A Treasure in the Middle of Indiana

My interest in the Canals of Indiana and Ohio have led me to Delphi, IN. This is the “home” of the Erie-Wabash Canal. It is the location of the Canal Park which is right on the canal. It is the only navigable part of the canal that is left.

The park features an interactive museum detailing the history of building and maintaining the canal from 1828 to the 1870’s. Also it describes life in the United States during this period. There are lots of exhibits about living along the canal, what was transported, the different kinds of boats, and the people who worked on them. The museum has a wealth of information, displays, and hands-on activities that kids (and some adults .. ahem) love.

Along with the museum there is a pioneer village that preserves several buildings that would be in a canal town. Alas, they are only open on weekends so I did not get inside, but peeking in the windows proved they are furnished to perfection. Also on weekends they have a real canal boat that you can take rides in.

My education was improved, especially pertaining to Fort Wayne, which is my home base. I’ve lived there for 35 years and I knew it ran through Fort Wayne, but I never knew that the groundbreaking for the Canal was there. And  the opening of it was also there, at the Settlers House, a Summit City landmark.

There are several walking trails along the canal and through Delphi which point out historical sites. They all interconnect to form a trail system of 10 miles. I went to Sunset Point where the Wabash River intersects with Deer Creek. The canal went over the creek here to bypass the river.

I find the lives of the people living on the canal and working on it to be fascinating. Like the fact that sometimes men would flag down a passing boat at suppertime, jump on, eat the meal, and then get off so they wouldn’t have to pay a full fare.  I have developed a “research itch” about canal life. And that can only mean there is  possibly will be  might be a book in the future.

One of the best things about the park is that they have a camping area. With free wifi – bonus! The camp hosts were wonderful. Told me all about the place, and even came over to tell me there would be someone coming in at 11 pm, so that I wouldn’t be worried since I was the only one there at the time.

So if you’re thinking that Indiana doesn’t have much, (besides corn  har har) think again. And go exploring!

 

 

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Fun with Family

Last week I attended a family reunion for my paternal grandmother’s descendants. We do this every two years in a different location. This year we all met in Dayton, OH which was where Grandma Emma lived and raised her family. She had four boys  All the original sons have passed, so my generation of cousins and their families are the group.

We started the reunion with a dinner. We love to eat! The next day we took a bus tour of Dayton, seeing the houses, churches, and schools that we all heard so many stories about.

Then we journeyed to Ripley, OH, on the Ohio River, which our great-great-great? grandfather helped build. We toured the Rankin House where his family lived after the Civil War. But BEFORE the Civil War, John Rankin lived there. He was a minister, but the reason it’s a historical landmark is that he ran his house as a major station on the Underground Rail Road. Among other things, he left a lamp burning in the living room window for years. It was to let slaves trying to get to freedom know that the house up on the hill was a safe place.  This tour was fascinating. Howard, the guide, was a talented storyteller and he really made the history come to life.

  

After that we gathered for another dinner. The last day we spent at various venues. My daughters family and I played at an entertainment center that had games like Chuckie Cheese, as well as go-karts, bowling, mini golf, virtual reality games (my grandson spent a half hour on Fortnite), and my favorite – Skeeball! Other people went to a brewery, and an Air Force Museum. That night we attended a Dayton Dragons baseball game. They’re a minor league feeder team for the Cincinnati Reds. They lost, but we sure had a great time.

The final morning we all met for breakfast. In between all these events, we talked and talked and talked and talked……

After the reunion, I decided to return to one of my favorite places, Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana.

I camped for a few days and relaxed. eing an introvert, the past two weeks have been a bit over stimulating.

*the first one was given up for adoption (long story, maybe a later post) and he found us later on.

Working and Fellowship

This past week I spent five days helping a group of volunteers repair houses in the Birmingham, AL area. The group I went with is from Fellowship Missionary Church in Fort Wayne. The organization they work with in Alabama is Next Step Storm. This organization is faith-based  and the family that runs it is originally from the Fort Wayne area and are associated with Fellowship.

Next Step works with people whose houses have been damaged by natural disasters, like tornados or hurricanes, and those whose “storms” come from life situations like poverty. The storm in the name is an acronym – Severe Tragedy Outreach Relief Ministry. Monte and Kim Brenneman run it along with their children. They are wonderful people, full of generosity and kindness and love.

My week was spent at the houses of two different clients. We cleared the yards, repaired some of the walls, pulled down vines and bushes, scraped the houses, and then painted them. Hard work, but oh so good for the soul.

            

I found out that I could (more or less) keep up with the men who did most of the job. I also spent some time talking to the clients, listening to their stories, and sharing some of my own.

Here’s a painter crew: Stephanie, Me, client Deborah, and Janet.

Volunteers with Next Step Storm come from all over the country, mostly groups from a different church each week. Our small band included all ages from high school to retirement. We stayed in a “camp” that is a large property that includes a building containing a lounge and eating area, rooms full of bunk beds, and bathrooms with showers. There is a small kitchen where volunteers cook our meals and prepare the food for our sack lunches. I really thought I might lose a few pounds over the week, but those ladies can cook! The site also has several buildings for storage and a fleet of trucks and trailers.

        

There are several traditions that are observed at camp; one is signing your bed.

Along with the work there is time for fun. We went out as a group for dinner, one night was movie night, and one evening we had guests: neighbors and  clients past and present. One of the ladies, Miss Effy, was a gospel singer and played the organ for a sing-along.

The lounge has lots of games for entertainment. The highschoolers kept a continuous Monopoly game going all week.

The Brennemans welcome all volunteers, including youth groups. If you belong to a group who might be interested in volunteering for a worthwhile cause, I strongly suggest you check Next Step Storm’s website. They would be happy to include you.