Long before settlers cleared the blanket of trees from what became Hendricks County, long before displaced tribes people of the Eel River clan of the Delaware Indians encamped near Big Walnut Creek, glaciers covered the terrain.
Obviously, no one today remembers those times. However, research into the background of today’s McCloud Nature Park has unearthed a trickle of recollections of more recent times.
Area senior citizens recall hiking and picnicking at the park (known then as simply “McCloud Park”) many years ago when the Eel River Township property was in private hands. Others have come forward with family stories.
Reportedly, traces of the Delaware encampment were detectable as late as the 1950s. Anyone who remembers is welcome to step forward. Perhaps someone who discovered artifacts while hiking across the 230-acre site years ago could share a look at their finds.
In order to tell the entire McCloud Nature Park story, we’re renewing a call for people with historic or anecdotal information about the area to come forward, along with those possessing Native American artifacts discovered there.
Photographs, especially, are highly desirable, not only because of the people depicted, but because of any identifiable site scenery as well. A forgotten treasure may be awaiting rediscovery in an old family album.
We want to interview descendents of those who lived here early in the history of McCloud Nature Park. Already, we’ve met some of the descendents of “Granny Kate” McCloud. An actual original photograph of the McCloud matriarch would be treasured.
The park, unarguably, is Hendricks County’s most naturally beautiful attraction, and played a vivid role of the county’s colorful early history.
Perhaps someone knows where the moonshine stills were sited, or possesses memorabilia from that earlier time.
The park’s history, as it is known today, is disputed, as if often the case with oral histories and foggy recollections.
Nearly three-quarters of a century ago, only a part of today’s park property was in use, attracting crowds of picnickers and family reunions. Local cattlemen convened meetings there, for example.
Back in the 1920s, former North Salem resident Frank Davidson, an attorney, dreamed of creating and offering to Indiana a state park. Those plans went awry sometime during the nation’s Great Depression.
Today’s park board has picked up the fallen standard, establishing the first county park. Truly, it is a natural attraction that few county residents knew existed until recently.
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