France Park: Indiana's Hidden Gem
Located just four miles West of Logansport on US 24, this Cass County Park is on my list of Indiana’s Hidden Gems and offers many different activities for the whole family. There’s a guarded beach with concessions in the beautiful clear water lake that now fills the old Kenneth Stone Quarry. Scuba diving is permitted in the Kennith Quarry, facilitated by the Diving Den (A fee and proof of certification is required, also the buddy system is enforced). The park also offers ten miles of multi-use trails throughout the woods, prairie, and creek beds of the property. You can travel down the old Tow Path of the Wabash/Eerie Canal or take a climb to the top of the limestone cliffs that surround the old Kenneth Quarry. There’s also an 18 Hole Disc Golf course and miniature golf.
Over 200 wooded campsites,both primitive and electric, are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. 130 sites have electricity. The campground has two shower houses, one newly built with private showers rooms, a several playgrounds, The Old Kenneth Depot Store that sells ice, groceries, fishing and camping supplies, and ice cream.
Nearby you can find horseback riding, restaurants, wineries, and more. Logansport is the county seat with a Wal-Mart, many Walgreens, a hospital, an indoor mall, and local attractions. The park gatehouse has park maps that feature directions to Logansport, the hospital, and also features advertisements from local businesses. There are many parks in the town, as it sits on the junction of the Wabash and Eel Rivers. Logansport is home to McHale’s Performing Arts Center and host many festivals throughout the year including an art festival and a Jazz fest.
France Park has many unique features that give you the opportunity for sight-seeing and photography. The most popular is the waterfall. It’s the largest and closest waterfall in the northern half of the state and well worth the hour and a half drive. There’s a picnic area directly in front of the falls that gives you a chance to stay and enjoy the sounds and sights. Above the falls, there is a short trail that travels up the creek bed, which is mostly made of sand and limestone in this area. There are small waterfalls along this trail and it’s a favorite place for wading and splashing when the beach is closed.
The beach is another popular spot. Beginning in the late 1800’s, France Park was a stone quarry where large amounts of limestone were mined and used all across the country. Eventually spring water began to fill the empty quarry and it’s become a natural clear lake, home to many species of freshwater aquatic life including the prehistoric Spoonbill Sturgeon, which can reach up to six feet in length and weigh over two hundred pounds. The old Kenneth Quarry is a favorite for beach goers and scuba divers. Clear warm water and the limestone cliffs as your backdrop makes it a special spot indeed. During the summer months the beach is opened for guarded swimming only. The Diving Den facilitates the air station and diving must done only when a dive master is on duty. A concession stand sells ice cream, snacks, food, and sodas.
Along with the beach quarry there are two other empty quarries. The second quarry is home to Elzbeck Lake (formerly Trimmer Lake). The lake is lined with limestone outcroppings and large pieces of rock. A canoe or boat will give you access to many scenic spots. Fishing and boating are permitted and a boat ramp and parking are available. There is also a dry quarry bed behind the Old Kenneth Depot store, where a newly built deck looks out into the quarry. There’s a trail that takes you into the quarry and along the limestone cliffs where a small cave can be explored by the adventurous. There is also a trail that takes you to where Paw Paw creek empties into the Wabash River.