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Historical Society hopes to purchase log cabin

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners gave its support for an $80,000 request for the Historical Society of Harrison County to help purchase the William Henry Harrison log cabin in downtown Corydon.
The county council will hear the request Monday night.
The entire cost of the purchase of the structure, located at 419 N. Capitol Ave. and known as the Branham Tavern, will be $210,000. It most recently housed Ozzie’s LTD and is currently owned by Linda Jackson, who cut $10,000 off the price for the historical society.
‘We are very concerned about what may happen to this historic structure since it is currently zoned commercial and firmly believe it should be interpreted for historical purposes,’ Karen Schwartz, historical society president, said. ‘The Historical Society of Harrison County believes this cabin represents a vital, but fragile, link in preserving Harrison County’s rich history. This cabin has stood firm since the early territorial days (early 1800s), watched closely through Corydon’s territorial and state capitol period, silently observed the attack by Morgan’s raiders … It is vitally important that this historic log cabin be open to the public with interpretive services.’
Harrison, who was elected as the ninth president of the United States in 1840, owned four tracts of property in Harrison County in Corydon and Lanesville, as well as in Spencer and Boone townships. Not only is the county named after Harrison, but he also gave Corydon its name from the name of a shepherd boy in Harrison’s favorite hymn ‘The Pastoral Elegy.’
Missi Bush-Sawtelle, vice president of the historical society, said what is most amazing about the structure is the great shape it is in. It was restored by the Taglarino family in the late 1980s.
‘They really did it right; they didn’t take any shortcuts,’ Bush-Sawtelle said.
The women suggested the cabin could serve as a bicentennial headquarters next year and an interpretive center, run by the Harrison County Public Library, long after 2016, ‘filling a distinctive niche for sharing pioneer and territorial history by interpreting the legacies of such local pioneer luminaries as William Henry Harrison, Squire Boone, John Shields, Thomas Posey, John Tipton, Spier Spencer, Harvey Heth, Jonathan Jennings and other notables.’
The cabin could become part of a three-stop historical corridor with the future Harrison County Museum and the Posey House.
Commissioner Jim Klinstiver said he supported the project but yielded to Commissioner Kenny Saulman, since the cabin is in his district.
Saulman made the motion for the full $80,000 needed to complete funding, while acknowledging the council may trim it down.
Bush-Sawtelle and Schwartz thanked the commissioners and said they plan to ask the town of Corydon for funding also, if needed.
In other business, the commissioners gave support to move forward with the Indian Creek Trail phase 3 plan, which would place the old Valley View Road bridge over Indian Creek between the end of the current trail at Hayswood Nature Reserve and downtown Corydon. Phase three will connect the two trails (Hayswood Nature Reserve and the YMCA of Harrison County) to create the largest greenspace system in the county.
Instead of waiting on state funding, the county plans to use $1.2 million out of its cumulative bridge fund combined with $1.1 million from the Harrison County Community Foundation (The Foundation board Monday night agreed to tentatively approve $1,081,152, pending a formal application and the county agreeing to fund the bridge portion of the project.)
The hope, engineer Kevin Russel said, is to have the project completed in 2016.
The plan is for the trail to go under the west bridge, and S.R. 62, and head south to meet the Hayswood portion of the trail.
The county is required to rehabilitate the old bridge, so it makes financial sense, according to the commissioners, to move it to a place where it will get use and visibility.
‘It would give us two historic iron bridges on a really premiere trail,’ Rand Heazlitt, parks director, said.
Heazlitt and Russel will lead the project.
The council will hear the request at its next meeting.
The board also approved $92,000-plus for engineering work related to a boat ramp at the county-owned property at Morvin’s Landing near Mauckport. The goal is to apply and secure a grant from the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife for a 70-30 split on funding with the county on the hook for 30 percent. Some of the engineering costs associated with the $92,000 will be able to go toward the 30 percent, Heazlitt said.
‘They are very, very interested,’ Heazlitt said of Fish and Wildlife representatives. ‘It’s a high priority for them. There’s currently no county access on the 45-mile (Ohio) river frontage in Harrison County.’
The estimated total cost of the project is $1.25 million, he said.
‘It’s a simple boat ramp with ample parking,’ Heazlitt said. ‘We’re not talking anything fancy.’
The sought-after grant works on a two-year cycle, so, if it is granted, the ramp would be built in 2018.
‘Then they’d lease it from us for 20 years,’ Heazlitt said of the Fish and Wildlife division.
Commissioner George Ethridge said it’s not a bad deal at all if they’ll pay 70 percent of it and then lease it for 20 years.
The next regular meeting of the board of commissioners will be Monday night, Aug. 17, at 7 at the Government Center in south Corydon.