France Park

Quarries have always fascinated me.   There’s something magnificent about a massive manmade hole in the ground, especially once it’s been reclaimed by nature. As a young child, my parents often took me camping at France Park and I quickly became enamored with its unusual beauty.  From the 1840 to 1943, the property had been mined for limestone, leaving behind three impressively large quarries and many relics of concrete and iron.  In 1943, when quarry workers struck a spring that connects to the underground Teays River, the Old Kenith Stone Quarry filled with crystal clear spring water overnight.  Along with decreasing labor supplies due to WWII and the fact that the quarries were filling with water, operations ceased, and the remaining equipment was relocated. 

As nature began to reclaim the area, so did man.  The majestic reflection of the100-foot limestone cliffs mirrored on the turquoise blue spring water’s surface drew many swimmers and adventure seekers long before the land was open to the public.  Cass County officials took notice of the need for an outdoor recreation park and began leasing the land for public use.  In 1969, the county purchased the land and France Park was officially dedicated.    

Along with the three quarries, the park boasts an impressive collection of historical and geological features.  Paw Paw Creek cuts through the park from the north, where it flows over an ancient limestone bed filled with glacially deposited boulders and numerous tiny falls just before it cascades over a twenty foot wall of rock, then spilling into Elzbeck Lake.  On the southern end of the lake, the Paw Paw regains its course and continues until it discharges into the Wabash River. 

The remains of the Eerie-Wabash Canal run through the park from east to west. When the canal was operational, teams of mules and oxen pulled heavy barges filled with limestone up and down the towpath as far away as Fort Wayne and Lafayette.    From 1840-1874, the Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Ohio River and provided an invaluable shipping and passenger route all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.  Over 460 miles long, it was the longest canal ever constructed in North America.  Excessive costs of maintenance and the emerging railway system led to the eventual closure of canal system. 

A large brick communal oven located just south of the entrance gate was once used by the Italian immigrants who worked in the quarry during the 1800s as a weekly community resource. The oven has since been restored to its original working condition and available for use still today.  

In 1991, a prairie filled with native perennial grasses was established and in 1998, a 20-foot observational tower was built on the southwest corner of the prairie.  In 1999, a constructed wetland was developed for the treatment of wastewater. 

The park’s main attraction will always be the enchanting Old Kenith Quarry, complete with sandy swimming beach, concession stand, and dive station.  Its clear blue water attracts divers from far and wide to explore the sunken treasures and search for the elusive spoonbill sturgeon, a giant prehistoric fish that can grow up to seven feet long and weigh over 200 pounds.   On a bright sunny day, the giant fish can be seen from the cliff tops.

Paw Paw Creek

The park also has over seven miles of multi-use trails for hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing, a 24-hole disc golf course, miniature golf, multiple playgrounds, trails for golf carts, planned events and activities.  The park has several handicap accessible campsites, restroom facilities as well as accessible trails and overlooks.  The falls are also accessible from a vehicle. 

There are 120 modern campsites with water and 20, 30, and 50-amp service as well as over 100 primitive sites.  Many of the primitive sites are spacious, secluded and well shaded.  Several are within earshot of the melodic falls and several more are spread out along the eastern shore of Elzbeck Lake.  There’s a fully stocked camp store and modern bathhouse located in the main campground.   

The town of Lognsport is just a few miles east of the park and there you can find a Wal-Mart Supercenter, pharmacies, and emergency services. Dollar General and J&D Liquors are located right on the edge of town for convenient camping and picnicking needs.  J&D liquors carries a wide variety of Indiana wines.  

Crooked Creek Stables located about seven miles to the southwest of the park on County Road 250 N, offers guided horseback rides along Crooked Creek. 

Contact Information

France Park

 4505 W IN-24, Logansport, IN 46947

 (574) 753-2928

Crooked Creek Stables

7187 W 250 N, Royal Center, IN 46978

(574) 643-9395

The Swimming Beach at The Old Kenith Stone Quarry
Elzbeck Lake, one of the former limestone quarries.
Concrete evidence of the quarry days are found throughout the property.
Natural limestone formations found along the southern ridge of the Old Kenith Quarry, along the Quarry Trail.
On a clear sunny day, the prehistoric paddle fish can be seen from atop the 100-foot limestone cliffs.
A small cave located in the dry quarry, directly behind the camp store.
More remnants of the quarry days. This hunk of concrete is located in the primitive camping area, near the Elzbeck Lake boat launch.
Paw Paw creek just north of the waterfall.

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