Resources? (Cave River Valley II)

The main attraction of the Cave River Valley Natural Area are not so much its signs of abondonment, but rather its caves and rock formations.

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The area was acquired at some point by the Nature Conservancy, and then possession was transferred to the Department of Natural Resources of Indiana, who had created a site management plan that is an interesting document in many respects.

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It explains in detail what the DNR planned to do with the area, and what the costs would be. The plan did not move forward much, be it because of budget problems, be it because of myotis sodalis, the endangered Indiana Bat.

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The bat uses the Endless Cave above and below as a hibernaculum (I need one, too!). Plans to take busloads of spelunkers through the extensive caves in the area would possibly run afoul of the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act from 1988.

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So the Department of Natural Resources put up a handful of signs and dumped truckloads of gravel on a pathway that was supposed to give access to campsites for up to 120 people. Hmmm.

Then, they abandoned the site, once again.

It is, however, as I hope the pictures are hinting, of some beauty.

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Abandonment (Cave River Valley I)

The hilly and not so fertile landscape of southern Indiana offered the early settlers enough room to get by, after the natives had been – what is the euphemism these days – deported?

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With a bit of luck you could find yourself a stream in a little valley,

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plant some corn, get a mill running, raise kettle, build a small house, and live your life.

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One can find traces of old settlements along almost any small creek, and the common pattern is that they have been abandoned at some point.

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One cause was the Great Depression that forced many people to move into the cities to find work. But whatever the cause, the fact that there are so many abandoned places paints a picture quite different from the often claimed steady progress, and thus of different times to come.

New inhabitants are ready to move in any day.

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A good example for all this is the Cave River Valley Natural Area, close to Spring Mills State Park, where today’s pictures are from. It’s story will continue next week.