O’Bannon Woods State Park

Indiana, Harrison County

river mile 661

River access: no. Tree cover: covered. Impervious surface: none. Landscape design strategy: State Park style. Information about the Ohio River: little to none.

O’Bannon Woods State Park is named after a popular recent Indiana governor, Frank O’Bannon. As the State Park website says, it has a lot to offer: “O’Bannon Woods was the location of one of the few African-American Civilian Conservation Corps units. The property also has a uniquely restored, working haypress barn, complete with oxen for power and a pioneer farmstead. Indiana’s first natural and scenic river, Blue River, flows through the state park and forest.” An endangered salamander, the Eastern Hellbender, makes its home in Indiana only in this river.

It’s also home to the Wyandotte Caves, a National Natural Landmark, whose most detailed description is on Wikipedia.

It has a wonderful classic nature center with collections of butterflies, bugs, and feathers, mounted in the classic natural history style. The research team found a feather on the ground: we could identify the bird it came from using these glassed collections.

What about the Ohio River? There is a sign, one sign, with an arrow on it: Ohio River, that way. But the only access is visual: a high bluff, an even higher bluff. The river is a narrow silver stripe far below. That’s too bad. Perhaps the State should acquire the property just across the Blue river, Locks and Dam 44 Historic Park and boat ramp, and make that the place for Ohio River access.

There’s an excellent State Park campground, so bicycling here would be no difficulty. For kayakers it would be a steep trek from the pullout at the base of the bluff to the campground on top of the high bluff, several miles away, so they should plan to leave their craft or to stay elsewhere.

Next park: Old Locks and Dam 44 Historic Park and boat ramp

Field research September 2015

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