Visitor: What's with all
the liquor stores?

A friend visiting Covington was taken aback by all the liquor stores along and near Fourth Street.

"What's with all the liquor stores?," he asked incredulously. "Must have a lot of drunks around here."

Not quite. Most of the places sprung up when Ohio had severe restrictions on buying alcohol, forcing people to go to controlled State of Ohio stores to buy it. Plus, it was expensive to buy.

Entrepreneurs in Covington and Newport set-up shop for residents of Ohio, just cross the bridges to imbibe with no restrictions and at a much better price.

"There were some tales of the lovers' leaping into the lake, but the lake does have a bottom and it is fairly deep in the middle.

"It is fed by natural springs and is cold all year around. Too cold to swim in, I can vouch for that."

The writer, who did quite a bit of research, continued:

"When I was about 10 or so, a few of us from the 15th & Scott area belonged to the Behringer Museum up on the top of the Quarry Hill and we were also members of the Christopher Guist Historical Society that is on Greenup St., just South of 7th.

Jerry Berry, Bernie Kramer, Mark Grogan & Mark Eaton diving in Prisoners Lake. Didn't find anything. via Kenton County Public Library.

"Some of us members of the Explorer Club used to go to the Museum on Saturdays to learn about the Indian artifacts in the collection there. The interurban street cars that ran out through Park Hills and Lookout Heights and along Dixie Highway through Ft. Mitchell to where the Frisch Restaurant was or is now, was the transportation at that time. There were no buses.

"Well, one hot summer day we decided to try a swim in Prisoners Lake but it was so cold and slick and deep that we quickly changed our minds and went down to the Licking River at the east end of 15th Street, under the C & O Railroad Bridge, instead.

There's more from the writer who identifies herself as Barbara:

"Some time in the 50's, 1950's that is, Prisoners Lake was drained so that repairs could be made before the dam collapsed.

"There were a couple of cars, and a few slot machines found. I don't think that there were any bodies or human remains found, but it wouldn't surprise me at all since there was a "mob" war going on during that time period.

"There were a few mob murders, with bodies found in various areas of Cincinnati and Northern KY.

"One them was a mob member from Jimmy Brinks of the Lookout House who was found shot to death in his car up on the Highland Ave. hill in one of the lovers' lane parking places.

"That guy had about $50,000 in cash on him when the police searched the car. That kind of money couldn't be kept by anyone, since it belonged to the mob. I knew the detectives that did the investigation."

Barbara's account pretty much follows others who have posted about the lake at The Covington News' Facebook page.

Tim Farmer and Tim Slone look for fish in Prisoners Lake in 1992. No mobsters were found! via Kenton County Public Library.

And here's how Prisoners' Lake came about:

A stone quarry existed in the Devou Park area before the Devou Family presented the property to the city for use as a park. In 1916, the Covington City Commission proposed that prisoners from the Covington Jail be put to work in this quarry. A rock crusher was purchased and several small storage buildings were constructed near the quarry, reports the Kenton County Public Library.

The impetus behind the decision to send prisoners to the quarry was financial.

At this time, Covington was spending $18,000 per year for crushed stone for use in building and repairing city streets. Early estimates indicated that the Devou Park operation would save the city at least $10,000 per year.

On April 17, 1916, the first prisoners from the jail were transported to the quarry in the park and were put to work crushing stones," the Library noted.

The operation was not initially successful. Prisoners were typically escorted to the quarry by a single guard. In the first few years of operation, a number of prisoners found the quarry a convenient place to escape.

Over the next few years, the level of the quarry was steadily lowered. By 1924, the quarry had been transformed into a large lake appropriately called "Prisoners' Lake."

The story of Prisoners' Lake is definitely -- Covington Cool!

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Overhead decorative lighting over Pike Street could make the area a little more exciting.

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Owners of the Mike Fink riverboat restaurant had hoped to open an entirely new eatery by Opening Day 2013.

Changes inside
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Not only is the Kenton County Public Library's Covington location on Scott Street physically expanding but with it, of course, comes lots of changes inside.

History of tolls around Covington >
The new bridge crossing the Ohio River and the Brent Spence Bridge will probably charge tolls. Here's a look at some of the toll roads and bridges from our area's past.