Park and recreation areas were added to the grounds between the 1870s and 1890s. By 1876, there were four artificial ponds or lakes on the grounds, each one surrounded on its banks by willow trees. Lake Hincks was southeast of Old Main; Spring Lake was in the northwest corner of the grounds, near the new cemetery; a fourth unnamed lake was just northeast of Old Main, near a farmhouse and barns.
As early as 1876, Lake Wheeler contained an island lighthouse, man-high windmill, and rowboats that could be rented for paddling excursions. Eventually, it had two stone pedestrian bridges and a fountain.
In 1966, when the current hospital was under construction, the four-foot deep lake was relocated approximately 100 feet north of its former position. Lake Wheeler is the last remaining lake on the grounds.