From a single log cabin start in 1858, the area around a small lake to the southeast of DeLand remained relatively undeveloped until Henry DeLand turned his hand to it in 1883.
He named it after his daughter Helen, established a sawmill, built a hotel and the low key boom was off and running.
More recently "downtown" development surrounds an equestrian and recreational area. Dominating one side is a modern industrial complex, once the home of a leading exercise machine manufacturer.
A small quiet community creates the background of rural serenity.
Hidden away in Lake Helen's southeastern corner is the unique settlement of Cassadaga.
Founded as a "spiritualist" camp in the late 1800's, it is in large part a cluster of tiny cottages placed on land controlled by the organization.
There are almost as many "mediums" offering "readings" as cottages.
A huge (judged by Cassadaga's scale) 19th century hotel dominates the little community along with a couple of shops that specialize in new age tracts, tapes, and crystals.
Deeply religious, there is no doubt as to the sincerity of Cassadagans.
The City Observer in Lake Helen