By Mary Giorgio
In the decades between 1890 and 1940, Cedar Lake, Indiana, was a popular resort town frequented by Chicagoans looking for a weekend getaway. The town had everything folks from the Windy City wanted – a nice beach, clear waters, leisure activities, and nighttime entertainment. Plus, it was just a short train ride away. There were even rumors during the Prohibition years that the town was a good place to get a stiff drink.
The town of Cedar Lake was founded in the mid-1800s. It wasn’t until the Monon Railroad was extended to Cedar Lake in 1882 that tourists began to visit the area. Many locals, including Christian Lassen, saw an opportunity to capitalize on this demand. At one time, 47 hotels operated in Cedar Lake.
Lassen was born in Chicago to immigrant parents in 1875. The family later moved to Cedar Lake, where he found work in the steamboat livery business. Around 1903, Lassen opened a dance pavilion that attracted quite a crowd. In 1919, he made the bold decision to expand his offerings.