ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Shakamak State Park

Updated on June 12, 2015
Shakamak State Park opened in 1928.
Shakamak State Park opened in 1928. | Source

Shakamak State Park is located in southwestern Indiana. It occupies parts of three counties: Sullivan, Greene and Clay. The park has four hiking trails, a swimming pool and a campground, but it is best known for its three lakes, which provide excellent fishing. The lakes have been closed to swimming since the swimming pool was built, but major swim meets were once held at the park.

The Park Beginnings

Much of southwestern Indiana contains coal, and the Shakamak State Park area is no exception. The Golden Knob coal mine was opened in 1903 and closed in 1908 after shipping out 155,000 tons of coal by rail. Rail lines require very gentle changes in grade (slope) of their tracks. Because of this, they often don't dip into valleys, but fill in an area and build the tracks on top of the fill. This is what was done for the Golden Knob railroad. To get the area around the base of their fill to drain, they installed a five foot drainage pipe.

In 1926, men from the nearby towns of Coalmont, Hymera and Jasonville got together and sent a letter to George Mannfeld, who was Superintendent of Fisheries & Game for the Indiana Conservation Department. They proposed that the state could create a large lake very economically, by merely stopping up the drain pipe. The railroad fill provided a ready made dam, thereby saving the cost of building one. The railroad fill was 800 feet wide at its base and 22 feet wide at the top. It was estimated that it would cost $150,000 to do that work in 1926.

After convincing state officials of the feasibility of a state park encompassing the lake, the counties of Clay, Greene and Sullivan eventually came up with money to purchase the land for the park. The name Shakamak comes from an Indian word which means "River of long fish". The long fish were eels, which were plentiful and considered a delicacy by the Native Americans. The park opened in 1928, but it wasn't until the fall of 1929 that work was complete and the lake began filling up. Governor Harry Leslie and Colonel Richard Lieber introduced the first two bass into the lake in the summer of 1930. The new 55 acre lake was opened for fishing on July 1, 1932.

Governor Harry Leslie & Colonel Richard Lieber released the first bass into Lake Shakamak
Governor Harry Leslie & Colonel Richard Lieber released the first bass into Lake Shakamak | Source

Swim Meets

There was once a pier at Lake Shakamak and many swimming and diving meets were held there. There were 16' and 32' dive towers. Many Midstates Amateur Athletic Union swim meets were held there. One of the participants at these meets was Esther Williams, who later starred in movies and became known as the "Million Dollar Mermaid." Eventually the meets moved to indoor facilities in cities. The pier was torn down, and a new swimming pool was built. Swimming is no longer allowed in Lake Shakamak.

The old pier at Lake Shakamak
The old pier at Lake Shakamak

The Park Today

Today there are three lakes in the park totaling 400 acres. Only electric trolling motors are allowed on the lakes. Paddleboats and rowboats are available for rent. There are four hiking trails, and the longest is nearly four miles long. The other three are about 1.5 miles long. The campground has over 100 electric campsites and over 40 non-electric sites. The park has a saddle barn and horseback trail rides are available.


Jasonville, Indiana is the closest town to the park and bills itself as the "Gateway to Shakamak." This city of around two thousand is only three miles away. Jasonville achieved national publicity when they elected a mayor, Bruce Borders, who was also an Elvis Presley impersonator. Borders appeared on David Letterman's show in 1988. David Letterman introduced him to the audience with:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, whenever I go to the polls to vote for a mayor, I always ask myself what is his economic policy.... How does he stand on the environment.... And can he sing 'Love Me Tender'. Please welcome Mayor and Elvis impersonator Bruce Borders."

Borders was a Republican in a heavily Democratic town. His opponent tried to use his activity as an Elvis impersonator against him, and his negative campaigning apparently backfired.

Bruce Borders as Elvis Presley
Bruce Borders as Elvis Presley | Source


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • DrHorsefly profile imageAUTHOR

      Ed Pope 

      4 years ago from Greenwood, Indiana

      I guess he did okay. He served 2 terms as mayor & later served 4 terms in the state legislature. He lost a close race in 2012 & is currently out of office.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      This was interesting from beginning. Just one did Bruce do as mayor??

      Thanks for sharing this with us.

      Angels are on the way to you this morning ps

    • Eiddwen profile image


      4 years ago from Wales

      I thoroughly enjoyed this visit and look forward to so many more.

      Voted up and shared.



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)