Scenic river designation sought for Eel

Last Updated on April 23, 2016 by cassnetwork

Mayors from three counties along a northern Indiana river are calling for it to become just the fourth waterway recognized as an Indiana Scenic River.

The Eel River, a 110-mile tributary to the Wabash that stretches east from Logansport to Allen County through Miami, Wabash, Whitley and Allen counties, already has four canoe routes recommended on the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Web site. Ironically, the IDNR refers to the Eel as a “scenic river.” The mayors, Scott Long of Wabash, Gabriel Greer of Peru and Dave Kitchell of Logansport, made the announcement Friday at a northern Indiana Mayors Roundtable in Plymouth, and say the designation will only enhance tourism in their cities and counties.

“The Eel in northern Indiana is one of the optimum places to canoe and fish, and there is no better time to call for this designation than on Earth Day during Indiana’s bicentennial year,” Kitchell said. “We think this designation will enable more Hoosiers to enjoy this area of Indiana, and it will mean more commerce for the hospitality and recreation industries in our communities.”

According to IDNR information, log jams happen less frequently on the canoeable sections of the Eel than most Indiana rivers. While there are some unmarked dams, the designation could promote more safety precautions for rafters and canoeists, the mayors said. It comes at virtually no cost to the communities and counties involved.

The IDNR also describes fishing as “very good, yielding rock bass and smallmouth bass with channel catfish, bluegill, and red horse sucker further downstream. Some of the best stream fishing in Indiana is available along the stretch from Denver to Logansport, according to IDNR.
Wood ducks, great blue heron, kingfishers and sandpipers are among the wildlife found along the Eel.

The mayors see immediate potential for canoe livery services in the counties along the Eel, and eventually extending to those along the Wabash River to Delphi in Carroll County. The IDNR already has boat launches in Adamsboro and Logansport along the Eel, and in downtown Logansport and France Park along the Wabash.

Cass County Visitors Bureau Director Toni Savini says the trail system in Logansport and Cass County already generates tourism information request, along with canoeing, biking and swimming.

“The Eel River is a river already popular with canoe enthusiasts who enjoy spotting heron, geese, ducks and otters along their route.  There are easily accessible canoe launches along the river and the Eel is becoming known for some of the best stream fishing in Indiana. This designation will ensure that the scenic benefits and recreational uses of the river are available for visitors as well as residents of Cass County.

eelriverSouth Whitley to Laketon
This 20-mile, eight-hour section averages 75 feet in width and flows slowly having some rocky riffles. There is a noticeable pollution odor in a few areas and some debris in the water and along the banks. the put-in site is at the South Whitley City Park, one block east of the main street. Another public access is located in Gale Hagan Memorial Park which is on Buckey Street, west of State Road 5 (State Street). There is a 100 yard portage to the left at the Collamer Dam about 1 hour downstream. Another short portage is necessary around the dam near Liberty Mills about 3 1/2 hours from the put-in; the right side is recommended. The public fishing site south of Liberty Mills can be used as an easy alternative access site. At North Manchester you will find a small dam, which the canoe can be lowered over in low water. Then at Laketon another public access site is the take-out having good parking and launching facilities.
The car shuttle up to South Whitley should go north 2 miles to State Road 114. Turning Right, go east 1 1/2 miles to State Road 13 then left (north) 7 miles to State Road 14. South Whitley and the put-in are 6 miles east on State Road 14. Recreation facilities such as tennis and basketball are available at the put-in site. There is no public campground in the immediate vicinity of this float. For emergencies, doctors can be found at South Whitley and North Manchester while Wabash south of North Manchester has a hospital.

Laketon to Stockdale
This section provides a slow and meandering float. The put-in is at the Laketon Public Access Site as described above. Continuing downstream for 10 miles, about 5 1/2 hours, the float passes a public fishing site east of State Highway 15 about three hours from Laketon which can be used as an alternative access site. Fishing in the river is good and the whole section is relatively odor and debris-free and quiet. The take-out is located at the Stockdale Public Access Site on the east edge of town. The car shuttle from Stockdale should go east on State Road 16 about 6 miles to Wabash County Road 200W, then left (north) 4 miles to the river and the put-in site at Laketon. Doctors can be found at Roann and North Manchester; Wabash has the closest hospital.

Stockdale to Denver
This section flows very slow, less than 1/2 mile per hour at moderately low water levels. Little development other than agricultural is evident on the 12-mile, 6-hour trip. The put-in site for this section is the same as the take-out in the previous section, the Stockdale Public Access Site on State Road 16, except that it is necessary to carry about 200 yards downstream around the Stockdale Dam. The confluence with Paw Paw Creek is about 4 1/2 hours downstream. At the Chili Dam it is necessary to get out and maneuver the canoe around the dam but portaging is not necessary except in high water.

The take-out point is about 1 mile south of Denver. Take Meridian Street in Denver then proceed south about 1/2 mile on Meridian Road to the bridge over the Eel. The northeast corner provides access to the river. The car shuttle moves north back to Denver then east on State Road 16 to Stockton and the put-in site.

Denver to Logansport
The last section of the Eel is a meandering stream 20 to 100 feet wide and up to 5 feet deep with a rock boulder bottom. The river is moderately clear and swift at a medium water level, including many riffles and pools along the 28-mile, 8 hour trip. This stretch of the river provides some of the best stream fishing in Indiana.

The put-in is south of Denver. Take Meridian Street, then Meridian Road south from State Road 16 in Denver and go 1/2 mile to the bridge. The northeast corner provides the best access. The dam at Mexico 1 1/2 hours downstream may prove hazardous at higher water levels and should be navigated with considerable caution. During low water one can pass through the center, or portage left. The gaging station at Adamsboro is about five hours downstream from Denver.

The take-out is at Spencer Park in Logansport providing easy access at a launching ramp and parking for several cars. The best route for the car shuttle is west on High Street approximately 1/2 mile to East Rose Lawn Drive then south to U.S. 24. Turn left and head east to U.S. 31 then north to State Road 16. Turn right on State Road 16 and head east to Denver. Turn right in town on Meridian Street, the Meridian Road and go south 1/2 mile to the river and put-in site. Doctors and hospitals are available in Peru and Logansport.

SOURCE: Indiana Department of Natural Resources Web site

Kitchell says local tourism statistics recently reported indicate Cass County is benefiting from Indiana tourism, but its benefit is less than the state average.

“Our hope is to work with city and county parks departments in the counties along the Eel, including Whitley and Allen counties, to take advantage of the tourism potential,” Kitchell says. “This designation may allow our community to reap the rewards of tourism dollars that the rest of the state is enjoying. The side benefit of this is that it can lure more people off the highways through our area so that they can find some of the best places to live in Indiana.”

The IDNR has three other designated scenic rivers, Cedar Creek in northeastern Indiana, Blue River in southern Indiana, and Wildcat Creek in Carroll and Tippecanoe counties.

SOURCE: News release from Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell

Cass County Online