. They included Guy Lombard, Lawrence Welk, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey along with many others. Pat Boone, the Crew Cuts, the Diamonds, Bill Haley and the Comets and many other name entertainers were also booked and played to full houses.

Camp Tanglefoot – A parcel of land, 9 ½ acres located on Clear Lake’s south shore was purchased by the Mason City Kiwanis Club to be used as a camp for Girl Scouts. The work was done mostly by volunteers. The camp lodge was built on a hill overlooking the area. The camp was originally known as Camp Gaywood until 1995 when the name was changed to Camp Tanglefoot to reflect its location on the south shore. In August 2007, the camp celebrated 60 years of Outdoor Excellence.

1948, Woodford home removed from Island


Clear Lake Centennial Celebration – This was held on July 14 & 15. A centennial coin was designed by student Neil Slocum. There was a free pageant held at the Lions’ Field. There were also displays of old time farm machinery & equipment, antique displays, Indian villages, balloon ascension and other entertainment. A time capsule was buried in the southeast corner of City Park covered by a replica of the centennial coin. It contained copies of Mirror-Reporter, 1951 phone book, 1951 city directory, seed corn, beans, seed oats, and many pictures. Congratulations were received from Lt. Gov. W.H. Nicholas, IA Senator Hickenlooper, Cong HR Gross and Arthur Godfrey.



Sunset School Elementary opened.


Ludwig Wangberg Bandshell – Clear Lake’s earlier band shells were in the center of City Park until the new band shell was constructed and dedicated on June 19, 1955. It is located at the lake end of the park so patrons attending functions can also view the lake. Lud Wangberg came to Clear Lake High School after the retirement of Clear Lake’s only other band director, John Kopecky in 1951. The band shell was renamed the Ludwig Wangberg Bandshell in 2001 in recognition of his 50 years of service to the community. Though Lud retired in 2006, the Wangbergs still reside in Clear Lake.


Bayside Roller Coaster – The infamous Bayside roller coaster located on the south shore of Clear Lake in the Bayside Amusement Park was sold to Roy Law for salvage. The roller coaster had been rebuilt by owners Howard O’Leary and Jack Shea after a tornado had damaged it in 1942 . This officially ended the Bayside Amusement Park which had at one time been a landmark for family entertainment in the area. The land was then sold to Mason City realtors for what is now a lakeside housing development.


Rock and roll star, Buddy Holly killed in a plane crash after leaving the Mason City - Clear Lake airport. On a wintry night in early February, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) who had just finished their performance at the Surf Ballroom were heading for a play date in South Dakota took off from the local airport. Their plane crashed just north of the airport killing all on board including the local pilot, Roger Peterson. A marker is displayed in the rural area where the plane crashed which is visited yearly during the February Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom.

New High School opened.

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Historical Sites in Clear Lake