Charlestown State Park 2018

IMG_1660On our way to Tennessee in October of 2018, we spent a night at Charlestown State Park in Charlestown, Indiana.  The park sits along the Ohio River on 5,100 acres and opened in 1996.  The campground opened in 1999 and was expanded in 2002.

From 1940-1995, the land was part of the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant which consisted of three separate plants that manufactured smokeless powder and bomb propellants during WWII.  In May 1941, the three plants employed 27,520 people, which helped the area recover from the Great Depression.  The final plant ceased operation in 1972 and the land was given to Clark County.

Fourteen Mile Creek flows through rugged, winding valleys, along rock outcrops and abutments before emptying into the Ohio River.  Trail One travels through dense forest before climbing to the top of the valley wall, offering a scenic view of the creek.

The park’s main attraction is the abandoned Rose Island amusement park that once sat IMG_1625on the peninsula created where Fourteen Mile Creek empties into the Ohio.  In 1923 David Rose purchased the property and built an amusement park complete with a hotel, swimming pool, shooting gallery, cafeteria, small zoo with wolves and monkeys, pony rides, merry-go-round, wooden coaster, and Ferris wheel.   During the flood of 1937, ten feet of water covered the park and the damage was too much to repair.  Very little remains of the buildings aside from the swimming pool and some various pieces of concrete.  Information placards and posts depicting the water level during the flood are scattered all along the trail, making for a very enriching self-guided tour.

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The Rose Island sign as it appears today, just after crossing the Portersville Bridge.

The Rose Island Loop is .9 miles and takes you way down a very steep, paved trail then across the Portersville Bridge to the Rose Island peninsula.  The bridge was built in 1912 and originally spanned the White River at Portersville, connecting Dubois and Daviess Counties.  In 1999, the bridge was closed to traffic.  In 2008, it was dismantled and moved to Charlestown State Park.

The campground is only eighteen years so there is a serious lack of shade.  Much of the sites are full sun.  There are 60 full hookup site and 132 electric sites.  The campground has three clean and very modern bathhouses.  We stayed in Site 71, an end site but since it was a Monday night in mid-October the place was pretty much deserted.

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The three pillars that once held the Rose Island sign looking out across the Ohio River where they would greeted guests arriving by steam ship.
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The Walk of Roses
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One of the info placards and posts depicting the water level during the 1937 flood.

 

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