Joe’s Fun House was one of our 2016 Heritage Trail signs.
How many of you rode the fire wagon as a child?

The GOTL Summer Fun Heritage Trail


Is a series of interpretive signs along Route 531, “The Strip,” or business district of Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio’s original and oldest summer resort town! For decades GOTL Ohio has been the summer playground of choice for tens of thousands of northeast Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania residents. One village native has aptly called it, “The working man’s Cape Cod!” 

This site is dedicated to our visitors, who have given Geneva-on-the-Lake its vitality and longevity.

Interpretive signs at important sites

tell the big story of the resort. Look for 30 of these signs along The
Strip with more added every spring!

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Signs are just the beginning

to learning about our resort town. A QR code on every sign links visitors to a webpage at this site, where we will archive video interviews, photos and narratives about the location.





The Virtual Museum

contains information on many more sites that are not marked with a sign. On these pages you will find photos, advertising, narratives, anecdotes and videos.

This is an interactive project

Use the comment form to email your story or memory. If you have photos or video available (even 8mm/super 8mm/16mm film) of your GOTL visits, let us know in the email and we’ll make arrangements to add it to the site!


book kohleLooking for a book about GOTL?

Wendy Kohle’s “Geneva on the Lake, A History of Ohio’s First Summer Resort” is the source for GOTL history. Published by The History Press, it is available at Rees’ Drug Store, The Lodge and Conference Center’s gift shop and several other retailers in the Geneva area. The GOTL Visitor’s Bureau, on the west end of The Strip, also has the book for sale.


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Stay in touch with Ashtabula County

by subscribing to The Ashtabula Wave, our county’s online newsletter that features stories about the people, places and events in Ashtabula County. We’re more than a summer resort and destination; Great Things happen in Ashtabula County every day. Be a part of it!



who make the trail and this website possible are:

county-A-graphicAshtabula County Board of Commissioners/Lodging Tax (creative support and web administration)




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The Civic Development Corporation of Ashtabula County (CDC)

Geneva-0n-the-Lake Visitors Bureau



Stop in and visit us while in town. We are on the west end of The Strip, near the village recreation park.







Leave a Reply

Our guests remember:

Hickory Court:

My father built Hickory Court in 1946. (Bob Jeffers) Does any one remember the motel and cottages? We sold it in the 60's. Doubt it's still there and wondering its history after the sale. I remember many fun summers at the lake. Loved a little doughnut shop, trampolines, the lake and a little ice cream place on the way to the lake.

Summer crush

Dancing at the Cove and drinking rum and Cokes. Huge summer crush on Doug Treadway

Michelle Turner

She wanted to dance

My family, mom and dad, a two year older sister and five year younger brother went on vacation every year to GOTL for a week. We rented a cottage close to the beach and as I was only 13 years old, all of us children were carefully watched both at the beach and walking the strip. I will always remember Eddie's Grill, the arcade and all the booths set along the sidewalk that sold cheap trinkets and being cautioned not to buy anything by my mother. I especially remember going past a bar that had loud music and dancing couples you could see inside the open door and wished I could go in and dance. Of course, I was too young. Now I'm almost 70 and would like to revisit GOTL but I'm not sure it would ruin all my memories or bring them all to life. I am going to revisit GOTL soon.

Jane Susa

What nostalgia!

I remember Mac's bar and all the beer (that) Jack and Dan Kilker, Ken Petrocello and I drank as young guys, 1965-68. Uncle Don Rose played trumpet for the burlesque shows and we got in free to see the ladies. Great place then and we grew up in Ashtabula.

Dr. Joe Rose, MD

Eddie's Grill

Does the article about Eddie's Grill ever bring back memories. I was surprised to read that Eddie Sezon was still alive. He has been there actively for 65 years. I was one of the college students that had a summer job working the grill. We stayed open until the early hours of the morning so that we could accommodate the patrons of the bars that closed at 2:00 and the Burlesque performers. Our biggest tips came from the grand ladies next door. They were usually dressed to the 9’s. I remember Erma the Body strolled in with two very large dogs and more jewelry than I had ever seen before. My tenure was from 1961 through 1965. After graduation, I worked the evening shift at Eddie's Restaurant in Geneva and taught school during the day. My work history at Geneva-On-The-Lake, however, goes back a long way. As I read the comments at the bottom of the article, I found someone who talked about delivering Plain Dealers at the Lake. I also did that from age 8 until age 12. It was not always a pleasant job. The cottage people in the late 1940's and 50's were a mixed bunch. When the weather was really hot, a few vacation folks would hand you a cold soft drink as they paid for their paper. On the other hand, some were crude, critical, and cruel to the newsboys. I had things thrown at me. Cuss words and slammed doors were common. Mike Bartko was very demanding and set unreasonable quotas of papers to be sold each day. Yet, it was one of the few job available for a boy my age. It prepared me well for the regular PD paper route in my neighborhood. One of these summers, I will make it back to GOTL and gobble up a foot-long hot dog and root bear at Eddie’s Grill.

Jim Williams

Kraziest Sweatshirts

When Chuckie gave up on the Archery, my brother and I ran it for three more years. Pat and Ron started Kraziest Sweatshirts Inc, but Pat turned the operation over to our mother, Margaret Vogel. Ronnie did do custom designs on weekends. he extended his enterprise into Ellwood Adv. and created designs for almost every school, fraternity and athletic team in the Mahoning Valley over the years.

John Vogel

Since the '60s

Well I have been coming up here since forever in the 60's; love this place, up here now 2015 August still love it saw lots back then but we were from Greensburg Pa. and this was a new world for us now we stay up at the Geneva Lodge wonderful place to stay and still bike around the town looks the same. Strange to see it looks the same .

JoAnn Ersick

Mary's Kitchen

I was an employee on the Mary's Kitchen staff every summer from 1995 to 2003, when W. David Jones and his wife Janey were the owners. It was a great place to spend the summer working and making money that would typically last me for the year. Regarding the property records--I always heard that there had been two Marys: the original one and her daughter who was also named Mary. When I worked there, there were some old framed photos in the back showing the kitchen staff including the original Mary and a few other photos of her. She was always turned to one side in the photos since she had lost sight in one eye. Also during my time at Mary's there were still some staff who had worked for Tom and Barbara Breen.

Joseph Virant, Houston, Texas

Many fond memories

Oh the fond memories of GOTL and staying in Chestnut Grove!...Dad worked in the Steel Mill in McKeesport PA. First few years we camped in a tent. Dad, Mom, my little sis and myself.. then on to a 13' Scotty Trailer with a canvased awning attached to the camper that held the picnic table and of course a fridge purchased at the second-hand shop from town of Geneva. Dad drove back for the weekends after working the week. Worked at Edie's Grill summer of 1964, taking cold showers at the bath house and washing out my uniform each night and hanging it on the line to dry for the next day of work. Well worth the sacrifices of home to be at the lake all summer. Many good memories of beach time and great suntans and of course sitting around a camp fire and for me the walk to the strip to get a donut at Madison's and to sit and watch people from one of the many benches set through the strip. Met my first husband whose family also camped each summer at the grove. Many fund memories for sure!

Janis Garofalo Remington

As good as Paris

Our family would go every summer for vacation. Our memories of GOTL are as good as vacationing in Paris. Loved Eddie's and Pete's Grill, and playing Fascination, but the highlight of the trip was getting up in the morning and going to Madsen's donuts. To this day, I remember smelling the aroma of the bakery a block away! Also, will never forget going to the GOTL beauty contests at a small theater on the strip.

Levy Family, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Chestnut Grove

Our family began to go to Chestnut Grove Park in the middle 30's. We lived in a tent for almost the entire summer. At some point in the early 40's my Dad bought the third cottage from the East boundary from the James family for $100. It was paradise we were on the Lake front and had the entire world in front of us. All of my sisters, my cousin. And i worked at Madsens Donut Shop. My sister Maureen probably started in the early 40's . Pappy Madsen said he would hire me when my chin was over the counter. That happened in 1945. I folded boxes for fifty cents an hour. I worked every summer until I graduated from Duquesne and went into the Navy. We came a few days after school finished in Braddock, Pa. And stayed until the day after Labor Day.

Paul O'Connor

Memories for a lifetime

Started coming to GOTL in 1965, in my 1955 Chevy 210-2dr. Coupe. The drinking age was 18 back then, for 3.2 Beer. We visited the Castaway and The Cove. Enjoyed all the Food and Attractions along The Strip and stayed overnight at whatever Motel had room for us. Madsen's Donuts the next morning or a stainless steel type Diner beyond the bend where 531 leaves The Strip. I was recently on my Nostalgia Tour in GOTL. Footlongs at Eddie's, Dinner at Mary's Kitchen.....the BEST Sirloin Tips over Noodles EVER. Stayed at the Eagle Cliff Inn with Lu & Jerry. Rode the Ferris Wheel and bought a Silver Pinky Ring from the nicest 2 older shopkeepers on The Strip. Memories for a Lifetime !!

Joseph C. Casato

Paper Boy

As a paper boy, delivering Mr. Bartko’s Cleveland Plain Dealers to those in summer cottages on the east side of GOTL (with my BJ Baker bought black gold pin striped Raleigh English racer), I came to know where people came from by what they said to me when I rapped on their screen doors early in the morning. I would often begin on Monday morning with a question, which was posed in my pure (as some say) northeastern Ohio dialect: “Plain Dealer?” Rarely did anyone come to the door but rather many would yell back through a darkened room; “’Youn’s got a Pittsburg Press?” “Nope”, I would reply. I knew that these people were from Pittsburg or western Pennsylvania and may not buy a paper from me on the first day of their vacation, but would buy a Plain Dealer on the second day, as I know “youns won’t be able to find a Pittsburg Press unless youns go back to Pittsburg”.

“Hey kid, you got a Vindy”?” “Nope…just Plain Dealers.” These were Youngstowners who often came from “Struders” (Struthers) or Camel (Campbell). Like Pittsburghers, they loved their hometown newspaper, but would often give in to a Plain Dealer by Tuesday. “Plain Dealer?! Great kid! Bring me one every morning including the Sunday paper. Here’s an extra nickel for pinball. Hey kid, how did those Indians do last night?” These were Clevelanders. I struck gold and found a steady cottage customer for the week.

Mark Brunner

Before Mike's Triangle:

Love the trails site,I want to share a memory of the old bar that is now Mikes Triangle, can't remember the name, there was an old player piano in there!

Sent from iPad

Fries after midnight

So many memories-all the family would go up each year. Us younger ones (in our 40s would go to bed around midnight). The night owls would come in around 2 am with baskets of frys and shrimp from the chicken coup. They would wake us all up and we would eat all the food and stay up and have some more fun.

Donna Kopach Emailed April 7, 2015

The chant

I am one of ten children, eight boys and two girls. We grew up in Pittsburgh and a couple times a year (starting in the 1940's) my father would drive us to GOTL his continued as more children were born in the 50's & 60's. Imagine my father, mother, and 7 to 10 children all piled into a station wagon - they didn't have seat belt laws back then. As we got close to GOTL we would all sing "3 Cheers for our Conductor", then at the end of Route 534 someone would always yell "I see the lake". ... We always went to Chestnut Grove and have many fond memories.

Jim Geier

The Riot:

My memory of Burns Corner: I was there during the riots. I am curious to know if this was instigated by a group of bikers. I was hit in the rear end with an electrified cattle prod by a police man. I was just walking on the sidewalk. West End of strip.

Steve Kacin
Posted Feb. 26, 2015

Castaway Bar

I remember coming to Geneva on the Lake in the late 60's and the #1 bar togo to was The Castaway on 534. Also the Circus Circus, & the Electric Zoo. The entrance to the Castaway was a huge contiki statue with gas flames coming out of its eyes! You entered through its mouth.Many fun weekends spent here.
Al McDonough
Feb. 26, 2015


We spent our honeymoon at Wigleys Perry Park from 08/14/1960 to 08/21/1960. In 1966, we moved to Euclid, OH and would bring our two children to GOTL several times during the summer to spend the day at the little amusement park, Eddie'sGrill, and bring home a box of Madsen Donuts. Happy happy memories for all of us.
Dr. & Mrs. Robert J. Holman
Feb. 22, 2015

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