Though often thought of as a sportsman’s Mecca, Marion County Lake has experienced rapid growth as a residential community in recent years.
Bonnie Rindt and her husband built their house at the lake in 2000.
The beauty of the lake area and the peaceful setting drew the Lincolnville couple to live there.
“They keep it so nice out here, and it’s so pretty,” she said. “I love the water and the beauty and the birds, and to watch the boats.”
Their house has a view of the lake.
“We can see it from about every room of the house,” she said.
In the past 16 years, she’s noticed a lot of other houses at the lake being beautified and rebuilt.
The Rindts bought their land a few years before they built their house.
“I love it out here,” she said. “We’ve got very good neighbors. Just in the circle where we live we’ve got some really nice neighbors.”
Although at one time weekenders dominated, she said it now seems as if there are more residents.
Roger Holter, who also lives at the lake year-round, agrees.
The Holters’ house started out as a weekend retreat and became a permanent home in 2013 after he retired from a career in retail.
They bought their two-bedroom bungalow 14 years ago when they lived in Wichita and kept it while living in a variety of cities in and out of state.
“We decided this is where we want to live,” Holter said.
Besides a view of the lake, the couple enjoys the wildlife and the lake’s natural setting.
“It’s a very comfortable environment,” Holter said. “I like going out in the morning and walking my dogs.”
Holter has noticed an increase in the number of year-round residents, but not all of his neighbors are permanent residents.
“In our particular block, there are five who are full-time and 10 who are weekenders,” Holter said. “Just in the 14 years we’ve been here, it’s amazing how many of those small homes have been expanded and built onto.”
Holter called development at the lake “an amazing transformation.”
Roger Hannaford of Hannaford Title, who also owns property at the lake, agrees.
“Maybe the last 20 years, things really started hopping out there and it continues with no slowdown at all,” he said.
Hannaford’s property is a weekend retreat. His grandparents, Roger and Norma Hannaford, bought a lot at the lake in 1949.
“The story goes, they had a bunch of friends who all bought lots in a row,” Hannaford said.
All built cabins for use on weekends and fishing trips. He remembers spending time at his grandparents’ cabin when he was a child.
His grandparents’ cabin, and those of their friends, were straight west from the Kingfisher Inn, a destination eatery that has been converted into a log cabin home.
Cabins built by the lake in the ‘40s and ‘50s were probably all fishing cabins, Hannaford said.
“Probably in the 1960s people started seeing the county lake as a permanent residence for people,” he said.
Many of the early have been replaced or refurbished, he said.
Hannaford sees potential for further development at the lake.
Development of housing has been a boon for Marion County and Hannaford Title, he said. More than 254 houses now stand at the lake.
The lake is busy with boaters, bicyclists, walkers, disc golf players, and picnickers on weekends.
“It’s probably reached its potential for boating on the weekend,” Hannaford said.
The 153-acre lake was developed as a Civilian Conservation Corps project during the New Deal. CCC employed men 17 to28 whose families were in great need of income. Work began in 1936. The grand opening was held in 1940.
Marion County Lake offers a heated fishing dock, children’s playground, camping areas, RV hookups, restrooms and shower facility, boat ramps, swimming beach, shelter houses, and a lake hall.
The lake is the scene of many annual events, including the John Waner Crappie Fishing Derby in March, Bluegrass at the Lake on June 18, and a chili cook-off and car show Oct. 1.