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Hanging Out at Hanging Rock

Went to a business meeting in Huntington for What'sUp 24/7 , a community development platform I am working with. Drove to Alexandria and dropped my truck off this morning and we drove up on I-69. Instead of an awful drive back on the interstate, I had earlier convinced my friends and colleagues John and Jim to drive to Lagro, Indiana to visit Hanging Rock Natural National Landmark.

We drove across US24 and then south on Gene Stratton Porter Road for a short stretch and then west onto Blue Star Highway and into Lagro. We wandered around capturing pictures of Lagro Community Church, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, and a couple of old but restored houses. After I had taken pictures of St. Patrick’s, we were approached by a woman out walking who wanted to know about us. Were we visitors? Yes. Had we ever been to Lagro before? John and Jim No, Me yes. She then pointed to another church down the street and wanted to know if we wanted to see it. So we visited the Lagro UMC. She had written a successful grant to Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to refurbish the stained glass windows on every exterior wall. They were well done and she was very proud as she should be. Additionally, the church had large rolling doors (think roll-top desk) to separate two meeting rooms from the sanctuary. Very unusual. She invited us to come back again and she would give us the full tour.

(Top row: Lagro Community Church, St. Patrick's Catholic Church; Second row: St. Patrick's historical marker; Third row: St. Patrick's side view, Lagro United Methodist Church (sorry for the blur); Bottom row; Three refurbished stain glass windows from the Methodist church.)

We went over one block to Washington Street and went searching for the Kerr Lock from the old Wabash & Erie Canal. There were three connected buildings seeking occupants - Masonic Lodge, IORM Lodge, and the active American Legion Hall. We also stopped for a picture of the 950 Speakeasy Bistro restaurant before heading to the nature preserve. The Wabash River was running high and fast following the recent spring rains.

(Kerr Lock from the Wabash & Erie Canal, Tuscan Masonic Lodge, Improved Order of Red Men Lodge)

Just 1.5 miles farther on SR524 and then onto Hanging Rock Road, crossing the Salamonie River, we pulled into the Hanging Rock National Natural Landmark. One of ACRES Land Trust’s smaller preserves at only 5 acres, “Hanging Rock contains a portion of a Silurian coral reef formed when Indiana and much of the Midwest was covered by a warm, shallow sea. When the Wabash River undercut the rock, the top of the rock was left overhanging its base, 65 feet above the Wabash Valley — thus the preserve’s name. Native Americans used Hanging Rock as both an overlook and a landmark.” We first walked to the water’s edge to see the Wabash River upstream and downstream. Then Jim and I began the ascent to the top of Hanging Rock. When we neared the top, I was only one to scale the rocks and climb atop the promontory. It was quite a view and I took pictures both directions.

(From atop Hanging Rock, upstream Wabash River; downstream Wabash River; two more pictures of the rock facing under bluff)

After carefully climbing down, I followed another path along the river’s edge and tried to get a picture of the peak from the ground, but too much greenery was blocking the view. So I need to come back in the winter time when the trees are bare. On ahead I began to see the rock face under the bluff. There was an inscribed metal plate designating the site as a National Natural Landmark in 1986. Took some pictures and then headed back to the car.

We returned to SR524 and headed south, passing the Salamonie State Forest and Reservoir. While the highway ended, we continued south on America Road. We crossed SR124 and then through America, although you’d never know it. Jogged on SR218 west one mile to LaFontaine and then south again on SR15. We drove towards Marion but didn’t want to drive through town so we turned west, went through Jalapa and then south to SR18. John turned east which took us back towards town. We passed the CIE ethanol plant and then hopped on another county road which took us south to US35/SR 22 beyond Marion. We got over to SR 9 and returned to John’s house. Nice afternoon to wander and visit the natural landmark.

As you can imagine, I avoided highways on my drive home and enjoyed some more wandering.

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