National Geographic : 1978 Jul
children over there at the Victory," she said, pointing a hundred yards away to the wood ed acreage that had once been the grounds of the 825-room Hotel Victory. "The Victory was a beautiful place, with ballrooms, gardens, and trolley cars that ran the two miles to the village. But the hotel was always in financial trouble." As I watched the sunlight streak across her timeworn face, I tried to imagine the ele gance of the huge wooden structure that had taken 350 master craftsmen more than three years to complete in 1892. "It was August 14, 1919," she said. "I was downtown walking around when I heard someone say the Victory was on fire. I rushed the two miles for home. When I got here, my father said if I wanted to save any thing in my room, I had better get into our house right away. Sparks and debris were falling all around us, and my father thought our house was a goner. But we were lucky. "The Victory burned all night and there was nothing anyone could do. It was just like losing a good friend. We all cried. That was about the end of the islands as a fancy place for the rich folks." Even the Tin Goose Has Bad Luck A series of disasters followed the burning of the hotel. Prohibition almost destroyed the wine industry. The turn-of-the-century resorts fell into decay. The sturgeon and sauger were fished out. And the lake began to choke on the mainland's waste. As if all that were not enough, an event as traumatic to islanders as the burning of the Victory occurred last year when the Tin Goose fell out of the sky. This flying red white-and-blue antique, the Island Airlines' Ford Tri-Motor known as the Tin Goose, was an important contact with the mainland once the lake froze over. Since 1935, when it first came to the islands, the Goose had Rare old bird, the Tin Goose of Island Airlines roars over Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial on South Bass. The venerable Ford Tri-Motor served islanders as school bus, taxi, ambulance, and moving van from 1935 until it crashed last year. Now undergoing repairs, the aircraft may return to the skies this fall.