Picnics were an important part of Indianola's business.

Back in the early 20th Century, Americans were joiners. People belonged to all sorts of lodges, clubs, orders, brotherhoods, and associations as well as churches, political parties, unions, and trade federations.

One thing these disparate groups had in common was that they all held a summer picnic for their membership.

Indianola offered shelter houses, picnic tables, and extensive woodsy grounds that were perfect for summer picnics. The park's amusements, pool, dance pavilion, live entertainment, restaurants, and concessions were just the thing to assure a good time was had by all.

Indianola's Picnic Grounds

Its location in the state capital and near the geographic center of the state helped Indianola pick up lots of state convention business.

Indianola was also popular for company picnics put on by area firms.

Groups which held picnics at Indianola over the years included: Buckeye Steel Castings employees (and probably the grandfather and great-grandfather of the two Presidents Bush), Bell Telephone employees, Union Stores employees, postal employees, The Ohio Grocers' Association, Columbus Railway and Light employees (possibly including President Richard Nixon's father), The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, The American Federation of Labor (addressed by Samuel Gompers), Women's Association of Commerce, The American Legion, The American Insurance Union, The Jewish Welfare Society, The International Bible Students Association, The Buckeye Republicans, The Woodmen, The Exchange Club, the West Side of Columbus, and scores of churches and Sunday Schools.

Rustic Bridge sepia

Access to the picnic area was across a rustic wooden bridge done in the popular early 20th Century "Adirondack Style."

To serve picnickers' needs, there were standpipes, numerous picnic tables, swings, and a shelter house that could accomodate 200.

Later in the park's history, there was also a covered sandbox and playground for young children.

The park's athletic fields were available to picnickers for races, contests, and games.

Back in the day, Indianola's picnic area was a sylvan delight. "Picnic Valley" was forested, shady, and criss-crossed by several small streams,

Rustic Bridge other view

Some of Indianola's picnic area is preserved today as the playground and athletic fields for Indianola Middle School. The massive red oaks and sycamores growing there today are the same trees that once shaded Indianola Park picnickers.