Our long-awaited trip to Brown county, into the foothills of the Cumberland mountains, came off Sunday. I'm sorry to say that we had to drive an automobile, as you probably observed by the weather.
The entrance into Brown County State Park is through a covered bridge of ancient vintage, similar to the one at North Manchester. We paid the small fee assessed by the state for the upkeep of the park and entered the fine system of black-topped drives. At the gate they handed us a map of the area.
Generally the park drives consist of a large figure eight, or one small circle and a large circle. Of the park's magnificent 17,678 acres, only a small fraction are covered by the drives. The rest of the gorgeous view is caught in glimpses through valleys and from specially built out-look towers.
The small circle of roadway is all black-top. Its wide, sweeping curves circle and dip, twist and climb in a series of gentle undulations from the north gate around to the left and back almost to the north gate again. Half-way around this circle you have the opportunity to turn left into the center of the circle to the Abe Martin Lodge. Here is where we ate a fine chicken dinner.
As we walk out of the lodge and stood on the stone patio, the view was magnificent. A smooth lawn of green grass, well kept and raked, stretched away in front and downward. It narrowed almost imperceptible, until your eye was captured by the valley below. Banks of trees swept upward, high and higher to the pinnacle of the surrounding hills, shielding the tiny patches of white buildings here and there, a snip of roadway visible occasionally, but all --just all -- lost in the vastness of wood, hills and distance.
Well, if you elect to return to the perimeter of the smaller of the two circles, a turn to the left will put you on the big circle. This road, too, is black-topped up as far as the wildlife exhibit.
Here is where we saw Bambi, the baby deer, and the children poked their fingers through the fence, touching his warm and friendly nose. Yes, his nose was warm, because I tried it too. He had no fear and peered at you from deep, brown eyes, that really looked intelligent.
If you continue on from the wildlife exhibit in Brown County Park, you would be driving on the large circle. This road changes to crushed limestone and is quite a ways around. It is not for the timid, for it travels through deep and dense forest, climbs so steeply upward that full car power is necessary at times and when it rushes downward into the valleys, hairpin turns and the steepness of the angle again brings cheers from the children.
When we completed the big circle, we headed west on a road which leads away from the intersection of the hour-glass-shaped drive. About half-way out we came to the west over-look, a tower of limestone and log, which stands upon one of the highest hills of the park.
It was here that we spotted quite a party from Warsaw. We waved gaily from the tower as they passed in their car--you know--like travelers in the desert. They were Mrs. Hazel Murphy, her mother, Mrs. Minnie Jameson, daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Slaubaugh and registered nurse Waneta Schultz with Charles Alexander. In another car were Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Daniels, of North Grant street. It was a nurse day at the park, I guess, for Mrs. Daniels is also a nurse.
This outlook offers the finest view of the park, offers the finest view of the park, if a comparison can be drawn. The fog and low hanging mist caused the coloring to be more subdued than usual in Brown county, but it had its compensations. Extremely interesting to me, was the visible formation of clouds below us in the valleys. We could see wisps of cloud hanging high in the trees, moving ever so slowly upward, as if they were reluctant to leave. The various layers of cloud would separate and suddenly you could see hills in the distance that you didn't know were there before. The mist and clouds kept the picture constantly changing and in their own way made our day at Brown county different than most.
It would be a wonderful place to go anytime during the summer, up to about now. The foliage, however is thinning and I doubt if another week will leave very much to see.
We selected a rather scenic trip back from Brown county, too, which I would like to tell you just a little about. When you go out the west gate--remember, we entered from the north, it is possible to drive into Bloomington in a few miles, coasting mostly down the hills into the valley which contains the university city.
Actually I guess Bloomington is not in a valley, but is rather the approach to the valley straddled by Martinsville and that's the way we went. It was approaching dusk as we wheeled by the stately limestone buildings of Indiana University on Highway 46. We left Bloomington on Road 37 and cast appreciative eyes upon the characteristic mountainside streams, which splash brilliantly over limestone creek beds. Here, along Road 37, is one of the prettiest recreational and picnic parks of the state. Rustic is the word for it.
Down into the valley of the White river we traveled, turning northeastward for Indianapolis and home. Day was ending again and hardly had yesterday's fog ended than a new fog began to rise from the rapidly cooling ground of the rich lowlands.
It floated in over the highways, keeping us down to a speed at which we could really enjoy the countryside. Fog rose in a thick layer that we could see over, but not under. It was here that night fell, so quietly and easily, that we didn't know it was coming. Blankets of darkness dropped over the hills, bounding from pillow to pillow of fog, slowly enfolding everything, our day included, in its mantle of night. As Alice said at that time, the day, the scenery, the air and the night were soft --ever so soft.
Warsaw Times Union, November 2, 1948