Muscatatuck Park became Indiana’s fourth state park when it was founded in 1921, but it won’t be part of the official Indiana State Park Centennial Celebration.
That’s because Muscatatuck became a county park instead of a state park in 1968, Muscatatuck Park Director Greg Martin said.
Indiana created the state park system in 1916 during the 100th anniversary celebration of the year Indiana achieved statehood, in 1816.
McCormick’s Creek and Turkey Run parks both opened in 1916. Clifty Falls became the third state park in 1920.
As part of the parks centennial celebration:
The Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks hosted 32 events throughout state parks on Jan. 1, including trail runs/walks horse rides.
Hoosiers can visit one of the 32 state parks on June 4 and 5 and pay what Hoosiers paid in 1916: 10 cents per person.
Each property is hosting a birthday party during the DNR’s “100 Days for 100 Years” summer season.
Jennings County residents should be proud that Muscatatuck Park belongs to the county, and offers a lot of activities, Martin said.
“Still, it would be nice to be included in some of the celebrations of the state parks’ centennial since we were there when it all started,” Martin said.
Jennings County donated 86 acres of the Muscatatuck Valley to the state park system and the park was first opened under the name of the Vinegar Mills Park.
The park was first named in honor of the pioneer stone cutting mill located on the property at the edge of the Muscatatuck River. Owned by William Reed, the mill operated from 1840 until 1875.
Martin said many stories have floated around about the park’s original name, including one that it related to the original owner’s personality.
“Whatever the reason for the name of the mill, it had a reputation of cutting a lot of limestone,” Martin added.
In 1922, just a year after it opened, Vinegar Mills Park was renamed The Muscatatuck State Park.
With an inn and picnic area, it became a popular rest sight for people traveling between Indianapolis and Madison.
Though the park received little financial assistance while a state park, several structures and recreation areas were developed within the park by the 1960s. After much controversy, the state deeded the park back to the Jennings County in 1968.
The park is currently operated by the Jennings County Parks and Recreation Department.
“We would receive a lot of funding from the state if we were still held as a state park, and that would make things easier. But, we couldn’t have rock climbing here because no state park can host rock climbing. Rock climbing is turning into a funding benefit for us,” Martin said.
“Thanks to grants from the Jennings County Foundation and the Lilly Endowment and many volunteers, we are doing OK. The rock climbing is bringing financial benefits. We even have rock climbers camping here all through January. Also we have fundraising events scheduled through the summer,” he added.