Izaak Walton Lodge was originally built by Mr. A.F. Knotts and was completed in 1924, serving as a winter retreat for his wealthy northern friends. Mr. Knotts was a lawyer and civil engineer who helped plot the city of Gary, Indiana.
He had many well-known guests for short visits including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and a few presidents. The area boasted some of the finest hunting and fishing to be found, both then and now.
The name Izaak Walton refers to a 1600’s era Englishman that was an outdoorsman and was particularly concerned with water conservation. In 1630 he published “The Compleat Angler”, a guide to fly fishing, and has stood the test of time still poplar and in print today. The Izaak Walton League was formed as a conservation group and named in his honor. There are currently ~250 chapters nationwide. Mr. Knotts, who was also familiar with his works, similarly paid tribute by naming his lodge The Izaak Walton Lodge.
At this time there were many local fishermen, and those left over from the phosphate days of the early 1900’s, who came to call the area Yankeetown, and as hard as Mr.
Knotts fought against it, he finally gave in and embraced the name. He even erected “See Yankeetown” signs throughout central Florida. (Read about The Origins of Yankeetown’s Name Here)
Phosphate was a booming industry in the region. It was brought by trucks and trains to Dunnellon and then loaded on barges and taken down river to the gulf where an island city was created by Captain Inglis, another entrepreneur of the time, and name-sake of the city of Inglis. The phosphate was then transferred to ships and taken back to Germany and other parts of Europe to make gun powder. Recognizing the danger of the unstable European countries rearming themselves after WWI, the federal government shut down the export of phosphate, thus halting the main commerce.
Mr. Knotts and his family continued to live in Yankeetown for the remainder of their lives. Some descendants still reside here. The sleepy little town was re-awakened again briefly in 1961 when Elvis spent the summer here filming his movie “Follow that Dream”. Hwy 40 now bares the name “Follow That Dream Parkway”. Many locals were here then and recall his visit fondly.
In 1999 the original lodge was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt in the same foot print.
Izaak Waltons is located in Old Yankeetown where tall Oak and Pine trees line Riverside Drive. Fishing here has always been good. Many commercial shrimpers, Yankeetown fishing charters and guides dock their vessels in the deep-water channels of the Withlacoochee. This also provides protection from storms and bad weather.