Visitors explore Camp Scott Wetlands, share stories

The International Harvester tower can be seen in the background of the Camp Scott Wetlands.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Staff members with Fort Wayne City Utilities opened up the gates of Camp Scott Wetlands for an open house Saturday.

Despite the hot weather, several people journeyed through the area along Oxford Street, learning about the land.

“Camp Scott is our constructive wetlands that we use for water quality improvement and help to reduce flooding and basement backups,” Mary Jane Slaton explained.

The people with City Utilities are proud to talk about Camp Scott, an old dumping ground that now serves as tool for the department.

A bee buzzes around wildflowers growing at Camp Scott Wetlands.

“I think a lot of times people think of utilities just as ‘I get my water bill every month and I have to write a check,'” Slaton said. “This is an opportunity for us to interact with the community share some information about the good things we do and give them a real stake in what we do.”

Among those looking for a stake, a high school student who runs an enviromentalism program at Snider.

“We are at this preserve trying to learn about new ways that we can help out the community,” Maxwell Eckelbarger said enthusiastically.

He took note of the plant life at Camp Scott.

“They have some native plants here that are being threatened by the invasive species, so maybe in the future we can go in and take out those invasive species to make it a better habitat,” Eckelbarger added,

A City Utilities tour guide talks with a group at Camp Scott.

Another reason people visited Saturday: the history of the land. That habitat was once part of a World War Two prisoner-of-war camp.

“My father Tom Newton was here, in the Army at Camp Scott.” Carolyn Deweese shared.

Her dad met her mom in Fort Wayne while he served as a guard at the camp. She told NewsChannel 15 she was excited to be back at the spot and connecting with people who know that history.

“Naming it Camp Scott… It’s a nice memory for me,” Deweese said with a smile. “It’s sentimental. I appreciate that and I appreciate being here today.”

Camp Scott is only open to the public a handful of times through the year. City Utilities does offer private tours at other times though.