Pibel Lake grew out of an 1897-1898 irrigation claim for water rights by Edwin Pibel, called Clear Creek Ditch. Three years earlier, a diversion dam had been placed across the creek to form a lake, but the irrigation ditch was eventually abandoned after the dam washed out. The lake was named after Edwin’s father, William H., who was the first postmaster and a county commissioner.
The lake became a popular recreation spot when Mr. and Mrs. John Hatfield built the first resort hotel on the southeast edge of the lake near the spillway. After a fire destroyed that hotel, a second hotel, called Pibel Lodge, was built on the west side of the lake. The Pibel Bible Camp was founded in 1939 to provide community facilities for fellowship and recreation. The State of Nebraska purchased the lake in June, 1930, and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission operated it until 2012. Ownership was then transferred to the Lower Loup Natural Resources District.