Pater Lake-- planned for fishing, swimming and boating -- was to contain Indian Creek near Reily, about eight to nine miles west of Hamilton. It was to be a 300-acre park with a lake of about 185 acres developed around Reily Township land donated by Dr. and Mrs. Walter Pater. Instead of a new state park -- the dream of local Izaak Walton organizations -- it became a costly nightmare, thanks to engineering errors. Pater Lake started in the 1930s as a Depression project, said David T. Jones in The Story of the Oxford Vicinity.
Jones said in 1947 the state "bought 262 acres for the project along Indian Creek, cleared the land and constructed a dam and spillway. In the spring of 1950, just as the first water was let into the lake, a cloudburst prematurely filled the lake and flooded the road, revealing engineering flaws of such magnitude that the dam had to broken as an emergency measure." That drastic action Feb. 25, 1950, was thought to be a stop-gap remedy until state engineers could study the fiasco and produce a new plan. But the state decided the corrections would be too costly and quietly abandoned the project in 1952. In March 1960 the Butler County Park District and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources reached an agreement allowing the park district to use the land. A 20-acre preserve was established in Section 23 of Reily Township between Bunker Hill and Reily. Pater Park Wildlife Area, extended to 34 acres, is maintained by MetroParks of Butler County as a natural area with hunting permitted in season.