Resurgence of “The Million Dollar Playground”

Indian Lake proper wasn’t always a State Park. In fact, the area has had a rich and unique history. The lake began in the mid-1800s as a reservoir for the region’s canal system. By the early 1900s, the “reservoir” was evolving into one of the Midwest’s favorite summer resorts. It eventually earned two nicknames: “The Million Dollar Playground” and “Atlantic City of the Midwest.” Among the impressive attractions were an amusement park, hotels, cottages, campgrounds, beaches, dance pavilions, music halls, gardens, nightclubs, and illegal casinos.

The amusement rides and grand hotels of previous eras are now history. In 1949, Indian Lake became an Ohio State Park, managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. However, the resort lifestyle of the past is being revitalized by new developments like Longview Cove.

A Four-Season Destination

Indian Lake offers recreation all year long. Boating and other water sports are the favorites during warmer months. The rural areas surrounding the lake showcase natural landscapes for sightseers and bikers. People consider the lake among the best natural and stocked fisheries in Ohio, even during ice fishing season. The area is also an important resting stop for migrating birds, and birdwatchers may even spot a bald eagle. In addition, winter ushers in back road snowmobiling and skiing at Mad River Mountain, only 20 miles away.

Local Dedication to Water Quality

The clean water that creates the conditions for year-round recreation has been made possible by restoration and preservation projects. The lake’s high quality is the result of efforts in maintaining excellent land use management within the watershed. Initiated in the 1980s, the project is a model of cooperation between government and private interests. Boaters and fishermen enjoy exploring the 5,800-acre recreational lake and all of its coves and natural island clusters.