Grandpa’s Farm Campground in Richmond, Indiana, is celebrating its 50th anniversary of serving RV customers its 30th anniversary as a Good Sam Park. A quick look at this family business’s history shows why it has enjoyed so much success over the decades.
Before the campground was built and opened in 1964, the area was part of a farm owned by George Sheard and his wife, Dorothy. The land was heavily wooded and had a creek at the bottom. The middle fork of the Whitewater River cut through the land, dividing the farm and what is now the campground. The area was used as a cow pasture for George’s milking cows.
George’s son, William (Bill) Sheard and his wife, Miriam, lived in Fountain City, Indiana. Bill wanted to create a campground on the other side of this dividing river, so with permission from his father, he bought the land from him and turned it into a campground. The first order of business was to name the campground. Miriam had said, “My husband and I asked our four sons Jim, Tom, John and Mark, what to call it. They all agreed, ‘Why change it,’ so we called it ‘Grandpa’s Farm.’ ”
When construction began, the area was still a cow pasture. Many trees, bushes and other shrubbery had to be cleared in order to make room for campsites. After the builders finished the drives and sites, the main office building was constructed. This structure consisted of the office, laundry room and restrooms.
At first, there were 65 sites, each with a fire ring and picnic table. Most of these sites were grassy tent sites. A few sites were for small trailers; however, there weren’t many campers with trailers at the time. Campers received water from two drain-back hydrants by the restrooms. The campground was open for business.
Campsites were $2 per night; advertising had not been fashioned, and interstate 70 had not yet been constructed near the campground. Bill tried to attract customers by sending his wife to an intersection in Richmond to hand out brochures. Business improved as many customers re-visited the campground and told others about it. In 1966, the “shelter” was built. This building was used for campers to interact with one another and participate in various activities. A few arcade games, like pinball, were placed here for kids to enjoy. Saturday night bingo, Sunday morning church services and other planned weekend activities were started and continue today.
In 1967, Bill had a section of the river near the campground dredged out for swimming and added sand for a small riverside beach. This became known as the “swimming hole.” In 1978, a heated in-ground swimming pool was installed behind the shelter. The pool still is heated today and keeps the temperature at 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
In 1999, Bill passed away, and his youngest son Mark Sheard and his wife Michelle bought the campground from Miriam. As time passed, the campground expanded and more sites were added. The campground now contains 50 acres and 95 sites. There is now 30- and 50-amp electric power and water on every site. Some sites have sewer. Site prices have increased from $2 to $28-$32 per night.
Grandpa’s Farm continues to welcome guests with great amenities and outstanding customer service.