Monday, September 21, 2009

A Lesson in Indiana History-Part 1

Sunday, Sept. 20th, was not a particularly unusual day, except maybe to me since it was the 2nd anniversary of my 28th birthday! To everyone else, it was just a gloomy pre-fall day with the threat of rain in the air.

With no particular plans for the day, I decided I wanted to hop in the Jeep and just drive. You know, head out for no where special in mind and see what the day brings. We like to call it, "following our muse". Maybe we would find a unique antiques store or some out of the way dive to eat lunch, who knows! It's something we like to do and unknown adventures are always around the next corner. Little did we know this adventure would turn into a history lesson!

Leaving the house and heading west on State Rd. 47 we breezed through Thorntown. Living only 10 or so minutes away, we weren't too interested in stopping as next weekend is the annual Festival of the Turning Leaves and we will likely end up there anyway. For information on this quaint little festival, visit the website at: You will also find some interesting facts about the town's birth. The Festival is a great event for families and only a short drive north and west of Indianapolis.

Following State Road 47 out of Thorntown led us through some beautiful rolling farm land. Lovely grand old homes, horses a'plenty and we were even surprised to see a couple of longhorn cattle. A few miles out of town, we spied a sign announcing a community called Darlington. Never having been there, and since it's not even on the map, we couldn't resist and veered off to the right. At first we weren't certain we'd made a good decision as the first thing we came to was a stately old cemetery, with five of the largest crows I've ever seen standing guard over several tombstones. It was a Kodak moment for sure and wouldn't you know, I hadn't brought my camera.

Despite the seemingly good sized cemetery, the community of Darlington is charming, albeit small. Unable to locate a diner or cafe or actually, anything that was open, we moved on. As we left the quiet little burg we were surprised to find a beautiful covered bridge on the outskirts of town. Built in 1866 and 166 feet long, the bridge did not appear accessible by car. We chose not to get out and walk down to visit the bridge, our muse seemed to be pushing us on.

If you are thinking about visiting the Thorntown Festival,
a quick side trip to visit this historical bridge in Darlington would make for a great family outing

Leaving Darlington and passing through Crawfordsville, we continued our trek down St. Rd 47 and somewhere between there and the unincorporated community of Parkersburg, the sun came out. A historical marker on the side of the road caught our attention so we stopped to check it out. Nearby this marker there is also a sign pointing out a natural spring that was established in 1822.

The historical marker was quite interesting! Chief Peter Cornstalk??? Never heard of him! I remember learning about the Miami tribe of Indians when I was in school, but not this particular Chief. Was it a joke, a name someone made up??? Surely not as this information was prominently displayed on a Montgomery County Historical Marker.

It was disappointing that the sign mentioned the Indian villiage had been only 3 miles from the spot but gave no further direction as to East, West, North or South. As we continued on our journey, I determined to Google the Chief when I got home and was certain I would never find information to support the marker.

Just after driving through Parkersburg (and not blinking) a road sign appeared telling us that Racoon, Indiana was just off the beaten path to our left. Suddenly our muse kicked into high gear and we were off like a shot. At the time we had NO idea why we felt compelled to check out this supposed town named after a furry Indiana native but we did. We are not sure if we ever really drove though Racoon, Indiana. If we did, all that was there were a few houses, some occupied, some abandoned.

The paved road we were on came to a abrupt end and we found ourselves sailing down a gravel path that looked, for all the world, more like a private drive than a public road. Normally a gravel road would not have been our choice no matter what our muse was saying but that's because we typically have the top off the Jeep on our adventures. Not this day though and we forged ahead. We wound our way past farms, trees and hills when all of a sudden around the next bend we came face to face with a covered bridge. Not a bridge we had to get out and walk to in order to visit, but a real covered bridge we could drive over! I yelled "stop" to my pilot as by now I realized I had my camera phone with me and nothing was going to keep me from capturing a shot.

To my amazement another marker declared the bridge and the creek passing under it, named for Chief Peter Cornstalk. This sign having been placed there by the Putnam County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The creek, Cornstalk Creek, had a small measure of water flowing down it's banks with a few floating fall colored dappled leaves dotting the top of the water here and there.

I'm going to stop my adventure here for now and will post Part 2 shortly. Don't want to bore anyone with such a long tale and besides, it's late and am having trouble keeping my eyes open! I hope you will stay tuned for Part 2 as the adventure became even more interesting after we passed through the Cornstalk Bridge! You won't want to miss it.

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