Black Water Grill (Yankeetown, FL)

Black Water Grill (Yankeetown, FL)

The Ride

Sunday, Moto17Jax rode to Yankeetown, FL for lunch at Black Water Grill (formerly Riverside Inn –  formerly Izaak Walton Lodge).  Black Water Grill is on the exact location, and built on the same footprint, of Izaak Walton Lodge, which burned in 1999.  The structure today lacks the rooms which were on the second floor of the original building, however, otherwise retains much of the appearance and atmosphere.

Due to cool morning temperatures and the last remnants of a chest congestion, I decided not join the group on this ride.  It is that time of year where the temperatures can cause you to be cold at the beginning and ending of the ride, and sweating at mid-day.  Not conducive to eliminating a chest cold.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one dealing with congestion or a cold.  Plus, it’s the holiday season.  So a small group of 7 made the trip this weekend.  By all reports everyone had a wonderful time and gave the destination excellent reviews.  In my absence, Eddie took some video and stills and produced a short GoPro Quick Video

My next scheduled ride with the group will be Toys For Tots on Dec 17.

Izaak Walton Lodge (Now Black Water Grill)

Completed in 1924, Izaak Walton Lodge was the vision of Armanis F. Knotts.  Designed and built to serve as an outdoorsman’s retreat, the lodge was ideally situated amidst some of the finest hunting and fishing available.  In fact, both activities still abound in the area to this day.

As an American politician, lawyer and member of the Indiana House of Representatives,  Knotts had many wealth northern friends.  Friends he would host at the lodge.  As word spread, the lodge would eventually host such prominent individuals as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and several U.S. presidents. 

Himself an early water conservationist, Knotts, was familiar with and admired the work of 1600’s English outdoorsman and water conservationist, Izaak Walton.  So, it was only natural that Knotts would pay tribute to Walton by naming the lodge in his honor.  The conservation group known as “The Izaak Walton League” was also named in his honor and has approximately 250 active chapters today.  Walton’s definitive guide to fly fishing, “The Compleat Angler”, or the “Contemplative Man’s Recreation”, first published in 1630, is still in print.    

The lodge we visited was not built by Knotts.  The original structure, which had rooms upstairs, was destroyed by fire in 1999.  However, the current structure was rebuilt on the original footprint and provides the same atmosphere of nature and Old Florida enjoyed by residents and guests of the original lodge.  Much of the original atmosphere at the lodge is made possible due to the lodge’s location along the Withlacoochee River.  The River flows by on its way to the end of the road where it spills into the Gulf of Mexico.  It is not uncommon to see Eagles, Osprey, Tarpon, Snook and more from the bank of the river.

Armanis F. Knotts

Armanis F. Knotts (c. 1860 (1856)-October 3, 1937), also called A.F. Knotts, was instrumental in the foundings of both Gary, Indiana and Yankeetown, Florida.

Born in Ohio, Knotts eventually moved with his family to Indiana, where he attended district schools and later Valparaiso University.  After working several years as a teacher, Knotts returned to Valparaiso to study law.  While attending law school, Knotts was elected as county surveyor of Porter County.  However, upon graduation, he resigned the position and moved to Hammond Indiana, where he started a law practice.

Knotts continued to pursue elected office in Hammond.  Even before being elected to the Indiana House of Representatives he worked vigorously in support of a harbor on Wolf Lake for access to Lake Michigan.  Following his election to the Indiana House, as the joint representative of Lake and Jasper counties, he ensured the passage of the Circuit Court bill, which elevated the Superior Court of Hammond to the same level as the Circuit Court, and provided for the building of a new Superior Court House in Hammond.  In both his position in the Indiana House, and later as mayor of Hammond, he worked on bringing new industries into Hammond.

Armanis and his brother, Thomas Knotts, were also heavily involved in the development of the city of Gary, Indiana. In 1905, the United States Steel Corporation decided to open a new plant in the Midwest, and chose the current site of Gary for its location. They hired Armanis to act as their lawyer, and he worked to purchase the land for the mill, acting surreptitiously so as not to drive up prices. Soon afterwards the Gary Land Company was set up in order to lay out the town and supervise its construction, with Knotts as its manager.

In 1923, Knotts moved to Florida and founded the town of Yankeetown.  Knotts and his family resided in Yankeetown for the remainder of their lives.  Some of their descendants still reside there today.

(Note: Yankeetown was given its name by workers in the early 1900’s phosphate industry, which thrived in the area at that time, and local fishermen.  Presumably due to all of the northern visitors.  Knotts resisted the name but eventually gave in and embraced it.)