Sunday, March 19, 2017

Canal's Gronauer Lock could be reburied

Canal's Gronauer Lock could be reburied 25 years after it was first resurrected

New Haven Utilities Superintendent Dave Jones said the wooden remnants of the 175-year-old Gronauer Lock, unearthed during road work in 1991 and stored in holding tanks at the city's old sewage treatment plant since 2003, will be reburied soon in nearby Havenhurst Park at a cost of about $8,000 -- with only a plaque left to alert passersby to the unseen presence of a key piece of the area's canal-days heritage. Concrete weights were placed on the timbers to keep them from floating to the surface and drying out. (Photo by Kevin Leininger of The News-Sentinel)
New Haven Utilities Superintendent Dave Jones said the wooden remnants of the 175-year-old Gronauer Lock, unearthed during road work in 1991 and stored in holding tanks at the city's old sewage treatment plant since 2003, will be reburied soon in nearby Havenhurst Park at a cost of about $8,000 -- with only a plaque left to alert passersby to the unseen presence of a key piece of the area's canal-days heritage. Concrete weights were placed on the timbers to keep them from floating to the surface and drying out. (Photo by Kevin Leininger of The News-Sentinel)

Tuesday, April 05, 2016 6:01 AM
You could say it was both appropriate and prophetic that a significant artifact from northeast Indiana’s Wabash and Erie Canal heyday has spent the past 13 years immersed in tanks that used to treat human waste at New Haven’s long-dormant sewage plant.
Unearthed by accident in 1991, the remnants of Gronauer Lock could soon be reburied on purpose — at government expense, of course — with only a plaque to suggest they ever existed at all.
But they did, of course. The Wabash and Erie was the Panama Canal of the mid-1800s, linking the Great Lakes and the Ohio River — a 460-mile journey that would have been impossible if not for the 73 locks needed to lower and raise boats at strategic points. An Olympic pool-size wooden lock named for operator Joseph Gronauer was unearthed during construction of the interchange at U.S. 24 and Interstate 469 east of New Haven in 1991, and a small section of it has been on display since 2001 at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.
The museum sent the pieces it couldn’t use back to New Haven in 2003, and the ancient timbers have been kept underwater ever since to preserve them for uses that ultimately never came. The tanks were drained temporarily this week so a contractor could estimate the cost of burying what’s left, and New Haven’s Board of Works Tuesday was expected to approve a tentative plan for disposal and placement of a marker above its planned “grave” in Havenhurst Park.
“We’re still waiting on the state (to determine the lock’s ultimate fate), but we’re trying to be proactive,” New Haven Utilities Supervisor Dave Jones said, noting that the timbers could be buried near the water table about seven feet down in order to preserve the collection even in “death.” The $8,000 interment expense would be paid from a $100,000 grant the state gave New Haven when it assumed control of the 900 timbers more than a year after they were discovered.
“I’m reaching out to people who can provide information for the sign,” said New Haven Parks Director Mike Clendenen. “Perhaps, someday somebody will have ideas on how it could be used and funding to do it.”
That’s easier said than done, however, or the lock’s state-directed burial of what’s left of the only known wooden canal lock in existence wouldn’t be imminent. Building a museum to display it would have cost $1 million or more, and New Haven — which hosts a “Canal Days” festival every year — coudn’t afford it. Nor could the city find foundations willing to shell out that kind of cash for something of great historical value but dubious general or commercial appeal. Clendenen even hoped to incorporate some of the timbers in New Haven’s new community center, but the costs and red tape of preservation made that impractical, if not impossible.
There’s no denying the canal’s importance to local history. Before the arrival of the railroad, the mule-drawn canal boats brought both people and goods to what was little more than a wilderness. Fort Wayne’s “Summit City” nickname is rooted in its place as the waterway’s highest point, and the soon-to-be renovated downtown “Landing” really was a place where the boats loaded and unloaded.
But there’s also no denying that, hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars later, much of the Gronauer Lock could soon be back where it was before all this began 25 years ago: in the ground, out of sight and out of mind. Wasted.
It may be sacrilege to say so, but I’d rather see the remaining pieces of the lock used in creative, respectful and even profitable ways — perhaps recouping some of the public’s investment — than to see them reburied at even more public expense. Leaving the pieces in the tanks indefinitely isn’t an option, Jones said, because the abandoned plant represents a liability. Once removed, it and the tanks could be incorporated into the adjacent Havenhurst Park, which could be the lock’s resting place.
But as Clendenen noted and history shows, burial at least leaves room for resurrection. When it became evident plans to display the lock locally would be financially impractical, then-New Haven Mayor Lynn Shaw suggested entombment as an acceptable option.
“Maybe this historical wooden canal lock needs to be 50 or 100 years older before we spend the money to preserve it,” he wrote in a News-Sentinel guest column.
That was 20 years ago this month.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Canoe Evansville

Enjoy local, naturalist-guided canoe trips for groups and individuals:
  • Late April through October
  • Public trips scheduled most weekends
  • Customized trips also available, click here to learn more

Canoe Evansville Website

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Best Hiking Trails in Indiana

Find the best places to Hike in Indiana, read
Hiking Trail reviews, and view hiking photos.

We've ranked the best places to hike in Indiana using our unique hiking trail popularity algorithm that accounts for the average rating and number of reviews for a trail, the number of people who have hiked or wish they could hike at that hiking trail. Sign up for a free account and vote for your favorite hiking trails by submitting a trail review or creating a hiking wishlist today! 
1.Turkey Run State ParkMarshall, Indiana
2.Hemlock cliffsEnglish, Indiana
3.Potato Creek State ParkNorth Liberty, Indiana
4.Shades State ParkWaveland, Indiana
5.Scales Lake Park TrailsBoonville, Indiana
6.McCormickSpencer, Indiana
7.Fox IslandFort Wayne, Indiana
8.Adventure TrailCorydon, Indiana
9.Town Run Trail ParkIndianapolis, Indiana
10.Lincoln State ParkLincoln City, Indiana
11.France ParkLogansport, Indiana
12.Versailles State ParkVersilles, Indiana
13.Washington Township ParkAvon, Indiana
14.Chain O' Lakes State ParkAlbion, Indiana
15.Salamonie LakeLagro, Indiana
16.Buffalo TraceFrench Lick, Indiana
17.Clifty Falls State ParkMadison, Indiana
18.Falls of the Ohio State ParkClarksville, Indiana
19.Westwood TrailsNew Castle, Indiana
20.Indiana Dunes National LakeshorePorter, Indiana
21.Mississinewa LakePeru, Indiana
22.Wapehani MTB ParkBloomington, Indiana
23.Usi TrailsEvansville, Indiana
24.Harmonie State ParkNew Harmony, Indiana
25.Indiana DunesChesterton, Indiana
26.Monroe LakeBloomington, Indiana
27.Patoka LakeBirdseye, Indiana
28.Monon TrailIndianapolis, Carmel, Westfield, Indiana
29.Fort Harrison State ParkIndianapolis, Indiana
30.Low Gap TrailMarinsville, Indiana
31.Three Lakes TrailMartinsville, Indiana
32.Charlestown State ParkCharlestown, Indiana
33.Mounds State ParkAnderson, Indiana
34.Scarce Of Fat TrailNashville, Indiana
35.Amphitheater ParkWest Lafayette, Indiana
36.Prophetstown State ParkWest Lafayette, Indiana
37.Fort Harrison State ParkIndianapolis, Indiana
38.Muscatatuck ParkNorth Vernon, Indiana
39.Hardy Lake State ParkScottsburg, Indiana
40.O'Bannon Woods State ParkCorydon, Indiana
41.Winona Lake TrailWarsaw, Indiana
42.Valley Branch RetreatNashville, Indiana
43.Imagination GlennPortage, Indiana
44.WakefieldAnnandale, Virginia
45.Bluhm County ParkWestville, Indiana
46.Franke ParkFort Wayne, Indiana
47.Glenns Valley Nature ParkGreenwood, Indiana
48.Shakamak State ParkJasonville, Indiana
49.Summit Lake State ParkNew Castle, Indiana
50.Brookville Lake State ParkBrookville, Indiana
51.Cagles Mill Lake (Lieber SRA)Cloverdale, Indiana
52.Cecil M. Harden Lake (Raccoon SRA)Rockville, Indiana
53.Ouabache State ParkBluffton, Indiana
54.Pokagon State ParkAngola, Indiana
55.Eagle Creek ParkIndianapolis, Indiana
56.Upper Fall CreekIndianapolis, Indiana
57.Brum WoodsBatesville, Indiana
58.Bendix WoodsNew Carlisle, Indiana
59.Murdock Park TrailLafayette, Indiana
60.WalnutNew Harmony, Indiana
61.Sycamore RidgeNew Harmony, Indiana
62.Monon trailIndianapolis, Carmel, Westfield, Indiana
63.GoshenGoshen, Indiana
64.Doin-it-outdoorsLiberty, Indiana
65.Bourissa HillsNew Carlisle, Indiana
66.Southwestway-full loopIndianapolis, Indiana
67.Charles Deam WildernessBloomington, Indiana
68.McGregor ParkWestfield, Indiana
69.Yellowwood Lake TrailNashville, Indiana
70.Rangeline Nature PreserveAnderson, Indiana
71.Hickory RidgeBedford, Indiana
72.Brown County ParkNashville, Indiana
73.Potato Creek State ParkNew Liberty, Indiana
74.Strawtown Koteewi ParkNoblesville, Indiana
75.Strawtown Koteewi ParkNoblesville, Indiana
76.KnobstoneStory, Indiana

39th Annual Maple Sugarbush Festival & Pancake Breakfast

Celebrate the maple sugar harvest from the trees of Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve at our 39th Annual Maple Sugarbush Festival! Bring the family to enjoy a hearty breakfast, including sausage, all-you-can-eat pancakes with pure maple syrup, and juice, milk, and/or coffee. After breakfast, families can take a guided tour through the woods to observe how sap is harvested from the sugar maple trees, and then visit the sugar shack to witness the process of boiling the sap into pure, delicious maple syrup. Family-friendly activities add to the festivities. Maple confections will be for sale as well.
You and your family will have an opportunity to sample some of our home grown maple syrup from Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve during the event.
We welcome you to join us for this local tradition of discovery and fun in the Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve!

7:00 am - 1:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday
$8.00 for adults
$5.00 per child (ages 4-12)
Children 3 and under are free
($1/person discount for WNS members)

As we are now utilizing time specific breakfast seatings, you may reserve your tickets in advance online or in person at the Nature Center. Advance tickets are not required but are highly recommended. Those not purchasing tickets in advance may have to wait to be seated.
Buy Tickets Now - Tickets here

Maple Sugarbush Festival & Pancake Breakfast
Apr 8 - Apr 9 · Wesselman Nature Society · Evansville
You like Wesselman Nature Society

Sunday, March 5, 2017

New mobile page.

I've added some code on the main page that will detect a mobile user. It will redirect you to a more mobile friendly, scaled down main page.
Currently its the only mobile formated page available for now. There is a redirect button on the top of the page if you wish to view the desktop version.
The mobile site is here

Saturday, February 25, 2017

USI boasts many miles of multi-use trails on its scenic 1,400-acre campus

When I started my page at , Usi only had some rough backwoods trails and the USI- Burdette trail did not exist at all. Things have come a long way over the last 10 years and hopefully there will be more to come.
USI boasts many miles of multi-use trails on its scenic 1,400-acre campus open to the University community and to the public.  
The most recent trail is the USI-Burdette Trail, completed in 2012. This three-mile paved trail is the result of a USI/Burdette Park partnership. It is a diverse, interesting, and educational route for hikers, bicyclists, and runners. The scenic trail allows users to witness Southwestern Indiana’s natural beauty while connecting a picturesque park with one of the nation’s most beautiful college campuses. The trail is a key connection to an area of river bottom land, with an additional 37 miles of paved roads currently signed for bicycle use south of Burdette Park. The USI-Burdette Park Trail is a designated destination point of the American Discovery Trail, which passes through Southern Indiana. The trail also has been named a National Recreation Trail by the Secretary of the Interior.

Audubon Wetlands Trail. Hopes for an official opening in the spring of 2017.

When the Henderson County Tourist Commission recently released a video touting the area's assets people were impressed. But they went a little .... well, wild ... over one segment in particular.
What caused a stir on social media were scenes of a brand new, still unopened boardwalk sandwiched between Audubon State Park and the Ohio River in a lush wetlands area.
What was this cool attraction? How can you get out and experience it first-hand?
Well, folks, you are about to get your shot.
"A Walk in the Wetlands" preview day and open house will be from 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 24., appropriately enough, the same day as National Public Lands Day.
After a years-long effort, the Ohio River wetlands area along Kentucky 414 was formally added on to Henderson's Audubon State Park in April this year.
When the deed finalizing the sale of the 649-acre wetlands was recorded, it was the end of the long quest.
In 2011, the Oliver estate put the land up for auction, but the state of Kentucky didn't have the funding to bid on it. Six local residents -- Robbie Williams, Scott Keach, Houston Keach, Will Esche, Tom Dempewolf and Tommy Dempewolf -- bought the wetlands paying $1.75 million with the goal of securing the area for Audubon Park.
The group of men transferred the wetlands property to the Southern Conservation Corp., and the acreage was then purchased with money from the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Imperiled Bat Conservation Fund.
“This really has taken a long time; I’ve been working on it for 20 years, and we had really given up on it, at least I had, ” Scott Keach said this past spring.
Since that time, officials have been working to make the site accessible to the public. That work is far from completed. There's hopes for an official opening in the spring of 2017. But park staff and others want to go ahead and give those interested a chance to take a look and a stroll.
"It's absolutely gorgeous over there when you go out on the boardwalk," said Allen Mayo, Audubon State Park trail maintenance supervisor and volunteer coordinator.
He noted the area is starting to come together.

"The boardwalk's been installed; there's the existing vegetation, birds and animals, the beginnings of the trail system."
But many things still need to be completed. Right now, there are no trail or interpretative signs; the roughed-out trails need to be groomed; there are still bridge and boardwalk areas that need to be completed, and there are also plans for an outdoor classroom facility.
There also isn't a formal parking area or entrance either. The site can't be opened up to the public on a regular basis yet, Mayo said, because "we don't want anybody to get lost or injured."
Mark Kellen, manager at Audubon State Park, said the signage can be taken care of at the state sign shop in Frankfort. The parking and entrance area, he added, will likely be completed with help from the county. But complicating it all, he said, are rules and regulatory requirements that come along with the funding sources.
Still, the Sept. 24 preview day will let folks get a good look at what's to come. And during the preview day, in keeping with the National Public Lands Day theme, visitors will be invited to help clean up the area in and around the wetlands. Despite the location's natural beauty, Kellen noted that fresh trash is deposited every time the Ohio River rises. There's also litter from Kentucky 414, which runs along the wetlands area and leads to the city's construction landfill and trash transfer station.
The addition of the wetlands area has been a boon for Audubon State Park in terms of size as well as beauty and natural diversity.
Audubon Park had been made up of about 700 acres. The new wetlands addition is about 650 acres, Mayo said, "so you are literally talking about doubling the size of the park."
Kellen, who is a member of the local tourist commission, said it's hard to fully describe what is being added to the park with the wetlands area.
"It's a totally different environment," he said. "The bird species that you'll be able to see are going to be so incredible .... wood ducks, geese, any of the birds that migrate ... herons and hummingbirds and butterflies. There's all kind of things you'll be able to see that will be totally different than what you would see in the main park now."
The wetlands area is home to three separate bald eagle nests, one of which is currently in use by an eagle family group. There's also a great blue heron rookery and -- given the wetlands location along the Mississippi Flyway -- there are too many migratory birds to list that stop in each year on their way.
All this fits perfectly with the legacy of the park's namesake, famed naturalist and artist John James Audubon. The Audubon Museum is "the world's largest collection of Audubon art and artifacts on display." Kellen said. "Couple that with the ability to experience so many different bird species, and it's an end-all, be-all for birders. It really puts Henderson on the map."
Kellen pointed out that one of the park's biggest missions is education and that will only grow with this addition. On a daily basis, the area will be open to the public as a self-guided attraction. But there will be structured programs as well for groups and schoolkids.
"This really expands on what we can do from a natural science aspect," he said.

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