History + Heritage

Whether you are a life-long resident of just visiting Elkhart County, there are numerous opportunities to experience the history and heritage of the region in our parks system.

Meander through one of the cultivated gardens blooming within the parks, such as the DeFries Calendar Garden, Cobus Creek’s Sensory Garden, and the Dahlia Garden at Bonneyville. Experience the county’s agricultural traditions in action at the historic Bonneyville Mill, tour the Elkhart County Historical Museum for rich stories of the region, or explore landscapes shaped by the past at one of our historic sites. For an even deeper look, attend one of our engaging interpretive programs led by expert historians and naturalists.

Timeless landscapes shaped by the region’s history reveal stories of our heritage within the Elkhart County Parks.

The circa 1830s Bonneyville Mill honors generations of rural tradition as Indiana’s oldest continuously operating grist mill. This rustic site continues to delight visitors who come for a taste of stone-ground flour and local history.

At River Preserve County Park, the line between the past and present blurs further. Everywhere you turn, remnants of the past can be encountered. Near Baintertown Park once stood the 18th-century Potawatomi village named for Chief Five Medals. The region was also home of some of Elkhart County’s first settlers of European descent. River Preserve traces other historic elements along its length, including the beautiful DeFries homestead.

The Elkhart County Historical Museum in the 1903 Bristol School is the perfect starting point for a fun history overview before setting out to explore the historic sites of the parks.

Elkhart County’s rich history may be explored through a wide range of school field trip experiences, both at the parks and in your classroom.

Check out our events calendar for upcoming programs and that offer views into the history, heritage, and traditions of Elkhart County’s past and present. From historic tours and holidays celebrating the season, to unforgettable gatherings, there is so much to explore and discover.

Culinary Experiences

Enjoy a variety of culinary experiences offered throughout the year. History, horticulture, and nature come together in programs ranging from a Cornbread Bake Day and Dutch Oven Cooking, to Wild Edibles and (on occassion) even Bugs!

Create baked delights with your own family recipes or try some of our suggestions using stone-ground products from the Bonneyville Mill.