By Meghann MacMillan
PEEBLES — Way out east into Adams County, where tall buildings give way to cow pasture, sits a relatively untouched little lake by the name of Mineral Springs.
Named in honor of the naturally occurring, mineral-enriched springs of the area, Mineral Springs Lake is five-and-a-half-miles of tree-lined serenity. Surrounding the lake and a little beyond are 400 camp sites managed by owner Billy Smalley.
The idea for the lake resort and campground came to Smalley when he was only 12 years old. He was in the area of Mineral Springs with his father and, unable to contain his love of the wilderness around him, announced that one day he would own it and turn it into a campground.
It was a great many years later in April of 1973 that he took out the biggest small business loan in southern Ohio and made his dream a reality.
Today, Mineral Springs Lake and Farm Resort is a home away from home for many looking to escape a rushed world of deadlines and traffic jams. Indeed, time does seem to slow down as you drive up the tree-lined, gravel road. A 10-mph sign is posted, but the casual driver hardly needs reminded. Residents pass on golf carts or four wheelers with a smile and a wave.
Michael Smalley was born just a few months after his grandfather, Billy Smalley, bought the property and has raised his own family along the shoreline of the calm lake.
“It’s definitely a community,” Michael Smalley said of the residents, “Everyone knows everyone and there is hardly ever any trouble.”
The quiet, peaceful atmosphere of the Mineral Springs Lake and Farm Resort may be one of Adams County’s best kept secrets. Residents are a mix of old and young, city and country people with a majority as second- or third-generation campers. The lots tend to stay in the family and spaces available for rent don’t tend to stay that way long, especially those on the lake.
Linda Richard has kept a camper at the lake for approximately 14 years. She’s brought her children there for long weekends, holidays and the occasional summer party.
“It’s just beautiful out here,” Richard said.
Her camper and site has the look of a quaint neighborhood house, with personal touches such as flowers and decorations.
In fact, part of what creates the community feel while walking the gravel roads around the grounds is the personal attention each camper brings to his or her site. There are wind chimes, potted plants, flowers in the yard, bird baths and welcoming patios where it wouldn’t be hard to imagine yourself enjoying a cold glass of lemonade.
In addition to a recreational beach, playground and basketball court, the resort holds bingo nights and poker games during popular summer weekends. Live music, carnivals and costume balls have also happened on the lake. The shelter house can be rented out for parties and it isn’t uncommon to see a group of neighbors hanging out around a grill or fire pit.
For those who want to give the lake a try, but aren’t yet ready to commit to renting a lot, there are several cabins available to rent for a quiet weekend getaway.
Whether you’re looking for a summer spot or a weekend away, the calm waters and tall shady trees of Mineral Springs Lake and Farm Resort just might be the cure to soothing your frazzled nerves.
Meghann has lived in the country all her life and loves it more every day. She raises chickens, rabbits and two adorable children with her husband in Brown County.