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It has been estimated that before the settlers began to move into Indiana there were little over 20 million acres of forest land in our state. To show how much we lost between say the year 1816 when Indiana became a state and 1917 this total had evaporated to around 1,660,000 acres. That is …

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While I write a column that is usually about nature, for several years I also did a column on Indiana history. I thus also have a great interest in the history of our state. Often nature and history go hand in hand in a number of Indiana natural sites and scenic locations.

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The Wabash River that extends across and drains a large segment of Indiana has a variety of natural and historic sites along its course. One very interesting area is located in west central Indiana, north of the town of Williamsport in Warren County.

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The dictionary states a kettle is a vessel for holding liquids and that is true. So what does kettle lakes have to do with Indiana? Well for one thing, that is what many small lakes in northern Hoosierland are called. In both the past and present times these bodies of water have ben christen…

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Some of the lesser known of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources properties are the Wetland Conversation areas. They are scattered across the state with most, as can be expected, in the northern one third of Indiana where most of our Hoosier wetlands are located.

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When I was a boy and later as an adult my family liked to vacation in Florida. We had relatives in Orlando who allowed us to spend time on both the Gulf and Atlantic side of the state.

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Dirt. The dictionary has a variety of meanings for the word. It states it can be a filthy or soiling substance, such as mud, dust or grime. Also it goes on to say loose or packed earth, and to me the key word, soil. Soil is all around us, but what do we really know about it.

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Growing up in rural southern Indiana I soon learned that many of the people had a rather unique way of looking at nature. They had their own names for a number of animals that did not match that in the field guides that I had been able to obtain.

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When we travel today it seems we almost always seek out the nearest interstate or major highway. They are the fastest way to travel if one is in a hurry, and we are always in a hurry, but if you really want to see Indiana it’s the backroads that can provide the best scenery.

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When you talk about a racerunner one most often has a picture of a human who is fast in a sprint race or has the stamina of a long-distance runner. I know what it means to run. When I was younger I did both run fast in a short race or paced myself to run the mile or two mile in high school. …

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In a past column I related two nature legends. They were the Asian lady beetle and the timber rattlesnake. The lady beetles were said to have been imported to help control ticks. I wish this was true. The rattlesnakes were reported as being dropped from helicopters by either the Department o…

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When we think of orchids we tend to picture the lovelorn ones we give to our mothers, wives, or girlfriends so they can wear them to some special event. Another vision that comes to mind is of a tropical paradise with the moonlight dancing off blue water and all that magic that seems to go w…

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While much of pre-settlement Indiana was covered by a vast forest of some of the largest hardwood trees on earth, there were also a variety of other natural features. In addition to the woodlands there was also a sizable amount of land in tall grass prairie, swamps, marshes, and other wetlan…

In a past column I related the account of my encounters with stinging caterpillars and how much pain they can cause. Let us see what these larvae look like and how you can tell them from the harmless species. Let’s start with the buck moth.

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In past columns I have related how valuable the timberlands of Indiana are to Hoosiers. They add up to $9 billion each year to the state’s economy. Let us check out some additional facts on the forests of Indiana.

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When the first settlers ventured into what would one day become the state of Indiana they found an unbroken forest that extended from the eastern section of Hoosierland to the prairies that existed in the western segment of our state. What would it have been like to have had to travel throug…

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When I think of caterpillars we usually try and picture what kind of butterfly or moth they will eventually turn into. While most are more or less harmless, there are some that can be a problem.

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In a past column I related the account of the so-called “canal war” between the men of the towns of Covington and Attica. This was during the time when the Wabash and Erie Canal was a vital segment of the economy of several Indiana cities.

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Imagine you have just had a great steak dinner at a fancy restaurant and after you went home had a good night sleep. The next morning you got up and started to fry some bacon. Suddenly you became very sick, your throat started to close up and your blood pressure began to drop. In a panic you…

In past columns I have related how valuable our Indiana forests are to the economy of our state. This value also extends to several things that may come as a surprise to many people.

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The Whitewater Valley of eastern Indiana is a very scenic and historic region. In addition to being a great canoeing stream, the Whitewater is bordered by rolling, wooded hills and side streams that have waterfalls leaping over ledges of limestone that are often filled with fossils.

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In my ramblings over the great outdoors of Indiana I have more than my share of what I call nature or rural legends. Where they start is often hard to determine, but they soon spread and before long hundreds of people believe they are true. Let us take a look at one of these nature legends. …

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The Covington area of west central Indiana is a region that is rich in both nature and history. Located on the Wabash River, the town is just a few miles south of one of the most scenic natural areas in Indiana. This is the Portland Arch Nature Preserve.

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As I have traveled across the state of Indiana I always enjoy looking at the names of the cities, towns, villages and hamlets that I pass through. Coming from Cumback, what else could you expect? Some are to say the least, strange, while others are associated with nature, history, or famous people.

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My column on what I call outdoor legends has generated more interest than I ever dreamed of occurring. There have been more letter, phones calls and personal contact than I can list. So here goes another outdoor legend.

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Gene Stratton Porter is one of Hoosierland’s most revered authors. She wrote many books about the wonders of nature inspired by her early years when she roamed the wild lands of northeastern Indiana.

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In a past column I featured several areas where extensive forests still exist. Among these sites are the Brown County hill region, the wooded areas of south central Indiana, large tracts near Martinsville and Spencer, and the knobs region that extends from the Ohio River to the Muscatatuck R…

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I continue my series of columns on outdoor legends with what I call real old-timer stories. These are from people, most well up in years, who can really spin a good tale.

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Indiana once was covered by a vast forest of some of the most majestic hardwood trees found anywhere in the world. While only scattered traces of this forest remain, there are sections of the state where extensive woodlands still exist.

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One of the natural features of Indiana that I really enjoy are the many large springs that issue from their subterranean abode and gush forth into the sunlight. Hoosierland is blessed with thousands of springs and seeps that range from near trickles to raging torrents. The hill country of so…

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I enjoy reading as well as exploring the wonders of nature. I have a very large library, most are books on nature, history or geology. Among these are several old publications that are filled with interesting accounts that have often been forgotten by the passage of time. I often use these b…

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My columns on the milk snake and hoop snake have generated so much interest that I have been flooded with letters and phone calls from readers all over southern Indiana. They all wanted me to learn about the stories or personal encounters they have had with snakes.

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“O give me a home, where the buffalo roam” is an old western song. It related past life on the Great Plains. Well Indiana is not part of the Great Plains, but we once had buffalo, bison to be zoologically correct.

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In the dictionary the word reptile is defined as “any of a large class of air-breathing, scaly vertebrates including snakes, lizards, alligators, turtle, crocodiles and extinct related forms such as dinosaurs.”

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In a past column I featured two of the most unique Indiana State Forests, Greene-Sullivan and Covered Bridge. The latter at only 300 acres is also the smallest Indiana State Forest, but is in reality a State Forest Retreat and is set up more for family recreation. Greene-Sullivan is an area …

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In a past column I told how on a hike in Vanderburgh County exploring wetlands near the Eagle Slough Nature Preserve I had a lasting encounter with what are known as swamp beggar ticks. These plants produce flat divided seeds that are commonly called sticktights and once on your clothing are…

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It is amazing that something that many people find so pretty and are wildly painted as an ornamental tree can in a few years turn into an invasive plant. Such is the case with the callery pear, a native to China and Korea and has become one of our most commonly planted yard and garden shrubs.

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In my last column I had left Colonel John Campbell and his force of nearly 800 mounted troops on the banks of the Mississinewa River on what is now the upper reaches of the Mississinewa Reservoir near the hamlet of Jalapa in Grant County. Campbell had indeed carried out General Harrison’s or…

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After the Battle of Fort Harrison, Indian raids increased all across Indiana. Fort Wayne, at what was to become our state’s second largest city, was the scene of a long siege and a number of settlers killed or wounded. General William Henry Harrison now in command of the Northwestern U.S. Ar…

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I conclude my series of columns on the uncommon native trees of Indiana with several trees you have probably never had the opportunity to see. They are the black hickory, sourwood, overcup oak, yellow brick, paper birch, water locust, yellow buckeye and the yellowwood.

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In my past columns on the uncommon tress of Indiana the trees I featured, while they had a very restricted range in our state, were more or less common in the locations where they are found. There are other native Hoosier trees that not only have a very localized range in Indiana, but usuall…

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One of my favorite trees is the hemlock. It is a pretty evergreen, but it is the location the tree loves to grow in that helps to make the hemlock one of my favorites. Native to 14 Indiana counties it seems to do best in a secluded ravine, rocky hillside, or even in places where it can put d…

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Indiana has three species of native pine trees that have very restricted locations in our state. They are the eastern white pine, jack pine and Virginia pine, which is also sometimes known as scrub pine. Other species of pines have been planted over the years in strip mined and abandoned are…

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In my last column we left Captain Zachary Taylor and a small combined force of troops from the 7th Infantry and settlers who had taken refuge in F ort Harrison surrounded by Indians who had set the fort on fire. Taylor knew if the fire was not put out and a segment of the walls burned down a…

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When General Harrison began his march from Vincennes to what became the Battle of Tippecanoe his army stopped at the present day city of Terre Haute, then stayed long enough to build a fort that would be used as a supply base for his troops. The fort when constructed was christened Fort Harr…

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When Tecumseh returned to Indiana after the Battle of Tippecanoe, he knew that his brother The Prophet had ruined his hopes of an Indian confederation, but was England going to war with the U.S.? Relations between the three nations were already at the breaking point and the war hawk of both …

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In two past columns I featured the bald cypress, which is a tree most often found in the deep southern United States. Its area extends northward into southern Indiana and Illinois. In Indiana it is only native in four southwestern Hoosier counties. This can be a large tree that can live for …

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In a past column I listed the bald cypress as one of the uncommon trees native to Indiana. I wrote so much about where it is found in our state that I ran out of space before I could describe what helps make this tree so interesting. One reason is it can thrive in a very wet habitat and anot…

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Indiana is home to a variety of tree species. While some range all across our state, a number of others have a rather limited range and only exist in a few sites, often in areas that are hostile to most other trees. I will be talking about several of these more or less uncommon trees in a se…

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