Visiting Mountain Lake? Find out all you need to know by checking out the links on the left. However, the first question visitors usually ask is, “Where is the Mountain…and What about the Lake?” So we’ll answer that one right up front!
Short answer: The “mountain” is two miles southeast of Mountain Lake and the “lake” was built by the Works Progress Administration during the New Deal days.
Longer answer: The first white settler to the area, William Mason, found a shallow 900-acre lake with three islands. The two smaller islands just broke the water’s surface. The third much larger, higher island looked to Mason like a mountain rising from the lake. He named the lake Mountain Lake and the island Mountain Island.
When the Sioux City and St. Paul Railroad came in 1871 Mason insisted that the village being platted be named Mountain Lake. The railroad had selected Midway as the name of the village since it was midway between St. Paul and Sioux City. Mason eventually won.
In the 1890s there was an attempt to turn the mountain into a lakeshore resort. The demand for more tillable land and construction advances led to the demise of the lake in 1905-06. The lake was drained and farmed.
Today the mountain is part of the Cottonwood County Park System. Mountain Park is southeast of Mountain Lake. Exit Hwy 60 at County Rd. #1, travel south for a 1/10 of a mile, turn east on 380th St for two miles then south for 3/4th mile.
For nearly three decades there was no Mountain Lake at Mountain Lake. In 1937 a nine foot earthen dam and outlet was constructed to create a man-made Mountain Lake complete with an island.
You are welcome to come and visit both Mountain Park and the lake today!