Wheeling, New Wheeling, and the CI&E Railroad

Indiana University says that nearly two-thirds of the 23 million acres that make up Indiana is farmland1. As much as we’re known for corn and soybeans, that wasn’t always the case: pioneers clear cut enormous swaths of forest down in the years after they arrived here, which means tree lines that seem random to us in 2023 are usually anything but! One stretch, visible from Old US-35 in northern Delaware County, hides an old alignment of the Chicago, Indiana & Eastern Railway. New rail during the gas boom meant big money for any town on its path, and the line’s completion convinced an entire community to try and reorganize itself nearly a mile west of where it stood.

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The sad fate of Delaware County’s Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church

I have a soft spot in my heart for old, country sanctuaries. I’m sure I’ve driven by hundreds of them over the years! Although many are incompatible with the needs of huge, modern megachurches, their continued existence is testament to dwindling congregations that push against the current, passionately committed to the glorification of a higher power. I’ve always morbidly wondered what happens to the actual buildings once their membership falls off, but I’m sorry to say that I found the answer at Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church in eastern Delaware County.

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INDOT right-of-way markers are here, there, and everywhere

Looking for a fun game to play next time you’re bored in the car? I sure was when I headed to South Carolina a couple months ago before I knew how common state right-of-way markers are. In Indiana, the monuments normally demarcate the boundaries of roads owned and operated by the department of transportation, and they’re everywhere. Sometimes, they pop up in unexpected places.

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Muncie’s Mansfield Park from land, air, and sea

If you’re like me, you’re interested in the history of the day-to-day places you go to, walk around, or drive past. A place that’s long piqued my interest is Mansfield Park, one of Muncie’s most unique recreational areas. I’d been going there to catch bluegill for years before I decided to look into its story. Later, I decided to explore the place even more through the use of a couple of drones.

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The Dunkirk & Moore Pike: There’s gold in that thar…gravel?

D.B. Moore was a Delaware County farmer and an early advocate for free public roads. A resident of rural Niles Township, Moore was deeply suspicious of big-city big-wigs and their big-time motives! That’s part of what makes his story -and the story of the Dunkirk & Moore Pike1– interesting. That, and gold. Gold makes everything more intriguing.

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Meijer’s whimsical pineapple of discovery

When Grand Rapids-based Meijer decided to expand the reach of its Michigan hypermarkets to a trio of new states in the early 1990s, officials decided that a unique aesthetic was necessary to introduce their massive stores to a new batch of customers. There’s little that can be done to make a 200,000-square-foot building unique, but Meijer did just that, in large part through the use of a pineapple.

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Welcome to Gates Corner, Indiana. Population: ~3 (including you!)

Indiana is home to hundreds, if not thousands of tiny, forgotten communities. Take Delaware County’s Gates Corner, for instance: it sits at the crux of County Roads 600-South and 700-East in Perry Township. Today, it consists of an abandoned store and an occupied house. That’s it! I drove through the hamlet four or five times before I became aware that it was somewhere instead of nowhere.

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Crystal Pool: A dammed great swimming hole near Windsor, Indiana

There are probably few things that pique a kid’s interest more strongly than going swimming. It’s fun because swimming allows them to explore a new environment and gain confidence in their abilities. It helps kids stay active, build coordination, and develop social skills. Plus -let’s be honest here- it’s a great way to cool off on a hot day! A couple of generations ago, Crystal Pool -about twelve miles southeast of the heart of Muncie- was one of the best places to take a dip and do a lot more, besides.

Two artesian wells just outside of Delaware County near Matthews

In the 1940s and 50s, longtime Muncie newspaper columnist Dick Greene and his wife Mildred identified eight flowing wells within Delaware County, Indiana, and made trips to write about each of them1. I was seventy years late to the game but decided to try and follow their path. So far, I’ve found eleven flowing wells, but two more flowing wells exist just out of bounds near Matthews in Grant County.

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