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Ellston, Ringgold County, Iowa

Quentin and Rita ANDERSON enjoyed the pristine beauty of an area located near Ellston. Not only did the ANDERSONS enjoy the land but they felt it should be preserved for the enjoyment of others. The ANDERSONS' researched several other lake developments in other states, thinking that the 1,500 acre tract of timbered hillsides would be an ideal spot for a recreational facility.

In 1969, applications were made to the State of Iowa, the land was surveyed and cleared. ANDERSON, who had experience in conservation work and owned construction equipment, began to realize his dream.

First, thirteen silt pond dams were constructed to filter water into the main 500 acre lake. The idea of a silt pond dam was ANDERSON's idea which met with support by Ringgold County engineer Mr. SICKELS. The purpose of a silt pond dam was to catch and filter out silt before the water emptied into the main body of the lake. Although several other engineers thought that the plan was a waste of time and would not work, ANDERSON proceeded to put his plan into action.

Three years later, after seeing how successfully ANDERSON's plan worked, those engineers began using silt dams in other watersheds.

Currently Sun Valley Lake has 26 silt ponds which filter the water. The valley filled with natural springs, surrounded by the rolling hills of Southern Iowa which are abundant with oak and hickory trees. Sun Valley Lake has gained a reputation as the cleanest water in the State. It has been stocked with bass, walleye, catfish, and crappie for fishing. Other recreational facilities provide boating, skiing, jet skiing, tubing, swimming, and golfing with a country club called "Fish Tales". Sun Valley Lake provides winter activities such as ice fishing, ice skating, and evenings by the fireside.

Housing along Sun Valley Lake gives people either a vacation hide-away, year-round residency, or a place of retirement.

Today it is a state recommendation and over the years more silt ponds have been built.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, June 29, 2014

By Mike Avitt

Quentin Anderson was born May 7, 1932 near Ellston and graduated from Ellston High School in 1949. But before graduting high school, he secured a bulldozer and began to construct farm ponds. This continued into the 1950s and Quentin started to think about building a lake.

Quentin married Rita Hewlett in 1957 and engaged in the construction business as well as politics. In the late 1960s, he began buying land adjacent to his own for the construction of Sun Valley Lake. Much planning went into this project and permits required were seemingly endless. Other lakes were studied and professional input was solicited. The surveying and clearance of brush commenced in 1969.

Construction continued in 1970 and 1971. Thirteen silt ponds were built in a fairly small watershed. The natural springs and a previously unknown, former creek bed caused extra work in the building of the dam. Finally, the dam ws closed in September 1972.

There was concern about how long it would take for the lake to fill with water. Some predicted it would take years but the lake was nearly full by May 1973.

An advertisement in the Record-News announces an open house on November 13, 1971 for a model home at the lake built by Yoder Construction. Quentin and Rita purchased this residence.

Another advertisement, this time from 1972, says that the first subdivision lakeside lots would go on sale May 27th. Dr. Charles Lawhead was the first to buy lakeside lots. Vince Dukes, Carl Riggs, Harold Cooper, and Donald Wood were some of the first people to build homes on their lots.

In 1972, Sun Valley Lake was an 500 acre lake with a 1,500-foot long dam. Lots were approximately 16,000 square feet and roads around the lake were being completed. Electrical service was available on both sides of the lake, service having been installed by Rideta Electrical Cooperative. Construction on four homes and the marina had begun.

The Mount Ayr Record-News of April 4, 1974 announces the opening of Fun Country Marine operated by Cal and Linda Boord. June 14, 1975 was the opening night for the Sun Valley Country Club Restaurant and Lounge with Bud Breckenridge as the manager.

Quentin and Rita sold the lake development to the Patton Coporation in 1988. But it all started with a young man using his bulldozer to build a farm . . . and a vision.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, June of 2014

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, March 12, 2015, Page 1

Sun Valley geese almost ready to swim

The warm weather recently is slowly but surely melting the ice on Sun Valley Lake in Ellston, allowing the local geese population opportunity to swim in open water after the long winter.


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