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Fire destroys historic Indian Lake cabin

A piece of Indian Lake history was lost Saturday morning when fire destroyed an 84-year-old log cabin on Red Oak Island.

cabin fire

Smoke from a cabin fire rises high above the trees on Red Oak Island Saturday morning. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

Firefighters from Lakeview and Indian Joint Fire District water team responded by boat about 8:15 a.m. to a fully-engulfed structure fire on the island, located near the Moose Lodge on the lake's north side.

The cause of the blaze has yet to be determined, Lakeview Fire Chief Norm Spring said. The cabin is "a total loss," he said.

No one was in the structure at the time of the incident and no injuries were reported.

The cabin was constructed with creosote-treated telegraph poles, which helped accelerate the blaze, Chief Spring noted.
Owner David Bohla had reportedly been doing work at the property Friday, but officials do not yet know if his activities that day may be related to the fire.

Mr. Bohla, past president and trustee of the Indian Lake Historical Society, purchased the property from the widow of the late Herman Neu in 1972, becoming only its sixth owner since 1875.  

Although the cabin, which he doubts can be rebuilt, may only be worth a couple thousand dollars it was "priceless" to Mr. Bohla in terms of its historical value.

The local history buff said Mr. Neu and the island's previous owners had ties to Kenton and Hardin County, starting with its first owner Timothy Downey who purchased the island from the state for about $18.

Charles H. Schanafelt was another owner.  A real estate developer in Kenton for many years, Mr. Schanafelt helped organize the present day Hardin County Community Foundation.

Mr. Bohla said Neu hunted for water fowl on the island in the 1920s with professional baseball player and later manager Billy Southworth, who played for teams in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Boston and New York during a 13-year career.

Mr. Neu built the cabin for recreational use in 1929. The Delco-Light plant employee used gas-powered generators to provide the remote structure with electricity in the years before it was available to such locations.

Firefighters were on the scene for almost three hours initially, and were called back a short time later when the blaze rekindled.

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