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Summit Lake's Hidden Treasures

by Lance Gideon

When most people think of Summit Lake State Park they think of fishing, boating, camping, hiking, and swimming. One thing park guests probably don’t think of is farming, but they should. Summit Lake State Park was created on land, which up until the 1960’s, was farm ground.  

I recently ventured out to Summit Lake to test out my new camera, I had no intention of posting a blog, but I found something that was way too tempting to not write about. While walking in the woods portion of the park’s Trail 1, I spotted an old piece of farm equipment that I believe may have been on park property since Summit Lake’s pre-state park days. 

I have walked this portion of Trail 1 several times, but during the summer months, while the trees are covered with leaves. I have never walked it during the winter months, without the leaves and undergrowth. In this barren state, I was able to see things I have never seen before, including the farm equipment. 

When I first spotted it, it appeared to be old propane tanks that may have been used to heat an old farm house. As I inspected closer, though, I could see that it was some piece of old equipment, one source suggested it may be a 40’s to 50’s era Tomato/Seedling Planter. I decided that I had to get a closer look, and walked right up to the object in question. It was obvious it had been there a while.  The sapling trees had even begun to grow around it.

Seeing the old equipment reminded me of the fact that Summit Lake has history as farm land. The land was bought from farmers in the late 1960s and early 70s by the Big Blue River Conservancy District. That land would eventually become Summit Lake State Park. While looking at the old equipment, I couldn’t help but think of Monument City, which was flooded to create Salamonie Reservoir; the town was seen again in 2012 for the first time in nearly 40 years due a recent drought. In fact, according to officials at Summit Lake, there are at least 3 old farmhouses that remain under the lake. And the remnants of the Messick Road can be seen across the lake from North Dock.

Like Summit Lake, many Indiana state parks and reservoirs have a unique history. So, take a visit to your nearest state park and find out the history of these beautiful locations. 


Published: 02/26/2013


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