County boat ramp at Morvin’s Landing to open this year
The dream of a former Harrison County commissioner came true Saturday morning when a ground-breaking ceremony took place at Morvin’s Landing, east of Mauckport, for a new boat ramp as part of the Harrison County Parks Dept.
The boat ramp will be ready for launch this fall.
‘Many of us wondered if this day would ever come six years ago,’ Larry Shickles, Harrison County Parks board president, said. ‘We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs and valleys, meetings and challenges.’
He said a lot of people made the project possible, including the Bicentennial Committee and county government.
‘Lots of people spent many, many hours as we moved forward and made plans for this,’ Shickles said.
But, Shickles said, one individual went above and beyond for the boat ramp.
‘We want to take the day to recognize Jim Klinstiver and his commitment to not only this project, but to the people of Harrison County,’ he said. ‘His efforts are shown in many things that we don’t see his name on. But if you look behind those things, you’ll see his efforts.’
Klinstiver died May 20.
Shickles called Klinstiver a visionary and an educator.
Klinstiver was passionate about the boat-ramp project, providing access to the Ohio River for residents and visitors.
‘Not just from a recreational, boating view,’ Shickles said. ‘But from a security, safety view and an economic view. He told me time and time again … ‘two things that will attract man is fire and water. If you build something down there, they will come.’ The parks department was blessed by Jim’s service.’
Shickles said the area of Morvin’s Landing is near and dear to him, since he grew up not far away and spent a lot of time as a child playing by the river.
But, more importantly, he said, the area is full of history.
Shickles detailed the rich history which includes historic Indian burial grounds with extensive amounts of artifacts.
‘Some of those have been robbed over the years, but at least we’ll be able to preserve them for the future from this point forward,’ he said.
The most significant aspect of history at the site involved the old town of Morvin, which was home to the Bell family. The Bell’s home was mentioned in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin.’
‘The Bell family was very significant in the underground railroad,’ Shickles said.
A Supreme Court case based on the capture of a fugitive slave in the area also caught the attention of the country at the time.
Morvin’s Landing also was the spot where Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan crossed the Ohio River on his way north, eventually encountering resistance at the Battle of Corydon (a skirmish also took place on or near the river).
Morgan ordered the Alice Dean steamboat, which he hijacked and used to cross the river, to be burned and scuttled. The remains of the boat now sit at the bottom of the river.
‘It now belongs to the department of Navy and is listed as the largest historic artifact of the Civil War now surviving,’ Shickles said.
Morvin’s Landing was the site of the last ferry boat operating on the Ohio River until the Matthew E. Welsh bridge was built in 1974.
The tornado of 1974 also used the area as a crossing from Kentucky to Indiana, striking the first house up near S.R. 11 above Morvin’s Landing. The remains of the home are still visible. The tornado moved north through Harrison County.
Prehistoric bones also have been dug up from the site and are housed at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.
Shickles said the parks department plans to have an opening ceremony for the first boat launch in the fall.