What sort of lake list is that?

EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK

BY ART CULLEN

Storm Lake don’t get no respect. “Where you from?” Storm Lake. “Is that where the roller coaster is?” No. That’s Okoboji. I’m from Storm Lake. “Is that where Buddy Holly died?” No. That’s Clear Lake. I’m from Storm Lake. It’s where the meatpacking plant is.

And the lake. Iowa’s fifth-largest (used to be fourth, until we made Frank Starr Park). The state’s best walleye lake. And quiet, thanks to the fact that ain’t nobody here but us chickens.

So quiet that it doesn’t make the list of Iowa’s top 17 lakes put up on the World Wide Web by Travel Iowa, the state tourism office. The list of top lakes is compiled by attendance.

We don’t rank with Lake Geode. Or Pleasant Creek (a creek is a lake?). Or Lake Ahquabi, for crying out loud. For serious, who has ever heard of it except for some boys who worked there during the Great Depression?

If Storm Lake doesn’t attract more visitors than Viking Lake than I will drink a hatful of lake water — from Storm Lake, not Viking Lake. You never know where that lake has been.

We probably have more people today at the King’s Pointe Waterpark than Pine Lake near Eldora gets all year. For sure more beer cans are left behind by campers in Storm Lake than there are in Eldora, and that only speaks to volumes, not quality, of campers.

We should leave it at that.

And say this:

This is the most beautiful lakeshore community in Iowa.

Bar none.

The lake is getting clearer and deeper by the year, thanks to the Herculean efforts to dredge it driven by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Since the state has spent so many millions of dollars restoring it, one would think the state would try to promote it.

We are happy to promote it to ourselves.

It’s always been that way.

We never got a state park like the Iowa Great Lakes, Clear Lake or Black Hawk Lake did. Or Pine Lake, for that matter.

Sen. Tom Harkin said even back when Casino Beach had a casino, Storm Lake was the “poor man’s paradise.” His coal-mining family came up here once for a rare vacation.

Storm Lakers never minded that much that we weren’t overrun every summer like Arnold’s Park or Clear Lake are. It makes for a different community. I moved from Clear Lake to be in Storm Lake.

We have invested more than $40 million in public and private funds to redevelop the north lakeshore. We have a huge, recently remodeled campgrounds with golf course and resort next door. We have two marinas, one on the east and one on the west side. We have more public access on this lake than any other in the state. The LakeTrail on the north shore is a constant stream of visitors every day and night, winter, spring, summer and fall. I do not count as a visitor when I walk through Sunset Park on a glorious October Sunday morning. Buena Vista Beaver fans tailgating on the lakeshore before a football game are not visitors, either. They are just here, not being noticed.

So yeah, it sort of honks us off in Storm Lake when the state tourism agency puts up an ad with the headline “Iowa’s Top 17 Lakes” and we are not on the list. Not that we are paying attention, or anything. But we do have hotels and great restaurants and bars that could use a little love every now and again. Like, we do have a lake, and it is not a dammed-up river or a glorified gravel pit. It is among Iowa’s few glacier lakes, 3,000 acres of sun and fun if you care to visit.