Monday, November 6, 2017

Indiana's Back Road Gems

Friday, November 3, 2017
Wabash & Erie Canal Interpretive Center
Delphi, IN

We decided to get one last camping trip in before we took the camper off for the winter.  There are a lot of back country gems throughout Indiana and this short trip is no exception.  The day before we left first Susan and then I contracted some type of intestinal virus.  It hit Susan harder than me,  We went to work in the morning and then home to bed. Susan went to work Friday morning and I loaded the camper.  When she arrived home, we hit the road.  Not a chance we were cancelling this trip.  A couple of pieces of toast for breakfast helped.

We headed for Delphi, Indiana located in North Central Indiana on US Highway 421.  US 421 crosses the Ohio River, from Kentucky, at Madison, IN and continues North through small towns like Versailles, Greensburg, Walden, and Shelbyville before reaching Indianapolis.  Out of Indianapolis it contiues through farm field and towns like Kirklin, Michigantown, Rossville and Delphi.  Delphi is the home of the Wabash & Erie Canal Interpretive Center and Museum.  It also has a small campground along the canal.  The Wabash & Erie Canal was one of four canals dug to provide a means of transporting people and goods from near Albany, NY to the Ohio River at Evansville, Indiana.  There is also a small park and Pack Boat located in Metamora, Indiana  near the Ohio border.  The canal went through Delphi, Logansport, Indianapolis, Terre Haute, and finally to Evansville.  Construction in Indiana started in 1832 in Fort Wayne, IN Upon completion in 1853 the Canal spanned 468 miles from Toledo, OH on Lake Erie, to Evansville, IN on the Ohio River.  It provided a water route that connected New York and the East Coast with the Mississippi River, New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico

The museum tells the story of the 44 year history of the canal in Indiana.  From the vision of George Washington to the final collapse of the canal in 1876 one can experience and learn about the impact the canal had on the development of the Midwest and our young country.

"Pack Boats" transported passengers and freighters took the freight.  Each boat was pulled by a team of mules or horses and they were usually switched out every 10 miles or so.

Model of a Typical Freight Boat

 Red Bridge built in 1874, is a bow string Pony Arch built to Joseph Davenports design and moved to the site from nearby Camden, IN.  The Grey Bridge is a 1913 Pratt Through Truss

The stone arch bridge was built in 1901 by John C. O'Connor.  Several stone arch bridges were built to carry the Wabash & Erie Canal across other streams.

 Typical kiln found along the canal

 Boat House and warehouse

 Actual Pack Boat used for tours in the summer

For more information on the Wabash & Erie Canal click on the link below.
Wabash & Erie Canal

Saturday, November 4, 2017
Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Refuge

On Saturday morning we got up early, grabbed coffee at McDonald's and headed for the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Refuge.  Our drive took us up US 421 through Medaryville.  We wanted to be there before sunrise to view the Sandhill Cranes appearance for social hour.  This happens at sunrise and sunset.  We got to watch the mating dances and thousands fly off to the fields to eat.  As many as 20,000 have been spotted at this refuge, between the end of September and early December as they migrate to Georgia and Florida.

Click on the links below for videos of the Sandhill Crane migration in Indiana.

Sandhill Cranes visit Indiana

Sandhill Cranes - Youtube Video 

We headed North on US 421 to Michigan City, IN, along the shores of Lake Michigan.  US 421 ends as it enters Michigan City.  In all, we drove approximately half of the 232 mile length.  We lived in Michigan City LaPorte from January 1977 to January of 1981.  Both of our children were born there and there are a lot of great memories.  We built our first home in Laporte and the blue spruce we planted is nearly 30' tall.  Our first stop was Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  It started raining, so our plan was to visit the Visitor Center and drive along the Lake Michigan to Mount Baldy and back into Michigan City.  We were collecting information for a spring trip back to the Dunes.

We arrived back into Michigan City and stopped for lunch at the Shoreline Brewery, named after the electric commuter line that runs between South Bend, IN and Chicago, IL.

We drove down to the harbor after lunch.  The sky was gray with small waves breaking on the beach.  We were able to get a few pictures of the lighthouse.

We met one of our closest friends down at the harbor a followed her back to her home in LaPorte where would spend the night and catch up on old times.  Our dogs became fast friends and they enjoyed the companionship.  We went out to a great place for dinner and when we returned Susan and Kathy spent hours talking.  In the morning we went to IHop and then headed home arriving a little after 1pm.  A fun weekend was had by all.