‘Jewel’ of Indian Creek Trail open
Officials neglected to bring a ribbon to Friday’s ribbon-cutting for the Rothrock Mill Bridge portion of the Indian Creek Trail Project, but no one seemed to mind. The stretch ‘ which reaches more than a mile east from the automobile ‘turnaround’ at the lower level of Hayswood Nature Reserve, along Big Indian Creek and over the restored Rothrock Mill Bridge, then about a quarter-mile toward downtown Corydon ‘ is completely paved and ready for use.
In addition to the Indian Creek Trail Committee, representatives from Harrison County government, the Harrison County Tourism Commission, Harrison County Community Foundation, the Harrison County Parks Department, Lucas Oil and trail designers were on hand. After a few words by Jim Epperson of the Harrison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, people were given the opportunity to walk the trail then partake of a light lunch.
The asphalt trail is just a few yards away from Big Indian Creek. When walkers approach the crown jewel of this section of the trail ‘ the Rothrock Mill Bridge ‘ they’ll find a landscaped ramp that gently rises to the level of the bridge, which now has wood decking and side rails. There is a steel pipe that sits in the middle of the trail to keep motorized vehicles off the bridge; however, the pipe could be lowered if needed.
‘We started in about 1995, and our goal was to go from Hayswood park to the (Old Capital Golf Course). So, the first trail section we put in was the 960-foot Logan’s Trail, which went from the slab bridge (on Mulberry Street) to the iron bridge at Rice Island,’ Carl Snyder of the trail committee said. ‘The second trail was .6-mile Doolittle Trail from the West Bridge to the North Bridge, then we put in the YMCA trail that came down and met with the Doolittle Trail.
‘We’re on the way to the golf club, if we ever get there … That’s what we aim for is to hook all these trails together so you can walk from the YMCA all the way to right here on a trail and you’ll be able to walk from the golf club down here also,’ he said.
One committee member noted that Snyder, Tony Short and Bill Gerdon had been with the committee for a number of years and all three had said they hoped they’d be around long enough to walk the trail. Then it became a joke that they’d never see the trail open. But on Friday, all three were in attendance.
The Rothrock Mill Bridge was constructed about 1910. Its distinctive feature is the long, low-arched top. Long steel rods, tightened diagonally, give the bridge its tension and strength. Over the steel-floor frame, a wooden floor was bolted down. Then, over the floor, ran two thick oak tracks, running lengthwise of the bridge, first carrying wood and steel-rimmed wagon wheels then rubber automobile tires.
‘My grandfather, George Carl Doolittle, later Harrison County surveyor, also worked on the (bridge) project, handling the surveying and mathematical calculations. He and my father, Bill Doolittle Sr., were very proud of that particular bridge, and our family often took Sunday drives across the bridge and then up the hill into Crawford County,’ Bill Doolittle, also of the trail committee, said. ‘Rothrock’s Mill is gone and most of the dam, too, but the bridge lives on in a new life, now spanning Indian Creek in Corydon, a beautiful jewel of the new Indian Creek Trail.’
Epperson said the entire trail project took forward-thinking people to get it done.
‘There are people who are talking about trails from Leavenworth to Corydon,’ he said. ‘Those are long-term projects, but it takes that kind of thinking ahead to start to have an idea on how these all can connect. Very neat things for the future, but it’s going to take a lot more time and a lot more work. Thanks to all of these folks who have been part of it.’
The nonprofit ICTC was organized in 1998 to establish a 20,000-foot network of trails for walkers, runners and cyclists alongside the two creeks in and around Corydon. The committee now works in conjunction with the Harrison County Parks Department and the Harrison County Convention & Visitors Bureau.