When a city bears the same name of the lake it’s located on, you can bet the lake is a big part of the city’s culture. Clear Lake, Iowa, is one of those cities. The Clear Lake population is 7,777 (based on the 2010 census), but in the summer months it isn’t unusual to have more than double that in the city, especially on the weekends, as visitors throng to Clear Lake to enjoy recreational activities and attractions. One of those attractions is the Lady of the Lake cruise ship, which offers narrated public cruises all season long.
The 1940s-era L-shaped brick building in Clear Lake, Iowa, looks rather plain from the outside. The only indication of the building’s fame is a memorial marker noting the deaths of three 1950s rock-and-roll stars. The Surf Ballroom is the last place that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson played before they lost their lives in a plane crash just a few miles from the ballroom.