PLACES TO GO ON LAND HOME PLACES TO GO ON WATER
Evansville’s Pigeon Creek
Monday, October 21, 2013
Pigeon Creek runs through the city of Evansville, Indiana to empty out into the Ohio River at around mile 793. It makes for a nice day trip. Today I accessed the stream by putting in from the Ohio River ramp in downtown Evansville (you’ll find that the mouth of Pigeon Creek lies only about ½ mile downstream from this point). My intention today was simply to paddle upstream on the creek to see how far I could get, but if you don’t have your own boat I know that the Wesselman Nature Society (affiliated with Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve) offers trips on this stream (http://www.wesselmannaturesociety.org/canoe/index.php).
As you start your day in Evansville you’ll note that they have quite a nice put in amid the Riverfront/Dress Plaza complex (http://www.visitevansville.com/attractions/riverfrontdress-plaza). This complex was completed as part of Evansville’s riverfront revitalization in the 1980’s when they refortified and re-designed their break wall, in the process making it much more recreation-friendly. In addition to plenty of parking for both boaters and fishermen, you can also now walk or bike along a path that runs through this complex and beyond - the Riverfront Corridor Greenway Passage (http://evansvillegov.org/index.aspx?page=2102). I know that this paved path runs a good 5 miles north and then west to Garvin Park in Evansville alongside Pigeon Creek, but they also plan to add to it so that it will eventually run about 10 miles in the other direction too – south and then east to Newburgh, Indiana.
The break wall itself is
interesting as well.
It has 3
river overlook points incorporated into it to go with placards placed at regular
intervals which relate stories about the river and its history.
This spot is so popular, in fact, that they used to have hydroplane races
These made for a great
event that was sadly curtailed and then cancelled, primarily due to the general
economic malaise which resulted from the nation’s financial downturn.
I do hope they bring them back someday.
On to the paddling… As you get your boat in the water and start heading downstream (or Northbound from the ramp) you’ll find yourself in a stretch where the Riverfront Plaza begins to taper off to make way for the Tropicana Casino complex (formerly Casino Aztar) and then to the more industrial side of Evansville’s waterfront. It’s in this latter section that you’ll encounter the mouth of the Pigeon Creek between Mulzer Crushed Stone (the navigation charts have it as Evansville Materials) and the Port of Evansville (pictured below). I paddled in…
Today I would find the Pigeon Creek notable for its many bridges. In fact, the stream itself is quite easy to spot due a red span right at its entry point. This particular bridge looks like an out of commission railroad version (which they now use it as part of the bike path) but as you paddle in you’ll note that directly alongside it is another – a road span for Ohio Street. Passing under these you’ll note remnants of even older bridges along the shoreline.
A little further on you’ll pass under a Lloyd Expressway span before you pass yet another – the Franklin Street Bridge. I found the area around the latter to be quite interesting. Just before you reach the spot you’ll note what looks like an ancient culvert on your right hand side and directly above that you’ll see what looks like a railing – that’s part of the recreation path I mentioned earlier. Here you’re in the vicinity of Lamasco Park on Evansville’s near west side. Lamasco is the name of a former town which used to comprise the west side of Evansville. It later became part of the city.
As for the Franklin Street Bridge itself, I found it notable because I couldn’t recall seeing another span with such an interesting reinforcement structure. Look at how the beams underneath are interwoven and instead of solid metal in the beams themselves you’ll notice how there’s a pattern to them. Also of note here is that you’ll have an unnamed stream entering on your right side. I got in around 100 yards before it ended at some industrial buildings.
…and guess what’s next??? 3 more bridges! The first two are road varieties for Delaware Street and Maryland while the third looks like an old railroad bridge. After this point, however, you might note on a map that the more populated area of “West Side Evansville” is coming to an end, and as a consequence the bridges will begin to get a little fewer and further between from here.
Then, coming up on your left hand side, you’re about to encounter what I thought was an absolutely beautiful scene at the point of another little incoming stream. You might make it into this one around 100 yards as I did, but the beauty of this area compelled me to stop to enjoy it for a while…
Finally, here are some scenes of downtown Evansville and the ramp...
The ramp for this trip is right in downtown Evansville along the riverfront. Just head downtown and take a southwest turn on Court Street. It’ll take you right down to the water. Court Street is the one between the Tropicana Hotel and Vectren Corp.