News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Valley Life

August 11, 2013

Points of interest along the Wabash: Parks, diners, nightspots — even ice skating — surround Wabash at Lafayette

LAFAYETTE — Lafayette and West Lafayette share the liveliest riverfront on the Wabash.

The most compelling sights depend upon a visitor’s tastes. Clearly, a huge portion of the energy on the banks of the Wabash there emanates from Purdue University. The westside campus features numerous entertainment opportunities, with Big Ten Conference sports and cultural events. The towns possess other amenities not directly connected to the college, though.

At the west edge of the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge over the river sits the Riverside Skating Center, an outdoor ice-skating rink of the West Lafayette City Parks Department. Skaters use it regularly in cold-weather months. “It always at least breaks even, which is unusual for ice rinks,” said Stan Lambert, executive director of the Wabash River Enhancement Corp.

Chances to actually see the river are many around Lafayette in Tippecanoe County. The Wabash River Heritage Trail winds along its shoreline for 17 miles, running from historic Tippecanoe Battlefield in the town of Battle Ground south to Fort Ouiatenon, named for the region’s Wea Indian tribes. The trail crosses the river twice, first going east over the Davis Ferry Bridge (a former railroad span converted for pedestrian use), then heading back west over the Myers Pedestrian Bridge from downtown Lafayette. Nearly all of the public parks in the county adjoin the river. Plenty of well-known eateries, such as the Triple XXX Family Restaurant (a 1929 diner billed as Indiana’s oldest drive-in), are within a short walk, bike ride or car drive from the Wabash, as are shops, theaters and breweries.

The stretch from Lafayette to Clinton turns markedly rural, with Attica and Covington being the largest towns.

One of the quirkiest, yet enjoyable, natural elements is the Williamsport Falls. They’re located behind an apartment parking lot, where Monroe Street crosses a railroad track. A viewing tower stands nearby, but a short walk through the woods gives a visitor a better view of the creek-fed, 90-foot falls, the tallest in Indiana.

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or mark.bennett@tribstar.com.

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