Pymatuning Lake Known for Ducks, Fish and Torpedoes???
Pymatuning Lake is so big it is located in Crawford, Mercer, and Ashtabula counties. It's well-known as the place where ‘the ducks walk on the fish’ at the surface of the water. However, what may be under the water has been a mystery for years. Could there be World War II torpedoes down there?
"It's a very fascinating story here at Pymatuning State Park. We played a pretty significant role in the World War Two effort,” says Emily Borcz, Environmental Education Specialist at the park.
Torpedoes were manufactured a few miles away at the Westinghouse Electric plant in Sharon. The plant made MK-18 torpedoes which were electric, silent, and created no wake. More than 10,000 torpedoes were made there.
Anytime they made even the smallest little change to it, they would have to bring it out here and test it. So it was kind of a constant thing during the World War II time era,” Borcz said.
The torpedoes were brought to the southern end of the lake near the current Jamestown Marina. It's still called Westinghouse Bay. There's 10 miles of open water to the causeway up north. The testing, of course, was supposed to be secret.
"The military vehicles would be traveling down the road to the park and everyone kind of knew what was happening. So they would follow them onto the park. There were stories of kids on their bikes, riding their bikes down,” says Borcz.
There was no danger. The torpedoes were not yet loaded with explosives. The torpedoes were designed so they would float back to the surface to be retrieved after the tests. According to Borcz, those that did not float back would send bubbles to the surface to show the testers where they were located underwater.
"There are theories that there could still be one or two in the lake,” she said. “I doubt there are but the only people who would really know that would be the people that worked at Westinghouse."
Anyone who visits Pymatuning Lake can enjoy the ducks and the fish and the bald eagles and the sunsets. Perhaps they also should take time to think about the military history of the lake and the artifacts that may remain in the deep water below.
"We always say if you're out here fishing and you think you caught onto a log or something, it might be one of those old torpedoes,” says Borcz. “Probably not. But you never know."
There are plans to erect an interpretive panel at Westinghouse Bay to show the history of World War II torpedo testing along Pymatuning Lake.