Origin Park is a massive climate-adaptive park that provides an expansive outdoor landscape to serve visitors from near and far. Simultaneously, it hopes to highlight the historical aspects of the region.

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A map of the Origin Park

Located in Indiana, just across the river from Louisville, Origin Park was slated for completion in 2021 but hit some permitting delays. The project has finally broken ground and, when completed, will cover a revamped 600-acre area of neglected land along the Ohio River. 

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A person walking along a stone path amidst a forest

At an estimated cost of $130 million, the completion will compete with the likes of some of the biggest park systems in the country. After several years of planning, the master plan for Origin Park includes a canoe and kayak launch, offices, an event center, a comprehensive web of pedestrian and multi-use pathways, a canopy walk and even a ranger station. The robust design incorporates green space, open meadows, river walks, overlooks and gathering spaces. 

A field opens to a lake

“Origin Park is designed around the Ohio River and centers around the ‘dynamic factors’ from which the water comes. From the standpoint of the master plan, everything about this place comes back to water,” said Susan Rademacher, executive director of River Heritage Conservancy.

The name Origin Park comes from the rich history of the region, which includes the claim of the launching point for the Lewis and Clark expedition. The location has been a river crossing point since the time of the first European settlers. It was also the site for the end of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, which ferried slaves to safety in the north. 

A lake with people kayaking on it next to a dirt pathway

The redevelopment of the region aims to focus on three main goals, the first of which is climate resiliency. Landscape Architect Lucinda Sanders, President and CEO at the Olin Studio, took into account a future Ohio River that will likely hold 30% more water in 50 years than it does today. To mitigate flooding, the park will feature elevated walkways and ground-level walkways will become paddling areas until the water once-again subsides. This plan for climate-related changes is the first anywhere in the Midwest region of the country. 

A father and daughter biking on a pathway

The second goal: to create a cultural attraction that embraces the unique attributes of the region. There will be historical markers, Clark Cabin and engaging story-telling displays.

Lastly, the third goal is to have a positive community impact. An estimated 1.2 million people live within a 30-minute drive of the park, creating an opportunity for innumerable people to visit, learn, explore and enjoy the space. Organizers plan to embrace the opportunity to share information about the environment and sustainable actions. The park will also provide around 2,300 jobs, which will create economic support for the area. 

+ Origin Park

Images via River Heritage Conservancy