21Country: 100 years later, Berne swimming hole remains an oasis from summer heat

Pine Lake Water Park still a popular staple of community
Updated: Jul. 5, 2022 at 5:30 PM EDT
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BERNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - For a century, Pine Lake Water Park has been a family destination to beat the heat and have fun in the sun. It offers a wide variety of water-based activities like a splash pad, several slides, a zip line, paddleboat, bobbers, and three height options for jumping. “Definitely a staple in the Berne community,” park manager Andy Lehman said. “Several hundred people can be here at any given time on a busy day.”

But the popular swimming hole wasn’t always there. In 1908, an entrepreneur turned what was then a field, into a sand quarry — which it remained for several years. A reoccurring problem would continue to stall his efforts: water. Natural springs often flooded the quarry, and despite efforts to pump it out, erosion and sand contamination forced the sale of the property in 1918.

It’s next owner, Abraham Biberstein, let the quarry flood. Residents who sought to cool off named it “Biberstein Lake”. Two men, Lawrence Yager and Clayton Smith, saw potential to turn a profit, and rented the land for $150 per year. In 1922, they opened the Berne Swimming Club. A season ticket cost two dollars! As the years went on, so did the improvements. Biberstein’s land went up for auction, and in 1933, Yager and several other men bought it, renaming it Pine Lake.

“It’s been in the family for 100 years,” Shaun Scholer told us — Yager was his great-grandfather. His father Glenn took over in the early 1960s, and Scholer’s spent his lifetime enjoying, working, and now managing the property. “I have fond memories of laying on the beach before I could work in the stand and sell popcorn,” he added. “Once I became old enough to get my life guard certification, I became a life guard and worked through my high school and college years.” He even found love working the zip line, meeting the woman who would later become his wife.

In fact, if you speak to most locals, they have some sort of story to tell about Pine Lake. “I did swim here as a kid,” Lehman shared. “I’ve lived here basically my whole life. And I’m a teacher, so this is a great summer job for me to have between school years.” Occasionally, he’ll see his students and their families at the park. Or he’ll visit on his day off with his 7-year-old daughter.

“I first started coming here with my family as a little child — as their ages,” Haleigh Robbins said, gesturing to her three young children. “You just have fun with your family and friends — enjoy those moments that you get to be with them!” The Berne native wasn’t only a customer, she later became a life guard. Though she lives in Fort Wayne now, she travels about 50 minutes a couple times a year to bring her kids.

“My dad has been very strategic in his mission and plan for the lake,” Scholer explained. “The first goal for him was to have a place for us children to grow up and earn enough to get through college. He succeeded! Now, it’s a place for other local high school students and college kids to work their way through, and earn some income.”

“He said he’s retiring this year,” he continued. “Which I think is a part-time retirement, maybe. But he is stepping away from it, being 85-years-old, allowing myself and Andy to continue this cycle forward.”

Pine Lake Water Park is open all summer long, until Labor Day. Their hours are: Mon-Sat 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays Noon to 8 p.m. Tickets are $7 for kids between ages 7-9, and $9 for ages 10+. You can find more information on the park’s history, attractions and more on their website here.

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