Watkins Island Foundation, Inc.

George H. Watkins
“The Father of Buckeye Lake

As the Ohio-Erie Canal declined in the late 1800’s, the old “Licking Summit Reservoir” became a hodge-podge of semi-public water supply, waste disposal, and flood control. Although previously designated by the Ohio Legislature in 1894 to become a public park, little had been done to spur its development as such in the decade that followed.

A former canal superintendent, George Watkins was elected President of Ohio’s Board of Public Works in 1906. As such, he was responsible for the old canal lands – over 300 miles of canal and reservoirs, including Buckeye Lake. Working with local boaters and outdoor enthusiasts in central Ohio, Mr. Watkins was responsible for spearheading much of the early development of the lake. In recognition of his effots, in 1909 the Buckeye Lake Yacht Club officially changed the name of its home island from “Sunken Island” to “Watkins Island” in his honor.

It is in that same spirit of history and improvement, that the Watkins Island Foundation was founded to preserve our unique Buckeye Lake legacy.