About Indian Lake
Indian lake is situated 500 feet above sea-level with Snake Hill to it’s west and Chestnut Hill to it’s east, both of which rise to 800 above sea-level. Originally, the area of Indian Lake was quite rural with active farms. Besides the Hinchman farm, there was the Thomas Green farm on Chestnut Hill, the Hussa Farm on Franklin Road near Rt. 46, and the Ed Beam Farm in the North Shore Road area of Indian Lake.
The idea of Indian Lake was originally conceived by Joseph B. Righter in hopes of creating a development similar to Mountain Lakes. He was a native of Denville and visualized that the waters of Den Brook could provide an excellent lake because of the surrounding terrain. He accumulated numerous parcels of land until he had accumulated approximately 300 acres. Around 1920, he proceeded to clear the property and trees were hauled by a yoke of oxen to a sawmill that was set up on site. A dam was required at the East Shore Road beach, where the road passes over, was the original dam. The Den Brook started to back-up flooding the cleared land. As the water rose, the dreams and years of planning were a success. Lenape Lake was born, named after the earliest inhabitants of the area, the Leni Lenape Indians of the Delaware tribe.
Roads were laid out and the land divided for a beautiful area of year-round homes. The first house was sold right next to the dam. J.B. Righter took ill and passed away in November of 1922. His dream for Lenape Lake was realized, but sadly, he never saw it developed. The first house built on Lenape Lake was built by his wife Susan A. Righter, and stands at the corner of Highland Trail and Indian Road.
After a short time the A.D. Crane Company bought the property from the estate. They completely changed the entire original plans, changed the road plans, divided it into smaller lots, and instead of developing high priced year round homes, it was
developed into a summer community. Subsequently they changed the name from Lenape Lake to Indian
Lake, but named the island Lenape Island.
There can be no doubt that what is now known as Lenape Island was once the site of an Indian encampment.
The Rev. C.R. Snyder, pastor of the Denville M.E. Church, 1890-1895, was a great student of archeology and
spent his time exploring the hills and fields of this area. He found on Lenape Island a great number of
implements used by the Indians, such as arrowheads, knives, fletchers, pestles, and pieces of pottery.
Indian lake continued as a summer community for many years. In 1924, there were about 500 summer
residents. The depression years saw a few families moving from the city to the cottages they owned. Their
children, when they married, also needed homes of their own, and this started the year-round conversion.
The post war housing shortage accelerated the development of the community as a year round area. Many
of the new residents came from Hudson, Bergen, and Essex counties. Originally, non-lakefront lots could be
bought for $300 - $400, while lakefront lots sold for about $1,000.
In 1923, the property owners of Indian Lake saw the need for an organization to control the use of the lake. A meeting was held in the Denville School, and the Indian Lake Community Club was formed in order to promote and protect the interests of the residents of the community. For the years 1923-1924, there were about 130 families in the community club, under the first president Dr. W. Moore Gould. The dues at that time were $10 per family, plus a charge for extra beach tags. During the 1930 depression years, many men and women were out of work, and the membership dues were paid by working for the club.
Indian Lake’s King & Queen tradition
Soon after the ILCC was established, the tradition of choosing by popular vote, a king and queen, from
the younger set, was begun. Except for a few years, a royal couple reigned each summer. During World
War II the titles were changed to Mr. Victory and Miss Liberty. In 1944, a bathing beauty contest was
held instead of a king and queen election since there were not many young men available.
In 1947, the members were eager to pick up where they left off and another royal couple was elected.
In recent years, the royal couple have been typically high school seniors and are selected by a vote,
of all the lake members, conducted on Fun Weekend.
Several weeks later, a royal celebration is held which lasts all weekend. It starts with the official
coronation, and party, on Friday night. Then on Saturday, there is a semi-formal themed royal ball.
And on Sunday afternoon, a fun car parade around the lake typically followed by a picnic.
It's a fun filled weekend, full of tradition, that all lake members are invited to enjoy!
To the right: King 2012 Trevor Tironi and Queen 2012 Emily Kohler
1925 - Big Beach, looking from North Shore Road by the dam, toward East Shore Road. Photo Courtesy of Frank Madarasz and family, formerly of Indian Lake.