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.
Galena, or lead, has a number of industrial uses, but has also received a lot of bad press due to what it can do to one’s health, especially children.
Over the years I have received several reports of either lost lead mines or of rather large deposits of galena. When it came time to show me these layers of lead, no one was able to take me to such a location. I even offered to pay a $100 reward to anyone that could show me a lead deposit. Needless to say I still have the $100. This offer still goes.
One of the stories was of a lead mine somewhere along or near the Anderson River in southern Indiana. It was said in the past Native Americans used this area to mine lead for the smelting of galena into rifle balls. The site was in an area known as the Wilderness and was somewhere in Perry County. If anyone has ever heard of this story, please let me know.
To add some credence to the Indian lead mine, an unusual rock formation in northern Martin County, now a part of the Crane area, and known as the Kittle Rock was utilized to smelt the lead. The rock was said to be shaped like a real kittle.
Several people told me about this rock and stated that it was indeed a site where lead was turned into rifle balls. Before I had a chance to see Kittle Rock it was reported that it had been destroyed in the construction of a new road. I also would like to know more about the Kittle Rock of Martin County.
Reports were also received of native lead deposits along or near the east fork of the White River in north Martin and Lawrence counties. In fact, one man was going to show me a location along the river where a large vein of galena was exposed to view. Sad to say when the time came to take me to the area he was sick, later had to go to Florida, and finally told me he could not remember where it was.
Galena has been found in Indiana, but it seems only in small chunks that occur in glacial deposits. I have found small pieces of lead, and also some in Hoosier geodes, but none larger than my thumbnail.
Lead deposits do occur in northwestern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Perhaps the Native Americans did mine galena in this region and bring or trade it to the Indians that lived in Indiana.
Also it is possible some large chunks of lead were found and then turned into lead balls. It was reported that in the 1800s a mass of lead that weighed 10 pounds was found in De Kalb County in northern Indiana. It was in glacial drift and was probably brought into our state by one of the masses of ice that once covered much of what was to become Hoosierland.
If you can show me a large vein of galena in Indiana I will still give you $100. Also if you have any stories of lost lead mines I would enjoy hearing from you. Harold Allison, 6350 S. 100 E., Washington, IN 47501. Phone number: 812-644-7385.