Charlestown State Park is an Indiana state park on 5,100 acres (20.64 km2) in Clark County, Indiana, in the United States. The park is on the banks of the Ohio River, 1 mile (2 km) east of Charlestown. It was once part of the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant (INAAP), and was donated in separate parcels to the Indiana state government. In 1993, the state of Indiana was given 859 acres (3.48 km2), and in 1994 was given an additional 1,125 acres (4.55 km2) . When the park opened in 1996, it encompassed 2,400 acres (9.7 km2). With an additional 2,600 acres (10.5 km2) given by the INAAP in 2004, the park has 5,100 acres (20.6 km2), making it the third largest state park in Indiana.[1] The park attracts 131,000 people a year.[2]

Charlestown State Park
Map showing the location of Charlestown State Park
Map showing the location of Charlestown State Park
Map of the U.S. state of Indiana showing the location of Charlestown State Park
LocationClark County, Indiana, USA
Nearest cityCharlestown, Indiana
Coordinates38°25′48″N 85°37′48″W / 38.43000°N 85.63000°W / 38.43000; -85.63000Coordinates: 38°25′48″N 85°37′48″W / 38.43000°N 85.63000°W / 38.43000; -85.63000
Area5,100 acres (21 km2)
EstablishedOctober 12, 1996
Visitors131,761 (in 2008-2009)
Governing bodyIndiana Department of Natural Resources
Entrance of Charlestown State Park


The main feature of the park is various scenic trails overlooking Fourteen Mile Creek, noted for being one of the oldest unglaciated stream valleys in the state. On the peninsula the creek forms where it meets the Ohio River stands an isolated bedrock ridge called the Devil's Backbone. According to legend, the Devil's Backbone forms part of the remains of an ancient stone fortress built by Welsh adventurers who traveled to the Ohio Valley in the 12th century, though the story is unsubstantiated. The park does not provide any access to this peninsula from its trails. At one time there was a footbridge across the creek used for accessing the Rose Island amusement park, but only concrete pilings remain on each side of the creek.

Devonian fossils and karst sinkholes can be found in the park, in addition to 72 species of birds, including bluebirds, black vultures and bald eagles.

The park is scheduled for $3 million in improvements, which were delayed in January 2006 when workers building a new boat ramp found a Native American cooking area dating back to 2,000 B.C. The remains of firepits and stone slabs that would be used to crack nuts were found, as well as Laurel chert, from which stone tools were made. Only once the archaeological surveys were done could work on the improvements, including a five-lane boat ramp and a riverfront walking trail, continue. In September, 2006 construction of the new boat ramps restarted.[3] The boat ramps opened in June 2007.

In September 2011, the historic Portersville Bridge was relocated and reconstructed to cross the creek and connect Rose Island for the first time.[4]

Future plansEdit

There are still railroad tracks and private houses on the property, and the Indiana state government is still deciding what to do with them. Future developments confirmed by the state for the park include a swimming pool, access to Rose Island via a pedestrian bridge, more trails, improvements to the campground and cabins.[5]



  1. ^ John Fleshman. "Old ammo plant cleaned up for new use". United States Army Corps of Engineers. Archived from the original on 2007-08-23. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
  2. ^ The News and Tribune - SMALL-TOWN GROWING SPURT: Charlestown deals with growing population
  3. ^ David Mann. "Boat ramp construction begins near Charlestown". The Evening News and The Tribune. Archived from the original on 2013-02-22. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-26. Retrieved 2013-04-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ State leaders sure Charlestown State Park will see improvements "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2007-07-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)