Column: A history of Turkey Run State Park

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The 2,382 acres of Turkey Run State Park in Marshall encompass some of Indiana’s most unusual geology. The park also features memorials for the man and woman most responsible for its existence.

For 2 million years, glacial meltwaters carved canyons, gorges and other geologic features in a sandstone area in Parke County locals named “Turkey Run.” As a teenager, Juliet Straus frequented the heavily wooded area. In 1915, after becoming famous as a columnist for Ladies Home Journal, she urged Indiana’s governor to preserve Turkey Run in its natural state. At the same time, Richard Lieber, a German immigrant, sought to establish a state park system to preserve Indiana’s natural resources. The efforts of Lieber, Straus and others led to the creation of Indiana’s state park system in 1916, its centennial year. Using private funds, Turkey Run was purchased and given to Indiana the same year. In 1918, Lieber purchased a cabin built from tulip poplar logs in 1848 and moved it to the park, where it remains. Straus died the same year and her memorial, featuring an elegant statue by Hoosier sculptor Myra Reynolds Richard, was dedicated in 1922.

Today, the park includes 30 miles of trails, ranging from easy to rugged, some of which follow streambeds.  One trail leads to Sunset Point and spectacular views. Another leads over a suspension bridge to Rocky Hollow Falls Canyon Nature Preserve. An easy trail leads to an 1871 log church, moved to the park in 1923, that provides nondenominational Sunday services. A memorial near the church contains Lieber’s ashes and those of his wife.

Overnight guests at Turkey Run State Park stay in the 61 rooms in the inn or in rental cabins or campsites, all reservable in advance. Long considered Indiana’s favorite park, Turkey Run attracts 1 million visitors each year. You should be among them.


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