It all started when…

Riverscape is more than a plan sitting on a shelf collecting dust; it is a working document that pivots and evolves as the Terre Haute community does.


  • A Riverscape environmental project that will reshape a part of Dresser was awarded $20,000 by Duke Energy after being selected by voters in the 2018 Tribune-Star Readers’ Choice Awards. Riverscape and the Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department (VC{PRD) will reclaim portions of an old junkyard and turn it into a Monarch butterfly habitat. 
  • The missing link between Terre Haute and West Terre Haute has been a way for pedestrians, bicyclists and runners to move safely along the mile separating the two.  Now that is solved, thanks to Riverscape working with INDOT, State Senator Jon Ford, the Vigo County Commissioners and Council and West Central Indiana Economic Development District (WCIEDD).  Funding has been awarded for an elevated pedestrian walkway adjacent to the south side of the National Road grade.  It comes with a big price tag, about $8.7 million. The project will let for construction in 2020.
  • Received Recreational Trails Program grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for $186,000 along with $50,000 from the VCRPDD to acquire right of way and construct a 1.1 mile trail from the Wabash River bridge to the pedestrian walkway along the National Road, with short trail extensions along the Wabash River and the eastern edge of the Wabashiki wetlands. 
  • Wabash Valley Crew opened an 80 foot floating boat dock on the Wabash River south of Fairbanks Park for use of the Crew.  


  • Annex 41 announces start of housing development construction. Annex 41 was inspired by the actions of ISU and the Riverscape vision. Annex 41 is on the former Boys and Girls Club property. It is an investment of $25 million. It opened in August 2018.
  • Phase I Complete. The City and the Sanitary District invested $125 million on a state of the art sewage disposal plant which removed the last cause of Terre Haute’s smelly reputation.  A like amount is being invested in the Combined Sewer Overflow project which will decrease dramatically pollution in the Wabash.  When done, the new sewer along the Wabash will allow for extension of the Fairbanks Park trail all the way to below I-70 where the Indiana Department of Natural Resources owns  206 acres in the Oxbow of the river, now only reached via river.  
  • There was a groundbreaking for the Riverfront Lofts (formerly American Can, Pillsbury, ICON). This became a $26 million adaptive reuse of an old factory building into 166 market rate apartments, not student apartments mind you, right on our Wabash riverfront. The project culminated several years of work by Indiana State University and Riverscape.   It opened in August 2018.  
  • Wabash Valley Crew launched. They launch from Fairbanks Park. Wabash Valley Crew is great activity for our youth. The organization has plans to bring regional Crew regattas to Terre Haute.
  • Riverscape and the Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department competed for and received a Bicentennial Nature Trust Grant of $120,000, matched by Riverscape, to acquire about 90 lots in Dresser.   This included the purchase and removal of a former auto salvage yard near the National Road at the west edge of Dresser. 
  •  Dusty boots tour of Riverfront Lofts by Riverscape introduced the building to more than 500 people.  
  • Riverscape in partnership applied to the Indiana Department of Tourism to  create a birding hub. While not funded in this round, a solid foundation has been established for execution of the plan.  


  • Wabashiki is growing as an eco tourist location for bird watchers, and is projected to increase over the years.  Thanks to the late Susie Dewey, The Wabash Valley Community Foundation and the Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department among others, we now have Dewey Point at the east edge of West Terre Haute, with excellent overlooks of the wetlands, a pavilion, restrooms and IDNR sign in kiosk for hunters.  
  •  Vice President Mike Pence, then governor, honored Susie Dewey with a Sagamore of the Wabash for her role in creating this spot. Wabashiki contains more than 10 miles of trails which connect to the levee trail around West Terre Haute, creating one of the best running spots in the Midwest, thanks to the foresight and planning of the late ISU Coach John McNichols.  Coach McNichols and two Terre Haute city government representatives visited  Eugene, Oregon and Boise, Idaho and came back inspired to make Terre Haute Cross Country Town USA with Wabashiki trails playing an important role.  Each year ISU contributes $25,000 toward the upkeep of the trails, maintained by Vigo County Parks.  The trails are used year round by ISU track and field and cross country teams and the cross country team from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College as well as other schools and local runners.  
  • ISU has extended the Heritage Trail from Fourth and Tippecanoe to the Riverside Lofts and along the river south to First and Cherry.   Riverscape is working with the city and ISU to find the best way from there to the the Fairbanks Park tail and westward to the Wabashiki.
  • Riverscape received a $10,000 grant from Lowe’s Foundation to construct a small parking lot to serve the starting point for the Ag Levee trail, south of Dresser.  The lot was finished in late 2016.  
  • The Vigo County Redevelopment Department acquired the 65-acre site of the former International Paper plant for future development in the Riverscape plan.  Later the site was transferred to control of the Vigo County Commissioners who considered it as the site of a new jail before abandoning that idea.  Riverscape hopes the site, across from Voorhees Park and the Aquatic Center, will become a revitalized recreational development area near the Wabash River.  


  • Wabash Valley Art Spaces launched an ‘Turn to the River’ with the aim of connecting folks visiting Downtown Terre Haute and local residents to the River.   Turn to the River is a plan in action to renew the city/county government parking lot. The plan extends to Wabash Avenue by a pedestrian promenade to the site of the former Wabash Avenue bridge, where a gathering area and river overlook will be constructed.
  • Vigo County Aquatic Center Opens. With the location of the skate park and the Vigo County School Corporation Aquatic Center in Voorhees Park,it stands to reason that the IP property and the Western Tar property can serve a recreational use.   


  • Indiana State University broke ground on Gibson Track and Field Complex. ISU started buying vacant and decaying property west of Third Street to the river.  With the help of Max and Jackie Gibson, Terre Haute now has a track and field complex second to none in the Midwest.  Looming behind it is the American Can building, constructed in 1930 to serve the now vanished food processing and brewery industries.   Then Pillsbury operated here for 2 decades, followed by ICON, a warehousing operation.  The Gibson Complex opened in 2015.  
  • The restoration of the Wabashiki Wetlands has become a haven for bald eagle watching, along as a home of many other other bird species using the migratory flyway of the Wabash, as well as hundreds of deer and other animals.  And most importantly, it is contributing to the continual cleaning of our river, making it more attractive to more species of sport fish and a restoration of the mussel population.   


Bicentennial Nature Park
  • One of Riverscapes most impactful works in progress is conversion of the former settlement of Dresser/Taylorville into a passive nature park which will be the gateway to Wabashiki.  Thanks to the efforts of Vigo County, FEMA, West Central Indiana Economic Development and Riverscape, all but about 10 households have been relocated from Dresser, and a large percentage of the land acquired.  All of this is in a floodway and no construction is allowed.   It is government policy to relocate residences out of areas which frequently flood. 


  • Indiana Department of Natural Resources property ‘Wabashiki’ was formed. Ducks Unlimited (DU), on behalf of eight conservation partners, secured a $1,000,000 North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to permanently protect and restore approximately 4,000 acres of wetlands in southwestern Indiana. Grant partners include the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Duke Energy, The Nature Conservancy, National Wild Turkey Federation, Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department, Wabash River Development and Beautification, Inc., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The funds were used to protect and restore 4,000 acres of forested, emergent and scrub-shrub wetlands critical to waterfowl in twelve counties in southwestern Indiana. 
  • A key component of this grant is the acquisition by IDNR of 3,400 acres of bottomlands adjacent to the Wabash River near Terre Haute for inclusion into the future Wabashiki State Fish and Wildlife Area, an approximately 5,000-acre brand new public recreation area. 
  • Wabashiki comprises more than 7,000 acres of land and water and its success inspired Governor Mitch Daniels to form the Healthy Rivers Initiative and fund it to eventually extend Wabashiki to 43,000 acres from Parke to Sullivan Counties, headquartered here in Terre Haute, the Queen City of the Wabash. 

Future Projects:
Makeover the Fort Harrison Fort. 

  • Riverscape envisions a trail north from the Riverside Lofts along the route of the Wabash and Erie Canal along North First Street, all the way to the site of Historic Fort Harrison.  A Riverscape committee has worked with Dr. Venkatt Reddy at The Landing to find a proper way to recognize this historic location connected with Presidents William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor.  Riverscape’s efforts inspired Dr. Reddy to clear the site of the Ehrmann Pavilions, built in the early 1900s to help celebrate the centennial of Terre Haute and Vigo County.  Plans are underway to reconstruct them.

Construct Overlook on Western Banks of Riverfront

  • The proposed Vigo County Bicentennial Park in Dresser will mirror Fairbanks Park and provide scenic views of the river and Terre Haute.   It would become a nice place to watch the July 4  fireworks. 

Mother Theodore Trail

  • Another major project is the Saint Mother Theodore Trail, connecting Terre Haute with Saint Mary-of -the -Woods College and the Sisters of Providence.  This will be part of the Heritage trail and connect three of our local colleges and universities  together:  Saint Mary’s, ISU and Rose. 

Makeover AmVets Building

  • Riverscape is working closely with Amvets in ways to improve the outside of their property and utilizing the former park to make this area an attractive entrance to Terre Haute from the west.  

The Southwest Industrial Corridor.  

  • This spans the area from Fairbanks Park south to right beyond I-70.  This area includes Terre Haute’s industrial heart for a century with Commercial Solvents, Weston/International Paper and Western Tar. All provided thousands of jobs over the years.  It was also part of what gave Terre Haute its reputation for smell over the years, disturbing to some, the smell of jobs and money to others.   Because of changing times and technology, those jobs and plants are now gone, leaving Terre Haute with an opportunity to reuse these properties for the 21st Century.  If we do nothing, they will either sit and decay, or will be parceled out with uses beneath the possibilities  this land holds.  
  • The Riverscape plan envisions some of this land to be used for parks, recreation and greenspace, some for commercial, retail and housing.  Again, our community has its share of doubters, not believing that we as a community can make this vision come true.  Some of those people didn’t believe that Dresser could be transformed.  Or that Wabashiki could ever happen.  Or that the only use for the ICON building would be to be deposited in a landfill.  All three of those properties—Commercial Solvents/WET, International Paper and Western Tar, are either available or will be soon.

Ball fields

  • Riverscape has a concept for three four plexes of baseball/softball fields with moveable fences that would allow Terre Haute to host the kind of weekend meets that many of our families now attend around the state.  
  • When the Vigo County Redevelopment Department, at our behest, acquired the IP property in December, our next step was to pursue an update of a development concepts, what we need in this community and what the best use of the property would be.  This has been delayed by possible location of the new jail on the property.  The Vigo County Commissioners have decided not to do that, so we intend to resume planning for the best reuse.    
  • Riverscape believes the vacant properties along Prairieton Road make great sense for this kind of development.  They are near our retail, hotel and restaurant complex.  It is  across the street from a city park with a skate park, due to be expanded, and an Aquatic Center.  They are visible from I-70 and a short drive via Margaret Avenue.

Convert Settling Ponds into Nature Park

  • The City of  Terre Haute has plans for conversion of the former settling ponds of International Paper to a passive park and lake, surrounded by a trail, similar to 500 Maple Nature Park. Already, the work done in this area, immediately adjacent to the IP property, is massive and impressive.