In the midst of the Great Depression, with nearly 25 percent of America’s workforce unemployed, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal provided federal funding for building projects across the country to create jobs. Indiana state parks reaped the benefits, as workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) used local timber and rock to create picturesque picnic shelters, amphitheaters, bridges, and other structures.
The parks offer great opportunities for exploration by history and nature buffs alike. McCormick’s Creek -- Indiana’s oldest state park -- boasts a noteworthy collection of CCC landmarks, along with natural features including McCormick’s Creek Falls and a truly awe-inspiring limestone canyon along the White River.
The park was established in 1916 in Owen County on land previously hunted by Miami Indians and became a popular recreation spot in the ‘20s and early ‘30s with the addition of a swimming pool and camping facilities. Between 1933 and 1935, CCC workers built roads, shelters, a 90-foot-tall fire tower, a recreation hall and a gatehouse –- all structures that remain in use today. In 1936, the Works Progress Administration (WPA), another New Deal job program, created a rustic amphitheater for concerts and other entertainment.
More than ten miles of hiking trails wind through diverse landscapes, including canyons, forests, prairies, sinkholes, caves, a nature preserve, and towering stands of Midwestern hardwoods. Your hike might take you across a stone arch bridge over McCormick’s Creek, created by the CCC using salvaged and donated limestone from area quarries.
You can see McCormicks Creek on foot or on horseback or via canoe or kayak. Not a camper? Book a room at the park’s Canyon Inn, a sanitarium turned hotel.
To plan a visit to McCormick’s Creek, visit http://www.mccormickscreekstatepark.com/index.htm.
For an insider’s look at McCormick’s Creek and the park’s New Deal legacy, join Indiana Landmarks on August 24 for a Landmark Experience – a day-long exploration of Indiana’s state park history, with lectures, lunch, and a walking tour of CCC sites at McCormick’s Creek.
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Each week Indiana Landmarks uses insider knowledge to highlight historic places worth a visit, from the quirky to the sublime: small towns, neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, parks, cemeteries, scenic drives, museums -- you get the idea. Learn more about Indiana Landmarks at www.indianalandmarks.org.