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Every Place Has Story - Looking for Tidewater

During the many years that I wandered Indiana with Beth or solo, I always tried to be mindful of where I was traveling and what I was driving by or driving to. While I have been through every 'dot' on Indiana's map, there is still so much to see and to learn. Recently I went looking for Tidewater.

Through my consulting work I get to travel around Indiana and I make it a point to plan ahead and figure out what I can see on the way there or back. Recently, I was invited to be the keynote speaker at a joint annual meeting of the Clay County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Purdue Extension Service of Clay County. The meeting was held at the Clay County 4-H Fairgrounds south of Brazil.

During the planning phase, I met with the two groups to learn what they needed their stakeholders to hear. Like many organizations, they are struggling to recruit new board members, thinking differently for differeent audiences, and creating excitement among board members. My presentation was titled Building Sustainability in the Boardroom. While the meeting wasn't until the evening, I met with the organizations earlier in the day and talked with one to discuss the possibility of helping its board with strategic planning.

On the day of the event, I drove to Greencastle first for a consulting client appointment. Then I drove cross-country through Limedale, Manhattan, Reelsville, Harmony, and Knightsville before arriving in Brazil. Met at the Fairgrounds then went to lunch with Dale Walker and Jennifer Creager of Soil & Water at the Highway 40 Grill. We enjoyed breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches, a Hoosier staple. To many US40 is just another local road or highway. As a road buff, I am always intrgiued whenever I travel the Old National Road.

After a little afternoon computer work, I left the fairgrounds and headed to southern Clay County to find Tidewater, a site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. No one I talked to had any idea what I was talking about! It was a beautiful afternoon in late March with clear blue skies and mild temperatures. Farmers were active in the field with spring tillage, preparing the soil for planting. Others were applying anhydrous ammonia to add nitrogen to the soil that producing corn requires.

I drove south and east through Center Point and stopped for a few pictures in this small town. Small towns sometimes have towering church steeples, school buildings, maybe a bank or utility office, a grain elevator, or a water tower. Center Point's water tower stands on the edge of town like a sentinel keeping watch.

The town's population peaked in 1900 with 600 residents but has shrunk to ~200 in 2020. This is a huge challenge for rural America. There were lots of typical houses, which made one in the center of town stand out from the rest. Across the street was the Masonic Lodge, next to the US Post Office. The Center Point Lodge 597 F&AM is still active in its community.

A few more miles south, I found the Tidewater Pumping Station Building. It is located at the southwestern corner of the junction of 900S and 300E, north of Coal City, Harrison Township, Clay County, Indiana. It is a former station along the SOHIO oil pipeline from south Illinois to Cleveland. Now in private hands, it is being repurposed as a residence and has a long way to go. Here's one of the pictures I took.

On the National Register of Historic Places, this site is one of 13 listings in Clay County. Here is its description on Wikipedia. Tide Water Pumping Station, also known as Benton Station and SOHIO Pumping Station, is a historic pumping station complex and national historic district located in Harrison Township, Clay County, Indiana. The complex includes the 1+1⁄2-story, brick gale roofed pump house (1915); frame warehouse; a metal shed; two Queen Anne style dwellings; a metal garage; a concrete sluice and bridges; and the remains of a tennis court, dam and pond, and buried pipes. It is one of 14 pumping stations built along a 546.16 mile oil pipeline built between Crawford County, Illinois and Rixford, Pennsylvania. The station closed about 1957. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.


Took a few pictures and drove northwest on SR 157 to Clay City passing through Barrick Corner. Then back north to the Fairgrounds for the meeting. The evening went well and the message was well-received. It is always a pleasure combining ReThink Consulting with Life Off The Highway.

I am constantly looking for bridges, natural sites, roads, barns, lodges, churches, main street buildings, elevators, and other things that pique my interest. I especially enjoy traveling scenic byways, historic roads, and heritage trails. I don't believe that one type is more important or interesting than another. Every place has a story, but some are easier to find than others. For the others, use your imagination! The key is to go wander, wherever and whenever. Where are you wandering?

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