Pine Lake, located three and one half miles west of Berne, has been known as an old swimmin' hole for nearly sixty years. Over the period of those sixty years, many changes have taken place. Ownership and management of the property has changed several times, and countless improvements have been implemented.
The story of Pine Lake begins with a farmer by the name of Levi Augsburger. He had no intentions of making a lake when he began to dig for sand in 1908. After several years of digging he had turned a flat field into a stone quarry. But soon all the fine quality sand had been hauled away, leaving only sand contaminated with dirt and clay. Digging for sand was halted the sand pit began to fill up with water. Water came from the natural springs located on the floor of the sand quarry. In earlier, years, the water was pumped out into a creek adjacent to the lake. The land between the lake and the creek eventually eroded and the creek water mixed with lake water. That is why carp are present in the lake to this day. The land between the lake and creek was later filled in when swimmers started coming. Levi Augsburger, who could no longer dig for good sand, decided to put the quarry up for sale.
In 1918 Abraham Biberstein purchased the property. After sitting idle for several years, with the water level gradually rising higher and higher, Biberstein agreed to rent the land to two Berne businessmen by the names of Lawrence Yager and Clayton Smith around the year of 1924. The land was rented for $150 to $200 per year. These two men did much to make the old sand pit into a genuine swimmin' hole. They built up the land which separated the lake from the nearby creek. Families interested in using the lake to go swimming could buy season tickets. Each family would have a small shack or cabana which they would use beside the lake. Biberstein Lake, as it was then called, soon became a popular swimmin' hole. Evidently, Biberstein felt that Lawrence Yager and Clayton Smith were making too much money so he increased the rental price so much($300/year) that Yager and Smith refused to run the operation. People still wanted to go swimming so Biberstein put barbed wire around the lake and closed the lake down. But this did not prevent the dedicated swimmers from coming. Biberstein then used more drastic measures. He poured oil on the water, he threw roles of fence into the water, and he cut off the tops of some of his pine trees and tossed them in too. These tactics kept out most of the daytime and the moonlight swimmers. With no air conditioners to cool them off at night, people chose the closest swimmin, hole. Biberstein made sure people realized that Pine Lake was no longer the closest swimmin' hole.
Eventually a rental price was agreed upon by Biberstein, Yager, and Smith, and people were swimming once more. More improvements were made. One of these was a toboggan slide made out of crating lumber. Later, Yager and Smith stopped renting the lake and another man by the name of Hank Ehrsam rented it between the years of 1929 and 1932. It was during these years the Berne Swimming Club was organized and swimming lessons were taught. A concession stand which sold pop and hot dogs was put into operation. With no electricity, ice had to be carried every day to keep the pop cold. Lawrence Yager's son, Jerome, would run the concession stand.
Then in 1933, the lake was put up for sale at a public auction. Dr. Daley D. Jones, Lawrence Yager, and Everett Schug bought the property for $2,400. From this time on, the lake has been called Pine Lake rather than Biberstein Lake. The three owners hired people to manage the lake. Doris Braybender was one of these managers. Her main interest was Archery, so she set up an archery range. It's a wonder that archery is still not practiced out at Pine Lake. It is not known as to what happened to this idea.
In the late 1930s, the Yager’s obtained complete ownership of Pine Lake. Yager had wanted to build A forty-foot tower, but Schug and Jones argued that it would be too dangerous. This disagreement was partly responsible for the breakup of the trio. Luther Yager purchased Schug's share of the property and Jerome Yager bought Daley D. Jones' share. Each share Sold for $1000.
Throughout the '40s, the 50s, and the early 60s, various people managed the lake. Ed Spehiger managed from 1942 to 1946, Jim Hedges, a school teacher, managed from 1947 to 1950, Doit McCrory managed from 1951 to 1954, Ed Smith managed from 1955 to 1957, and Paul Bixler managed from 1958 to 1960.
The pier, raft and metal water slide was built by Lawrence Yager.
Then in 1961, Jerome Yager's daughter, Judy expressed interest in operating the lake, so from 1961 to 1964, she and her husband, Glenn Scholer, managed Pine Lake. On Palm Sunday in 1965, a tornado devastated the swimming area. The concession stand was destroyed along with the forty foot diving tower, which was later rebuilt to only thirty feet. It was after the tornado that Luther Yager agreed to sell his portion of the lake to Glenn and Judy Scholer for $10,000. Although the tornado had made quite a wreck out of the popular swimmin, hole, this couple worked diligently to rebuild Pine Lake into what it is today. Soon after the tornado a new concession stand and tower were built. Later the banks were sloped and new pine trees were planted to replace the old ones. Rocking bobbers were welded together by Dave Lybarger, a local welder and added to the swimming area.
During the summers of 1971-72 Greg Drake, (a college sophomore who was looking for work) helped Glenn Scholer build the 100 ft. racer slide. Neither of the two had made anything with fiberglass previous to this, but through trial and error and a lot of faith they constructed it. For two months’ workers sanded the molds in the Scholer garage. By the end of the second summer the slide was complete.
In 1967 Glenn now managing the lake heard there were fiberglass bobbers in lake James, however this was broken. He then pursued a man from Maumee Ohio that had steel buoys at a cost of $500 that were designed to be used in the great lakes. A local welder by the name of Dave Lybarger from Bluffton Indiana welded the platforms onto the buoys that are now referred to as the crows nest and the two man bobber.
The second bank was graded back by Glenn and Judy in 1967 and paid 10,000. The east bank was done soon after when they had the money.
In addition to the slide two kiddie slides were also formed and added along with the swing set collection. Horseback riding trails were available between the early and late 70's until liability increased too high to continue. Paddle boats were added in the summer of 1982. By the following year volleyball became a popular attraction on the beach. For the summer of 1984 the 210 ft. slide-a-ride tube slide was shipped from Technetic Inc, North Carolina. Habegger builders erected the slide that spring.
During the spring of 1987 Pine Lake was drained nearly 6 feet for the construction of the new sea wall. Hours were spent tearing down the old wall, trenching and pouring cement. Mr. Scholer and his four sons placed the new stone of the sea wall into their proper position. The walkway was topped with a final layer of cement and the lily pad walk was constructed. Habegger Builders erected the new 30 ft. diving platform.
The history from the 1990’s to today will be coming soon...