This is Lake Osceola. Osceola is an Indian name, but Seminole, not Cherokee. I read somewhere that a lot of our roads and lakes have Seminole Indian names because the earliest developers were from south Florida and re-used the names they had used there. If I find where I read that, I will try to remember to come back and put in the quote.
The Osceola Lake Co. built an earthen dam here in 1908. They graded and prepared the land to create a lake covering 12 acres, 20 feet at the deepest. They built a road to Main Street, Hendersonville.
John L. Orr built an extravagant Victorian inn, the Lake View Hotel at Osceola Lake. It is on a high point overlooking the lake and stands four stories high. It opened with 30 rooms by 1909. The next year 30 additional rooms were added, then 30 more.
Here is a recent photograph of the Copper Crest Inn, the reincarnation of the Osceola Lake Inn, built around 1908. The Rubin family purchased the hotel and property c. 1940. It was a popular vacation spot for Floridians, offering entertainment, three meals a day, and sporting activities. The inn is once again thriving as the Copper Crest Inn.
Images of America
Galen Reuther and Lu Ann Welter
The building was wrapped by porches and the hotel had “every modern convenience.” There were six suites built into the very top rooms.
The top rooms in the turret have six suites.
They stocked the lake with fish and brought in boats, “three 18-foot motor boats, seating 12 passengers each, one sailboat and many row boats.”
The 1916 Flood
The hotel was a success. And then came the flood of 1916.
Frank L. FitzSimons writes about this in Chapter 90 of From The Banks of The Oklawaha, The 1916 Flood.
… Otis Powers was Chief of Police of Hendersonville in 1916… Otis Powers, keeping a close eye on the rising waters and anticipating that Kanuga Lake and Osceola Lake might break their dams, rode horseback all night in the pouring rain to warn people in the low lying areas to get to higher ground and to drive their livestock with them…
At 2:00 a.m., in the black darkness of that early Sunday morning, long before the break of day, the Kanuga Lake dam washed away, and with a mighty roar the waters of Henderson County’s largest lake poured forth. A few minutes after 10:00 am., eight hours after Kanuga Lake dam washed away, Osceola Lake dam collapsed and about the same time the Jordan Mill dam gave up the ghost and released additional tons and tons of water…
And the rain that Sunday continued to fall in blinding sheets. The deluge was overwhelming. Henderson County was a sea of water and Hendersonville was isolated, completely isolated from the outside world. Every road leading into Hendersonville was either complexly washed away or was so deep under water that it could be navigated only by boat.
I’ve written about it the flood before. It completely changed this area.
A new concrete dam was built in 1926 and Osceola Lake was back and even bigger.
The old dam was just earthen works. This dam was concrete and engineered to be very sound. The first lake covered 12 acres, 20 feet at the deepest. Now Lake Osceola covers 32 acres and is up to 30 feet deep.
The land surrounding the lake was broken up into lots and sold.
Camp Osceola for Boys operated around the lake.
Camp Osceola, which opened in 1923, succeeded the former Laurel Park Camp, which was established on Lake Rhododendron in 1912. The tents are pitched in three long rows, the lowest of which is restricted to boys under fourteen years. Tutoring in high school and grammar school work takes up at least three hours daily. The rest of the day is given up to athletics and aquatic sports. A glee club, target practice, radio, photography and trips are other recreational features. Professor Brown, a graduate of the College of Charleston, has been for over thirty hears head of the Classical department of Porter Military Academy, Charleston, S. C. The majority of the boys come from the South.
A Handbook of Summer Camps: An Annual Survey, 1924
Camp Osceola on Lake Osceola: Individual Attention for the Individual Boy
An Open Letter to American Jewish Boys
Let me take you on a personally conducted tour through a boys’ paradise.
We’re in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, 2300 feet above sea level, only three miles from Hendersonville, N.C., which is on the main line of the Southern Railroad and an easy over-night trip from Atlanta.
It’s the good old summer time. The days are fine and clear, just right for baseball and swimming and all your favorite sports…
Rubin’s Osceola Lake Inn
The hotel, renamed the Osceola Lake Inn survived and thrived.
In 1940 the Rubin family ran the hotel.
Rubin’s Osceola Lake Inn
In the Cool & Scenic Blue Ridge Mountains
Hendersonville, North Carolina 28739
Finest Jewish-American Cuisine
Supervised Children’s Program
Tennis – Golf – Horseback Riding
Boating – Fishing – Pool – Entertainment
Informal – Owner, Manager, Host Stuart Rubin
Phones: (305) 534-8356 (704) 692-2544
Resort Hotel on beautiful Lake Osceola
They put in a swimming pool and added a pavilion on the lake.
They bought property near the inn and added more rooms.
They had entertainment every night. The Rubin family ran the inn for over 60 years.
The Rubin family sold the hotel to Ed Hernando in 2004. He restored it and renamed it the Copper Crest Inn. In 2016, the inn became the Heartwood Refuge & Retreat Center.
At some point the inn was for sale. You can see a lot of photos of inside on Trulia. They are underwhelming.
Todd Leoni bought Lake Osceola in 1990. I did not even know you could buy a lake. In 2006 he bought the Mountain Lake Inn. (We didn’t know that when we spoke to him briefly while we were out there taking these photos.) The Mountain Lake Inn used to be part of the boys camp.
In the early 2000s, regulators issued a dam safety order. “Among the deficiencies were cracks in the 93-year-old structure and trees in the spillway that could be dangerous if the dam was breached.”
Although there is still some dispute, repairs were done. A new spillway was built in front of the historic dam and the lake was refilled in 2018.
When we were there, the road wasn’t going over the dam.