Jasonville Indiana - Gateway To Shakamak

:: Shakamak State Park History ::

Excerpts from the Ben Sink's book, "The Jasonville Story", as featured on Jasonville historian, Max Griffith's website The Jasonville Story...Shakamak State Park is part of the Tri-County Region which includes Greene County, Sullivan County and Clay County in Indiana.

The establishment of Shakamak State Park, is an example of how great things can be accomplished where everyone is cooperative and willing to do their bit. As I write this I have before me a copy of the first letter ever written concerning this park. It is dated July 21, 1926 and is addressed to George N. Mannfeld, who was then Supt. of Fisheries and Game of the state conservation department. It is a lengthy and detailed letter of information of how, by stopping up a five foot sewer a huge lake could be created, and that no such body of water existed at that time in Southern Indiana. The letter pointed out a huge railroad fill had been made to extend the Golden Knob mine switch to the Badders mine and this would form the Lake’s dam. Estimates at the time were that it cost $150,000.

The land surrounding the proposed lake site lay in almost equal acreage in Greene, Sullivan, and Clay Counties. We convinced Governor Ed Jackson that there was a reasonable need for a park in this section of Indiana. The state had no means of buying the land and in several localities the communities were offering to donate land to be developed as state parks. A law had to be passed permitting counties to sell bonds to raise money for this purpose and to levy a tax to retire such bonds. The House and Senate both had to pass such a law, the Governor sign it, and then convince the county commissioners of each of the three counties that they should issue the bonds to pay for the land, and levy a tax. A member of the group of Park promoters was sent to Indianapolis where he remained for the last four weeks of the legislative session to lobby through the law. Others were called in almost daily to talk to some member of the legislature with whom they might exert some influence. So well were the plans laid and the groundwork done, that it was the first law in the history of the state, to that date, providing for a bond issue and a tax levy, to pass the Indiana Senate without a dissenting vote. A fine group of men from Hymera and Coalmont worked tirelessly with the local committee and called in men of influence from other part of their respective counties. After overcoming what seemed almost insurmountable obstacles the three groups of county commissioners voted to levy the tax and they purchased the land.

By this time Harry 0. Leslie had been elected Governor (1928) and he was most cooperative in advancing the project. On May Il, 1930 Governor Leslie and Richard Lieber released the first two bass in the new lake. To avoid confusion- I should have stated “the first lake”. They weighed 3¼ pounds each and were caught by Frank Hastings purposely for this occasion. During the next two years conservation department employees seined many old riverbeds and ponds and the fish rescued from these drying ponds placed in the lake. It was opened for public fishing on July 1, 1932 and has attracted thousands of fishermen each year since. A new lake built a few years later has proven to be quite attractive to fishermen. Knowing that 144,330 visitors enjoyed the park and its facilities last year will recompense, in a great measure, for time and energy expended by those who brought it about. One thousand acres of wooded land, two beautiful lakes with facilities for fishing and bathing is a decided asset to any community.

Shakamak has been host to many diving meets, kayak races, 4H and church camps, and a host of other spectacles. The Mid-States A.A.U. Championship Swim Meet was held at the Shakamak swimming pier, in which a world's record in the national junior men's 400 meter free style event, among other championship titles. Major cities have taken over a lot of the events that Shakamak used to host. When the pier at Shakamak was torn down it got rid of a major piece of history for the area. "When I was growing up I remember sitting and watching to see how many people would dive off the 32' diving tower. If there is one thing I miss most in Jasonville, it is that pier"....admin

Please visit Max Griffith's Website, The History of Shakamak State Park, for more in depth detail of the history of Shakamak State Park along with some historical photos.

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