Since opening to the general public in 2014, Ceraland Park has been bustling with a growing number of visitors. From campers to athletes and fishermen to swimmers, there are plenty of reasons to utilize the 345-acre recreational area.

When the Cummins Employees Recreation Association (CERA) established the park in 1963, however, it was created as a recreational outlet for Cummins employees and associated companies.

With varied interests among local users, the park became home to a smorgasbord of activities.

“Everybody had a different idea of what recreation was about — be it softball, shooting at the trap range or camping,” said Jim Kreutzjans, the park’s director.

Story continues below gallery

Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

For more than 55 years, about 90 percent of Ceraland’s revenue came from vending machine proceeds collected inside Cummins’ southern Indiana manufacturing plants.

“The candy machines, the Coke machines — the commissions off that supported the development of Ceraland Park,” Kreutzjans said.

As funding from vending machines dropped, unable to cover operational costs, Cummins made the decision to switch from its traditional business model and instead create a new way to pay for the park, Kreutzjans said.

In 2013, Cummins executives turned the park over to CERA Sports Corp., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. That transition turned Ceraland into a community park.

“We’re off and running on our own feet without that additional money,” Kreutzjans said. “We have to be self-sustaining in everything we do.”

The public has embraced the opportunity.

Ceraland has more than doubled its attendance since 2014 — with an estimated 250,000 people expected to visit the park this year.

That is 175,000 more people than visited in 2013, when it was still a private park for Cummins employees and retirees.

Kreutzjans said he has several hopes for the park moving forward but is thankful for Ceraland’s current position.

Compared to comparable parks, locally or across the Midwest, “there’s not a park more used,” Kreutzjans said.

Ceraland timeline

1961: Founded by the Cummins Employees Recreation Association (CERA)

1963: Established as a recreational outlet for Cummins employees

1987: Welcomed associated companies and their employees to the park

2011: Vending machine proceeds decline significantly, and Cummins begins studying different business models

2014: Ceraland opens to the general public