Life's Better Here: Hamilton 2013

By Eric Olson

July 4, 2013 Updated Jul 4, 2013 at 5:58 PM EDT

HAMILTON, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - Hamilton Indiana is a gloriously quiet town that owes its existence to the lake that bears its name. And like most lake towns in northeast Indiana, life around Hamilton takes on a different character when summer arrives.

Hamilton was platted in the 1830’s and prospered serving local farmers year ‘round and tourists in summer…folks who’d ride the train in from places like Fort Wayne, Detroit and Chicago, and take water taxi’s out to cottages on the lake…many of them at the cold springs resort.

Robert Watkins family has owned Cold Springs Resort on the east shore of Hamilton Lake for more than a hundred years. The resort started out as a picnic and swimming spot…eventually a concession stand was added along with boat rentals and a few small cabins. In 1898 the Watkins family built a hotel and a bowling alley but the big draw was always the water..

“They didn’t have fast speedboats or anything like that,” says Watkins, “mainly rowboats and putting around the lake people fishing and enjoying the summer.”

Around 1920 the bowling alley was converted into a dance hall and for decades four nights a week dance bands would play through the summer nights as couples slid across the floor. In the late ‘50’s rock and roll bands replaced the dance bands.

“Beachboys were here,” says Watkins, “Yardbirds were here. So many stars back in those days because this was a main venue.”

Today the Cold Springs Hotel still welcomes summer visitors and the dance hall still entertains a couple of times a week. Many of the hundred-plus cottages are used year around now, often by families who’ve been coming here for generations.

“A lot of people come back and reminisce about the good old days,” Watkins says. “I was just talking to one before you showed up here, he’s staying in the hotel talking about how he had such a great time staying in the cottage over here when he was a kid. So many great memories.”




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