Monday, December 15, 2008

Clifty Falls State Park

This news posting caught my attention since it sits in Big 10 Country. Or, if you're not into NCAA conference designations, it's located in the Hoosier State of Indiana. The following is an excerpt from the Asheville Citizen-Times:

We travel for a reason — to make new memories, to visit old memories, or to visit with friends or relatives. Last October we went to Madison, Ind., to do all three.

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The lawn of the Clifty Inn at Clifty Falls State Park overlooks Madison, one of our favorite places to sit on a lawn chair and watch the Ohio River roll by. Years ago my daughter and I visited Clifty Falls.

Clifty Falls State Park was established in 1920 to preserve four waterfalls that fall from the rim of Clifty Canyon. The park offers 15 miles of hiking trails. These trails are challenging, so after a hike remember to go to the lawn of the inn and find that chair.

The park has camping, which is second only to Spring Mill State Park in southern Indiana, swimming, picnic areas, nature center, fantastic scenery and the Inn. There are also ranger programs offered that explain the history of the park and wildlife, and offer guided hikes. One great guided hike takes the visitor to a 600 foot railroad tunnel.

Back in 1852, John Brough started building a railroad through Clifty Canyon. The railroad collapsed leaving remnants for us to visit today. After seeing the tunnel, remember that lawn at the inn? Well, it is time to visit that chair.

Now it is time to visit the waterfalls. The waterfalls heights range from 60-83 feet. The best time to see their power is in the spring. During a dry period these waterfalls tend to trickle. But none the less the walk to the escarpment is magnificent, particularly in the fall. Now what do you do after seeing the falls? That's right, back to the chair on the lawn.

Of course, a visit to the town of Madison is a must. Madison is between Louisville (Slugger) and Cincinnati (Reds). The town, named after James Madison, was established in 1809 as a river port.

The first stop in Madison is the visitor center, which has the local area maps to find local attractions and a list of special events. For example, if you visit Madison during July 4th, a must is the Madison Regatta where you can watch turbine powered boats race so fast that all other river traffic is standing still. Madison also has bluegrass music. Remember, Bill Monroe's home in Bean Blossom is not far away.

Next to the visitor center is the Jefferson County Historical Society Museum, which explains life on the river from 1809 to the present. Be sure to see the railroad station and exhibits which explain how the railroad in 1836 revitalized the town's economy. Also nearby is James Lanier's mansion. Built in 1844, the mansion depicts life in the 1850s, when Lanier was the financier of the railroad. The tour guide tells a great story about celery, too. During the Civil War, Lanier was a key player, financing Indiana's war effort.

Now you are ready to walk downtown. Madison's business district is a trip to 1900, when all the activity was on Main Street.

The architecture reminds us of the time when the horse and buggy competed with the horseless carriage. The shop windows show off the latest antiques, art, confections and places to sit and enjoy the food.

After a day in Madison, it is time to go back to that lawn chair at the inn and watch the evening rise in the east on the river town. And as the sun sets, pay very close attention to the twinkling lights as they brighten the approaching evening.

Madison is 377 miles from Asheville. If you go, remember to create memories that you can revisit.

My wife and I created new memories as we visited old memories of our daughter.

Sue and Ken Schroeder live in Arden

(excerpt from "Reader travelogue: Madison, Ind., takes visitors back a century" by Sue and Ken Schroeder • published December 14, 2008 12:15 am in the Asheville Citizen-Times)

This might give me the excuse to go waterfalling in Indiana! Ah, so many places so little time!

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