The proposed elimination of a large portion Mounds State Park for an unneeded “water supply” reservoir brings to mind a poignant excerpt from Long Knife– The story of a great American hero, George Rogers Clark by Hoosier historical novelist James Alexander Thom. In his Author’s Note at the end of the novel, Thom recounts his visit to the monument on the bank of the Ohio River which marks the location of Clark’s home. As he searched for the monument, he spoke with several residents of the area who had no idea what he was talking about.
“A succession of such encounters followed as I drove among shopping centers, roller rinks, mobile home parks, chain restaurants, discount stores, and ice cream shops where men and women with listless eyes and overstuffed shorts waited in line to be served. … The stone marker stood across the street from a row of modest residences. The evening was full of the snarling racket from a chain saw somewhere nearby. The words on the monuments bronze plaque were dwarfed the spray-painted declaration, “I hate Debbi.”… The air was dirty. Upriver and downriver, great steel bridges spanned the Ohio. Smokestacks jutted into the horizon. High tension wires spanned the river, lie a string of Eiffel Towers. There was no Falls of the Ohio anymore, not any Corn Island; locks and dams and erosion, I knew, had smoothed them out many decades ago. … The roadside was strewn with empty beer six-packs. Traffic droned and whispered by; spillways of the hydroelectric plant across the river hissed and hushed. Rock music was coming from somewhere.”
Would this be the ultimate fate of Mounds State Park, the White River, and the wider area surrounding the planned reservoir? If this misguided (and misrepresented) economic development strategy is approved, probably so. There would be limited political will to protect the Park and its environs from the unbridled commercialism and unplanned urbanization which befell the site of Clark’s former home and many other sites of our early Territorial and State history.
(ironically, Thom also notes that: “Still another story could be told of George Rogers Clark the naturalist and archeologist. He was the first to advance the now accepted theory of the origins of the Mound Builders civilization. And John James Audubon sought him out as the authority on bird species in the West).