Rose Island: Indiana’s Forgotten Amusement Park

Rose Island | Abandoned Amusement Park in Indiana | Vagabond RN

Indiana’s Abandoned Amusement Park

At the end of a steep, wooded trail, you will find the remnants of an abandoned amusement park. You can now visit this forgotten amusement park in Indiana.  Rose Island is located within Charlestown State Park in Charlestown, Indiana adjacent to the Ohio River.  The park was damaged by the Great Flood of 1937.  After the downpour, the park was found to be irreparable.  Hidden among the trees you will find ruins of a ticket booth, swimming pool, arched path, and pillared entryway.  Throughout the site, you will find detailed information boards and estimated flood line depictions.  There is also signage such as “hotel”, where the flood took out entire structures.  This is done so that you can imagine the layout of the park.

History

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Before the location became an amusement park, it was a picnic area called Fern Grove.  In the 1800s, churchgoers would walk down to the river with a basket of fried chicken.  Years later, it became Rose Island.  Its popularity peaked in the 1920s.

The Journey to Rose Island

 

Rose Island | Amusement Park Then and Now | Indiana | Vagabond RN
Before

 

Remants of the Steam Boat Entrance | Abandoned Amusement Park | Rose Island | Vagabond RN
After

The only way to reach the park was by steamboat or footbridge.  Families would wake up early to catch a ride on the steamboat.  The journey there was an event all on its own.

Relics Left Behind

 

The Pool

The Pool at Rose Island | Abandoned Amusement Park | Vagabond RN

Rose Island’s pool still remains in excellent condition.  For safety reasons, the pool was filled in with rocks. With G Baby running around, I was thankful for the safety precaution. The lifeguards would have been furious. Fun fact–The pool was famous for being the first filtered water swimming pool in the Midwest.

The Walkway of Roses

 

We weren’t really sure what the purpose of this path was.  We did not see any info boards about it.  It sure is creepy, though.  We had fun imagining what it might have looked like.

The Ticket Booth

Ticket Booth at Rose Island | Abandoned Amusement Park | Vagabond RN

I was worried (as usual) that they only took cash. I’m notorious for never carrying enough cash with me.  However, no one was working the ticket booth as we walked up so we walked right on through.

 

What to Bring

Backpack

Water

A basket of fried chicken or fair food (if you are a history nerd like me) or just bring some snacks

Camera

Trail Map

Toilet paper (no bathroom facilities) Prepare to pee in the woods.

Cash (for entry fee to park)

Steep Trail to Rose Island | Vagabond RN

Trail directions

After entering Charlestown State Park, find parking at the trailhead of Trail 3 and 4.  You will follow the Trail 3 loop, which begins with a steep, paved trail and then crossed the bridge over to Rose Island.  After touring the site, you will walk across the bridge and turn right to follow the loop back.  This part of the trail is rugged rather than paved.  The estimated mileage is 3 miles. The park is located 30 minutes northeast of Louisville, KY.

The Future of Rose Island

Some investors have considered rebuilding the park.  However, it has not been financially possible to restore it thus far.  It would be thrilling just to see a Ferris wheel and a popcorn maker.  Who’s with me? Let us join forces and get this place running again!

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Rose Island | Indiana's Forgotten Amusement Park | Abandonded Amusement Park | Abandonded Places in Indiana | Vagabond RN

8 thoughts on “Rose Island: Indiana’s Forgotten Amusement Park

    1. I only found out about it a few months ago myself! What part of Indiana are you in? I grew up in Southern Indiana and am currently in Bloomington until the end of May.

  1. I LOVE abandoned places. I never heard of this while living in PA, but it looks really cool. I’d love to visit. 🙂

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