Mystery Camper Pops Up on a Sandbar on a Southern Indiana River

There are so many questions and not many answers.

Every few years, the US Army Corps of Engineers come to the Evansville riverfront to dredge the bottom of the Ohio River along Dress Plaza on Riverside Drive. This stretch of the river is designated as a Federal Navigation Channel for barge traffic and must maintain a depth of at least nine feet to keep barges from getting stuck in the middle of the river. The result is a long sandbar, or “pumpout” as it is commonly referred to because they literally suck the sand and other sediments from the bottom of the river and “pump it out” at another location, that becomes a popular destination for area boaters to dock and enjoy a day on the river.

This year, someone decided it’s a perfect camping spot too.

Mystery Camper Shows Up on Ohio River Sandbar

Evansville resident, Jon Jay, who many around the area know from his work as the sound man for a few popular bars in the area, posted on his Facebook page that someone had managed to park a camper on the pumpout. He hopped in his boat to investigate and snagged this up-close photo.

Jon Jay via Facebook

Jon Jay via Facebook

Based on this photo, it certainly appears that the sandbar is close enough to the shore that the water to left would be shallow enough that someone with a big enough pickup truck could feasibly tow the camper out there. But, it’s not close to the shore at all. Here’s a shot from the tower camera Eyewitness News uses during their newscasts that sits on top of the Fifth Third Bank building a couple of blocks away from the riverfront.

Eyewitness News Tower Cam

Eyewitness News Tower Cam

And, here’s a picture I took with my phone from Dress Plaza that really gives you an idea of ​​how far away from either shore this camper is.

Jon’s discovery quickly went viral locally on social media and left people with a lot of questions. The main one being, “how in the world did someone get it out there?” I don’t know how deep the water is around the pumpout exactly, but I have to think it’s too deep for a truck to tow out there. Does that mean someone somehow floated it out there on some sort of raft? I don’t think they could have dragged it out there with a boat because it would start to sink the further away from shore they got, right?

And, it’s not like they got it there just enough for it to sit. If you look at Jon’s photo again, he’s sitting several feet on the sand. The backend isn’t anywhere near touching the water.

This isn’t the first time someone has caught everyone’s attention on the pumpout. Back in 2017, Ollie Page managed to get his big pickup truck out there where it sat for several days.

We may never know the answer to how someone parked a camper out there, or who did it, but I think we know the reason why. To get people talking, and clearly, it worked.

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An Evansville resident recently posted a question in the “I Grew Up in Evansville, Indiana” Facebook group asking other members to share any hidden or little-known facts about our city not many residents would know. The answers were wide-ranging, covering everything from our manufacturing history to our place in Civil War, to a couple of popular landmarks still standing today that were the first in the entire state of Indiana. No matter how long you’ve lived here, chances are there will be a few things on this list you didn’t know about the city we call home.