Indiana Beach?s history began when Earl Spackman and his family purchased a property along Lake Shafer in Monticello, Indiana, a lake created when a dam was built. They intended to build a vacation cottage in the area, however, when Lake Shafer was lowered to provide water to Lake Freeman, it opened an opportunity for the Spackman family to literally create a beach along the shores of the Lake Shafer, it was to be called Ideal Beach. This idea became one of the most loved family vacation spot in the state of Indiana, now popularly known as Indiana Beach.
When the Beach opened in 1926, it had a bathhouse for guests to change in and a small refreshment stand, manned by Earl Stackman?s 12-year old son, Tom Spackman. It was a success. A year after, a pair of Toboggan Slides was added to the beach, providing another reason for its visitors to enjoy their stay there. But Spackman wanted to attract more visitors to the beach, and a small improvised dance floor on the other side of the lake did it for him. The dance floor was a hit for the beach goers who also wanted to party, so he added another dance floor which became known as the Ideal Beach Ballroom, which hosted evening dances for guests and residents of the nearby area. By the 1930s, with the growing Big Band Era, the Ballroom had to accommodate the trend and expanded to almost double its size, making it one of the Beach?s major attractions. The Ballroom is still being used today and hosts many special events at the beach.
When his father passed away in 1946, Tom Spackman took over the Ideal Beach and he was unstoppable. He introduced the Beach?s permanent rides in 1947. These includes the Ferris Wheel, Merry-Go-Round, and Roll-O-Plane (otherwise known as The Bullet), which made a visit to the Beach more worth it. Then a Chris Craft speed boat or the Wahoo, Jr. ride made the experience more exciting.
Like his father, Tom Spackman wanted the Ideal Beach to be well-known not just in the surrounding area. To accomplish his vision, his first move was to change the name of the Beach so that people will know where it is exactly when they hear of its name and Indian Beach would make a good recall. Then he came up with publicities that would truly catch people?s attention, including high-wire acts, escape artists such as The Great Pasha, a man being shot out of a cannon, a promotion welcoming extra-terrestrials to the Beach, and an ex-G.I. living under water.
Still in line with Tom?s vision, the Indiana Beach?s image became more visible to the public with the arrival of a paddle wheeler named Shafer Queen in 1961, allowing guests to tour the area surrounding the Indiana Beach. The guided tour, however, was terminated in 1972 and the original Shafer Queen was retired and was converted to a lakeside restaurant which became known as The Pronto Princess. But many visitors still want to experience the tour onboard the Shafer Queen, so, a new Shafer Queen was built and began carrying passengers in 1973. Today, the Shafer Queen continues to operate as Indiana?s largest regularly scheduled paddle wheel boat.
Over the years, more rides and attractions were added, but the most groundbreaking move in the Indiana Beach and in the state of Indiana was the building of a wooden roller coaster in 1994. Named The Hoosier Hurricane, it is the first one to be built in Indiana after more than fifty years and, at the time, was the only wooden roller coaster in the state.
Today, there are three wooden coasters out of six roller coasters in the Indiana Beach, and while it can be a place of thrill and excitement, the Indiana Beach is still a vacation paradise and a relaxing getaway.