Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Louisville: Gems Along the Ohio River

After spending the last few months in familiar territory with family and friends, we are venturing out on our own once again. Our first new area of exploration: Louisville, Kentucky where gems along the Ohio River consist of more than just horse racing and bourbon.

We stayed on the Indiana side of the river at Charlestown State Park. Located fourteen miles from Louisville, it provided large full hookup sites, wooded hiking trails, easy access to the river, and a gem of a historical site.

The only glitch was that when coming from the north on I-65, Google Maps gave us the shortest but not necessarily the most RV-friendly route.  We were directed to take Hwy 160 into Charlestown. This route ended up being scenic, but also a tad bit narrow and twisty ... a true test of the agility of the Wildebeest and the steering skills of her pilot. Sometimes, Google Maps just doesn't understand the pressure that this co-pilot is under to "nag-igate" the best route.

But all ended well, and we set out to explore our new surroundings.

A short hike from the campground and over Fourteen Mile Creek bridge lead us onto Rose Island. This abandoned amusement park is being preserved by the state park. Rose Island was a popular summer vacation destination for the citizens of Louisville in the early 1900s.

The grounds contained all the luxuries for a summer holiday including a hotel, cottages, dancehall, dining hall, zoo, roller coaster, ferris wheel, and swimming pool.

The people of Louisville and along the river would pay 25 cents to come by steamboat or cross a footbridge to enjoy the recreational area that was developed in 1923 by businessman David Rose. The park entertained 135,000 people a year until it was destroyed by the great flood of 1937 and abandoned. Over the years, the land has returned to a more natural state, but hints of its former life still remain. As we joined the park ranger for a walk around the abandoned playground, she pointed out remnants and shared stories of days gone by.

The purpose of some of the remains are obvious like the ...

swimming pool,

picnic tables,

archways leading across the park,

and the three pillars along the river entrance ...
... that held a placard similar to this to
welcome guests to this summer playground.

To figure out the purpose of some of the other structures, the park service relied on old photos and memories of past guests.

Located by the pool, they believe that
this was a bathing suit rental stand.

And because of its central location,
this is believed to have been a water fountain that
doubled as a home for the baby allegators
that Mr. Rose brought from Florida every summer.

The purpose of some structures, however, remains unknown. We had fun speculating what this concrete trough-shaped structure was used for ... Any guesses?

The best theory is that it was a large ice water holder providing cool water for the visitors when they arrived at the park. Many Rose Island guests believed that it contained fresh water pumped up from an underground stream. But, in reality, there is no holes in the bottom of the concrete holder or underground stream in this location. Thus, the current theory is that Mr Rose, who had an ice making machine on the property, would have his employees fill the trough with ice water every day. Not sure that I would want to drink the water that sat in a dirty concrete container for long periods of time.

Most certainly, a walk through the Rose Island of yesteryear was a fun way to combine a history lesson with a walk in the park!

On the weekend we headed to Louisville to explore the river city. We figured out that we could avoid paying the toll bridge and parking costs in Louisville by just parking in Jeffersonville, Indiana and biking across the Ohio River on the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge. While we did not put on our derby attire and head to Churchill Downs, we did enjoy biking along the river and through the neighborhoods of Louisville to discover ...

scenic bike paths that lined both sides of the river,

majestic mansions in the
Old Louisville neighborhood, 

along with fancy neighborhood fountains,

and a "Cheers" style pub where
everybody knows your name.

And while Louisville is known for their bourbon, we are not so much into that ... maybe someday we will expand our horizons. But for now we were happy to discover a gem of brewery just across the river in New Albany, Indiana. 

Floyd County Brewing Company sported a Medieval Pub theme and delivered top-notch ales, fish n chips, bread pudding, and ...

... that long awaited coaster from an Indiana brewery!

The perfect combination to fuel our journey back ... and get us excited for more gems to discover as we continue RVentures south to Nashville.

We have our tickets for the Grand Ole Opry but would appreciate any suggestions on what else to see and do in Nashville ... music, food, brews, another state capitol building??!!

Until next time ... continue to appreciate the gems around you ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

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  1. So much beauty to discover in this country! Thanks for following along!

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