History of the Farm
Lewis and Hazel Beeler established the farm at Exploration Acres in the early 1920’s. Their family had been settled in Tippecanoe County, Indiana since the mid 1800’s. Lewis and Hazel constructed the main gambrel barn and raised chickens, sheep, hogs, and cattle. All tillable land on the homestead was used to produce corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay. The money they earned off the land helped them endure the Great Depression with their son, Lewis Jr.
The purpose of the farm changed over the years. In the 1990’s, the Beeler family stopped raising livestock on-site, and the focus switched to farming the 550 acres of land. The farm equipment got larger as agricultural technology advanced, and the buildings on the homestead, no longer served a useful purpose. As a result, they fell into a state of disrepair.
In 2006, members of the family began discussing the possibility of opening the farm to the public as a way to restore and preserve the buildings that had sustained them for nearly a century. Over the course of 2 years, weathered paint was stripped away, weeds were wacked, rusty metal posts and fences were removed, and the farm began to take on new life. In 2008, Exploration Acres Inc. officially opened for business, complete with a 15-acre corn maze, and a modest activity area.
The local community embraced the initial venture, and the business has continued to grow since then. Today, tens of thousands of folks visit the farm each Fall to traverse the miles of maze paths and search for their perfect pumpkin. In the Spring and Summer months, couples rent the barn as a venue for beautiful weddings and receptions. Most importantly, visitors return to Exploration Acres to spend time with their family and friends, making memories around the fire pits, in the activity area, and among the cornstalks.
Owners Tim Fitzgerald and Mary Branstetter feel blessed to have the continued support of the local community, which allows them to maintain part of the family farm that was owned by their parents, Lewis and Donna Beeler, and their Grandparents. They are committed to improving their customers’ experience each year, and hope to welcome visitors for many seasons to come. At Exploration Acres, everyone is family.