In May 2021, The Museum at Lassen’s Resort at Cedar Lake re-opened its doors on the 100th anniversary of its initial opening to introduce the public to the newly-designed museum operated by the Cedar Lake Historical Association. New to the museum is a seven-room exhibit called The Story of Cedar Lake was made possible by a grant from the Indiana Historical Society funded by the Lilly Endowment.
The exhibit tells the history of Cedar Lake from its glacial formation through the early 20th Century when it became a site for harvesting ice to cool meat in the Chicago stockyards as it was transported by railcar.
The Museum at Lassen’s Resort is housed in the historic Lassen’s Resort Hotel. The exhibit wing of the building was originally situated on the opposite shore of the lake and constructed in the 1890s as the boarding house for the Armour Bros. meatpacking operation. Each winter, the company housed its workforce for about eight weeks while the crews harvested ice from Cedar Lake. Among the rooms in the Industry and Renovation Room, which gives background on the community’s contributions during the Industrial Age.
Later, when mechanical refrigeration made the ice harvesting practice a thing of the past, the building was acquired by the Lassen brothers, who had been operating their summer resort at Cedar Lake since 1896. It had a dance hall, buffet restaurant on piers over the water, a saloon, cottages, miniature golf course, orchard, water slide, and more.
In the winter of 1919, the Lassen brothers moved the resort building across the frozen lake to where it sits now and constructed the lakeside wing with a wraparound porch using lumber from the old ice barns. The grand opening of the expanded resort took place on May 7, 1921, so it was appropriate that the renovated and renamed museum held its grand opening on the same day – exactly 100 years later. It had previously been known as the Lake of the Red Cedars Museum.
The entire 20-acre parcel that Lassen’s Resort was situated on later became a summer camp from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s. When the Town of Cedar Lake acquired the grounds and buildings, the Cedar Lake Historical Association was formed in 1977 to save the hotel from demolition. It became the Lake of the Red Cedars Museum on October 18, 1986.
Also new this year is the addition of a 1947 International KB5 truck acquired from the Taylor Family, which operated the Taylor Ice Company. It sits outside beside the museum and welcomes visitors to the site.
The porch is filled with a row of rocking chairs, and nostalgic music plays through speakers as you look out onto the lake, which gives you a sense of what visitors to the resort experienced a century ago.
Be sure to mark your calendar for July 26-30, 2021, when the Cedar Lake Historical Association & Hesston Steam Museum are partnering to bring the science of steam power alive through lectures, museum tours, special programs, and steamboat rides. There will be daily trips on an authentic 1920 steamboat. Learn more.
Regular hours for the museum are Thursdays and Fridays from 3-6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 2-6 p.m. They also open from 3-6 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month when the Cedar Lake Farmer’s Market is taking place. For more information on the museum, events, and volunteer opportunities, visit lassensresort.org.