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Lake of the Red Cedars Museum

Updated on December 16, 2015
The Lake of the Red Cedars Museum is located on the shore of Cedar Lake
The Lake of the Red Cedars Museum is located on the shore of Cedar Lake | Source

Location

The Lake of the Red Cedars Museum is located on the shore Cedar Lake, in a town also known as Cedar Lake. It is in Lake County, which occupies the northwestern corner of the state of Indiana. The nearest major metropolitan area is Chicago, which is just across the Illinois state line.

Cedar Lake's Glory Years

The Lake of the Red Cedars Museum is located in the former Lassen Hotel, the lone survivor of 42 hotels that flourished during Cedar Lake's resort era. Although settlement of the area began decades earlier, it wasn't until 1870 that the Cedar Lake Post Office was established. The area began to grow rapidly after the Monon Railroad came to the western shore of the lake. Before air conditioning, when summer temperatures rose, people went to lake areas looking for cooler temperatures. Because of its proximity to Chicago, Cedar Lake got a lot of visitors. Between the 1890s and the start of the Great Depression in 1929, the railroad dropped visitors off on the west side of the lake. A steamboat circled the lake, picking up passengers at the train station and stopping to let off passengers at the piers of the various hotels. Nearby Crown Point, Indiana had no waiting period for marriage licenses, and became known as a marriage mill. Many couples married in Crown Point and honeymooned at Cedar Lake.

In winter, the ice industry was big at Cedar Lake. Up to 150 workers, or "Ice farmers," cut and shipped out blocks of lake ice during the winter. Most of it went to Chicago, which was a big meat packing hub in those days. Sometimes disputes arose over the boundary lines of ice territories. Many of the workers were hoboes who were not paid until they were placed on the train to leave town. This was because none of the local merchants wanted them in their establishments. Part of the Lassen Hotel was built on the other side of the lake as a boarding house for these workers in 1895. It was sold to the Lassen family, who had it hauled across the frozen lake in 1919.

Cedar Lake Depot in its Heyday
Cedar Lake Depot in its Heyday | Source

Post World War II

After World War II a Christian youth group purchased the hotel and used it as a church camp. The property was bought by the city in 1977, and town officials contemplated razing the structure to make way for city offices. The Cedar Lake Historical Association was quicky formed, saved the building, and began operating the museum. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. The museum contains numerous interesting exhibits, including tools used by Dr. Scholl, who apprenticed at his grandfather's shop in Cedar Lake. At that time, left and right shoes were identical, instead of being contoured for the left and right feet.

Cedar Lake Area

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