5,800-acre Indian Lake offers a variety of water-related recreational opportunities. Boating, fishing, skiing and camping are highlights of this 800-acre multi-use park.
Early American history tells of the Indian tribes who lived and hunted in this region. Because of its close proximity to the Miami River, Indian Lake became part of the Indian trade route linking the Ohio River to Lake Erie. Generations of native Americans followed this route and occupied villages in the vicinity. By the early 1800s, white settlers made their way here and the history books record many accounts of skirmishes and battles resulting from the conflict between the Indians and new settlers. The famous frontiersmen Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton were known to have traveled here.
Despite Indian Lake's popularity as a year-round recreational area, the lake was not originally constructed with that purpose in mind. In the early 1800s, the primary means of commercial transportation was the canal system. Old Indian Lake was built in 1851 as a feeder lake for the Miami and Erie Canal to maintain the required four-foot water depth.
Following the passage of a resolution by the Ohio General Assembly in 1850 to use Indian Lake as a water supply for the canal, a bulkhead was built in Washington Township where the Great Miami River began and covered 1,000 acres. The work began in 1851 and was not completed until 1860. The total cost up to that time was $340,000. Irish laborers performed the work with picks, shovels and carts. Ironically, use of the canal system was declining as work on Indian Lake was completed. In 1893, Indian Lake or Lewistown Reservoir as it was then called, spanned 6,334 acres with 29 miles of shoreline. On April 9, 1898, the Ohio General Assembly dedicated the lake as a recreation area by the name of Indian Lake.
Indian Lake became a popular resort area at the turn of the century due to its central location on the old Toledo and Ohio Central Steamline and the Ohio Electric Railway. At one time, Indian Lake was known as the "Midwest's Million Dollar Playground". In 1949, the old Department of Conservation was abolished and Indian Lake became part of the newly-created Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Recreation.