Rocky Side Park

Indiana, Spencer County, Rockport

river mile 747

River access: yes. Tree cover: somewhat covered. Impervious surface: some. Landscape design strategy: State Park style. Information about the Ohio River: little to none.

One of the most charming parks! And hidden: who would believe there was a beautiful park here, tucked in under the high bluff? There are a couple of shallow caves, too — hideouts for all manner of river miscreants. Like Cave-in-Rock, Illinois and Sunset Park in Tell City, this park was inspiration for the Ohio River Parks Project. Who could have imagined this kind of landscape existed here? We wanted to do the topography — this slice under the bluff is one of the many ways the long narrow riverside parks are created — but haven’t gotten around to it yet!

The park itself is a pleasant short drive. Lots of people use it! Through a wooden archway there’s a steep drop down the hill onto a low bluff squeezed in next to the high bluff that created the name of the town. It initially was known as “Hanging Rock” — from a rock that later fell. And the low, narrow caves in the sandstone face where the first settler is reputed to have harbored his family in the early 1800’s. Safe from wind and rain — a sort of a roof overhead. And safe from marauders — easily defensible. Probably many others had done so as well — from now back to Archaic times. The 1885. History of Warrick, Spencer and Perry Counties, Indiana published in Chicago by Goodspeed, Bros & Co. has about twenty pages of history, including early merchants and residents, the establishment of banks and newspapers, discussion of the various lodges and secret societies (including an African-American one), the establishment and demise of the Rockport Philosophical Society, and mentions of pork-packing and of the longstanding debt incurred in order to breach the high bluff and create a path to the river.

The beach is narrow, but paddlers would have no difficulty pulling their craft up to the road. Bicyclists would have to contend with the steep hill down and the steep hill up on the other side. There are no services in the park but town amenities are right on top of the bluff.

Next park: Yankeetown public access site

Field research September 2015

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