OC, Pine Lake tradition dates way back

September 16, 2015

Taking the backway on old U.S. Highway 21 to Marshall will take you past a little bit of Olivet College history.


In the archives of Olivet College, numerous postcards can be found. Many depict Pine Lake. The oldest postcard of Pine Lake in the archives collection is stamped 1904. Embossed on the front are grainy images of Pine Lake, the resort house, the many cabins, people enjoying the water and picnics, while others show the great toboggan slide. Pine Lake became a very popular destination for Olivet College students in the early 1900s, while just down the road.


In the 1961 Olivetian yearbook there is a paragraph dedicated to the time spent on the lake by Olivet College students: “Pine Lake will always figure prominently in every Olivet student’s memoirs. The early breakfasts beside its placid surface, the twilight canoe rides, the picnic on the island, the glorious swims in it… are our memories of Pine Lake. Olivet would not be complete without it...”


Other Olivetian yearbooks stored in the archives hold photos of college events and traditions that happened on or near the lake. One old event occurred during Homecoming. Classes would compete against each other by racing floats of their own designs on Pine Lake. The 1961 yearbook photos display a float that looks like the Titanic sinking next to an iceberg.


Back before highways became a common way of traveling, people would come from all around to spend time at different resorts (including the Pine Lake Resort) during the summers.  Pine Lake was a popular place to go and was popular with people who lived in Mid-Michigan. Residents of Eaton, Ionia, Calhoun and Ingham counties flocked to the resort come summer time, according to the article that ran in a February 1998 edition of the Auction Exchange.


As Olivet started to grow, so did the resort. In 1907, Linus and Lucinda Cook and sons, Chauncey and Archie, purchased the resort, according to Mary Jean Baker, the author of the article. The Cooks added nine cabins, a bathhouse and a dance hall with hardwood floors to the resort. Doris Masters, the great-granddaughter of Lucinda Cook, recalls the “dance hall had an electric piano that could be played for a nickel a song. Later a Nickelodeon was put in for dancing pleasure.”


In 1945 the resort changed hands and was sold to the Holdridge family, who also ran a restaurant in Olivet. The Holdridges owned the resort for seven years before they sol