Paw Paw Lake

It might be a cliche, but Paw Paw Lake was certainly "the right place, at the right time". Its eleven miles of shoreline, nearness to Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, and accessibility to railroads made it the perfect place to become a resort destination.

By the early 1890's, newspapers had started promoting the virtues of Paw Paw Lake. As stated in an 1894 article from a Chicago newspaper: "The adaptability of Paw Paw Lake to  summer resort purposes is so manifest that it seems strange that some enterprising hotel man has not seen fit to strike his tent on the shores of the lake, which is destined to become a popular summer resort."The call was heard and Paw Paw Lake soon became THE resort destination.

Boats large and small soon began providing transportation around the lake. One boat, the Margaret, was said to have held up to 250 people. Train records show forty thousand people coming to the lake each summer. The Elinee was one of the major attractions for summer visitors. This complex of buildings was the Disneyland of its era.

The last big dance pavilion, Crystal Palace Ballroom, built in 1925, was able to handle more than 2500 dancers. Its popularity continued through the 1950's due to the performances held there by the big dance bands, such as Bob Crosby, Jimmy Dorsey and the Benny Goodman orchestra.

In the 1950's, changing lifestyles saw the demise of the old hotels and pavilions but enjoyable summertime activities were still available in the Paw Paw Lake area.In 1996 Paw Paw Lake became a newspaper headline once again. The magazine, Smart Money, a Wall Street Journal publication, rated the Paw Paw Lake area as one of the best places in the United States to buy a vacation home.

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