New vertical lift at Van Hook loading station

Submitted Photo From left to right, Arden Eide, Mountrail County park board member and Van Hook resident; Joe Iverson, New Town resident; Justin Ritts, Van Hook rec area manager demonstrate the new vertical lift at Van Hook Recreation Area.

Van Hook Recreation Area has brought something new to its loading station. Earlier this week, a demonstration and dedication of its new vertical lift loading station for those with limited mobility was held. The lift, which is battery operated, will help people who can’t easily get on to boats and pontoons to be able to still enjoy them with more accessible access.

The lift is located at the boat launch area of the Van Hook Recreation Area and is open for public use. The lift is like a regular pool that has been designed with a vertical lift application. To increase the range of the lift to allow for loading up and over a standard pontoon boat’s railing, it was installed on top of a poured concrete platform with an accessible ramp, placing it at a maximum height of seven and a half feet.

“You better not be afraid of heights because you are going vertical,” said Park Manager Justin Ritts.

People wishing to use the loading station must stop by the Bait Shop to get the battery pack and safety instructions prior to use. Equipment will be available during normal business hours, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily.

The idea for creating the loading facility came from camper Justin Radamacher back in the summer of 2017. Park Managers Justin and Dawn Ritts researched and designed the project and were able to make the dream a reality this spring due to generous funding from the Slawson Exploration Company.

Park manager Dawn Ritts said, “The oil field is in our backyard and that isn’t always our favorite thing, but we are happy to call Slawson Exploration our neighbor. They realize that they have an impact on our area and they have continued to support recreation focused improvements at Van Hook to ensure that much of that impact is positive.”

Contributions from Slawson Exploration in the past few years have brought a rural water kiosk into the park, helped to build a playground, added swimming docks to the day use beach area and have helped build the new fish cleaning facility.

Van Hook Recreation Area, located in Mountrail County on the Van Hook Arm of Lake Sakakawea, is a popular summer destination for many families in Western North Dakota. According to traffic counters installed by the Army Corps of Engineers, Van Hook is actually the most visited park on Lake Sakakawea.