Journey Indiana


Episode 401

Coming to you from the Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site in New's a gold rush in Brown County; see baseball the way it used to be played; travel to Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville; and take a trip to Rose Island - a 100-year-old, abandoned amusement park in Southern Indiana.

AIRED: July 13, 2021 | 0:26:46

>> Production support for "Journey Indiana" is provided by

Columbus Visitors Center.

Celebrating, everywhere art and unexpected architecture in

Columbus, Indiana.

Tickets for guided tours and trip planning information at

And by WTIU members. Thank you.

>> ASHLEY: Coming up, it's a gold rush in Brown County.

>> BRANDON: See baseball the way it used to be played.

>> ASHLEY: Travel to Falls of the Ohio State Park in


>> BRANDON: And take a trip to Rose Island.

That's all on this episode of --

>> TOGETHER: "Journey Indiana."

>> BRANDON: Welcome to "Journey Indiana."

I'm Brandon Wentz.

>> ASHLEY: And I'm Ashley Chilla.

And as you can see, Brandon and I are back together for the

first time in a long time for the first episode of season four.

>> BRANDON: That's right.

And we are kicking things off right here at the Culbertson

Mansion in New Albany.

With its handpainted ceilings, carved staircase,

marble fireplaces, and elaborate plaster work,

the Culbertson mansion reflects the affluence

of a man once considered to be the wealthiest in Indiana.

And we'll learn all about it in just a bit.

>> ASHLEY: But first, we're headed north to Brown County

to meet some Hoosiers who are hoping to strike it rich

or at least have fun trying.

Producer Jason Pear has the story.

>> I mean, it goes back over 150 years, I mean, in terms of

the first observations of gold in Indiana.

Gold is something that is not found in Indiana

in the bedrock itself.

It's derived from Canada from Ontario, the area around

Hudson Bay and James Bay.

We know there have been multiple advanced of ice into Indiana,

and actually, the most common areas for gold in Indiana,

so Morgan and Brown Counties, those were actually glaciated

not the most recent glaciation, but prior glaciations.

In those areas, generally the glacial sediment is thinner

and so it kind of has been reworked by water.

And so there's a greater chance of finding gold in those areas,

and that's partly the reason why Brown County and parts of

Morgan County work for gold prospecting.

>> I got into gold prospecting by watching the gold shows.

That's basically what started me into this.

I basically did some research and found out there was

gold in Indiana!

Most of us, we have jobs.

So we're just doing it for fun.

I think it's probably a little bit of bragging rights,

any of that kind of thing that makes the fun.

Here in the Midwest, that's all it's going to be about.

Gatesville is one of the places where it's freely accessible.

All you have to do is go in and talk to the owner in the store,

and she has no issue with letting you go out there and prospect.

And it's gold there.

That's probably one of the first places where gold was

really kind of picked up at on South Creek.

That's why a lot of people go there.

There's lots of people that come that never get in the creek.

People like to camp.

People like to get together.

And especially with the clubs.

The clubs, we kind of make it an event.

The kids, they stay in the water which is great.

I think it's fantastic.

They get them out of the house, and they get them outdoors.

I think that's one of the best things in the world.

>> Nope.

No gold yet.

>> You start at panning.

From there, you use a stream sluice, which is you are letting

the creek flow that material off as opposed to panning.

From there, most people go to a high banker,

which now you are using motorized stuff.

You have a motor which is now using that water.

It's doing the same thing as the creek doing.

You just got a motor now using the water to do it.

And then dredging, of course, is a big vacuum that is sucking up

material from the bottom of the creek to run through

a sluice box.

Everything is in a sluice box from that point on, usually.

For me, I just enjoy it all.

Modern day flood gold, you look for that in the bends

of the creek.

Where the creek makes a hard bend, at the head of that bend

and through the middle of that bend is where

the new gold will be.

And that's the gold that's just washing out.

If you want to look for some of the older stuff,

which may have bigger pieces, you need to actually kind of

look to see where the older trees are.

Because there where the older trees are is probably where the

creek was at one point.

It takes a little bit of looking.

Black sand is iron sand, basically.

About the second heaviest thing before you get gold.

So you want to work your material down to your black sand.

>> Kind of doing some test pans now.

You can see all the black sand in there.

>> No gold in there, but it's a good indicator that we are

definitely in the right spot, right where Mike is at over there.

You're out in the wilderness.

You got your feet in the water and hanging out with good people.

Get away from the phones and TV.

That's the big thing.

>> If you are here in the Midwest, it's strictly for fun.

You are not going to get rich.

Don't think you are going to get rich.

You are not going to get ounces and ounces.

I don't have an ounce of Midwest gold yet, and I have been doing

it since 2014, but it's fun to just go out and look and to camp

and to get to know people.

And if you are lucky, you get a little bit of gold.

>> ASHLEY: You know, Brandon, when I was a kid, I used to have

an obsession with like little gold rocks.

And so when we would go on vacation, I would always want

to do the sifting.

>> BRANDON: Mm hmm.

>> ASHLEY: In the river and try to find little pieces of gold.

Did you ever do anything like that?

>> BRANDON: Yeah, I did it once in California, but it was just

all, you know, fool's gold.

>> ASHLEY: Little did we know we could do it right up the street

from our own house.

You can learn more at

>> BRANDON: Earlier, we caught up with Devin Payne to learn all

about the beautiful Culbertson Mansion.

>> William Culbertson was a local entrepreneur.

He was an investor, and he was well known as the owner of a

dry goods operation here in New Albany.

So the house was built in 1867, and it was built in the style of

French Second Empire.

It's unique on Main Street.

There are no other houses on Main Street that are built in

French Second Empire style.

His second wife Cornelia was what we call a Francophile.

So she loved everything French, and French Second Empire fit her

taste perfectly.

And so Cornelia sat down with the builders of the house and

actually helped design the layout of the house,

as well as the look of the house.

So the house is massive.

It's over 20,000 square feet, including the basement.

The ceiling heights essentially are very tall.

Over 16 feet on the first floor, 18 feet on the second floor.

The ceilings are one of the most fantastic parts of this house,

as well as all of the murals that you see on the walls

when you first come in.

The ceilings were originally put in when the house was built.

So the designs that you see now are restoration work of designs

that would have been here about 1870.

There were a group of artists, including oppression artist,

named Ernst Lindy who came and actually lived here at the house

with some other artists and worked on the murals

and the ceilings.

So the house had a long life after the Culbertsons

left in 1899.

A family named the McDonalds lived here, and as far as we know,

they didn't really change a lot of the murals in the house, but

it became an American Legion Hall in 1945.

And at that point, a lot of upgrades, in their opinion,

were made to the house, and make it more suitable

to be a Legion Hall.

And so they painted everything white from the ceiling

to the floor.

Today the house is an historic site.

It's one of 12 historic sites in the Indiana State Museum.

You can come visit us and see the ways in which the

Culbertsons lived, and just learn about the history of both

the Culbertson family and New Albany.

>> BRANDON: Want to learn more?

Just head over to

One of the first things when we arrived here that we noticed was

how quiet it was inside for such a large space.

And they told us that it was because all the interior walls

are solid brick.

>> ASHLEY: And I hear that there were many children

in this family.

So I'm thinking that those walls probably came in handy

when they were younger for sure.

Well, up next, we are headed to Hobart to meet the hurlers,

behinds, and rovers that make up the Deep River Grinders.

Producer John Timm has the story.

>> Deep River Grinders have been playing vintage baseball

for 30 years more or less.

>> We are recreating the way baseball was played

by the 1858 rules.

We do that here at Deep River County Park

in Merrillville, Indiana.

>> Everybody safe!

>> Deep River Grinders are charter members of the Vintage

Baseball Association.

So there are hundreds of teams across the country portraying

different time periods of baseball.

Some are 1880s, some like ourselves are 1858.

A lot are 1862.

But we play a lot of people in our general region of Indiana,

Illinois, and maybe a little bit lower Michigan.

>> Doc. >> Thatcher.

>> Lefty.

>> The team has been around since 1992.

In 1991, five of us went to the Ohio Village in Columbus, Ohio,

and learned about the game.

And the next year, we had the Ohio Village Muffins come out

and play a match here at Deep River.

And after that, we have been playing, 10, 15, 20, 30

games a year.

>> Foul ball!

Foul ball.

>> We're trying to recreate, the best way we can,

the way the game was played in 1858 by gentlemen.

So in 1858, first off, there are no called balls and strikes.

The only way to strike out is to swing at the ball three times

and miss it.

A foul ball is not a strike.

So you really have to really be bad in order to strike out.

You are out if you catch the ball -- if the ball is caught on

the fly or on one bounce.

[ Applause]

The ball is fair or foul based upon where it first

hits the ground.

So it could hit right in front of the plate, go foul,

and it will still be a fair ball.

There's no overrunning of first base.

Well, actually there is overrunning,

but you can be put out.

You need to be on the base.

>> Striker's dead!

>> Well, we call it a gentleman's game.

Sportsmanship might be a good word as well.

You know, if you are out, you are out.

You don't bother arguing about it.

It's often hard for the lone umpire to see everything.

So the players need to be involved and tell us

what's going on.

And you will hear players when someone makes a good catch and

they will say, well caught, sir.

Or fine strike.

Or whatever it might be.

There is gentlemanly deportment on the field.

>> Good job, sir. Good job.

>> We give each other a hard time.

>> Let's call it modern vintage baseball.

In modern vintage baseball --

>> All the time.

>> Don't scare the cameraman.

>> Oh, the lens cracked.

[ Laughter]

In fact, when you strike out, we set the next practice

you need to -- we call them killians each time you swing.

Because at the next practice, you are supposed to bring a case

of beer if you strikeout, and then we'll give everybody

a hard time.

And if you mess up on the field, it could very easily become

your new nickname.

If you take a stumble --

>> Oh, gracious!

>> Then your nickname the next game might be Stumbles.

We just give each other a hard time.

>> I umpire.

Sometimes other people umpire.

Please don't do that.

>> Just laugh and joke.

>> Although, really, it's getting warm.

>> All that as well.

>> Should I have to fine them 25 cents, it will, as always,

go to my favorite charity for aging umpires and wayward women.

>> And which faction do you represent, sir?

[ Laughter]

>> 25 cents, I'm going to find out.

>> Some of the terminology may not be totally appropriate to

1858, but we refer to our audience as cranks.

The catcher is often known as the behind.

The pitcher is the hurler.

When someone runs to first base, you might hear people yell...

>> Leg it, Dame!

Leg it, Dame!

You will hear huzzah many times or hooray for a well-played play.

Something that's executed well.

You actually don't hear that too often on Grinder Field,

but it does happen.

>> We also have ice cold sarsaparilla, $2 each.

I have been doing it for 30 years because

it's a great deal of fun.

I have made a lot of friends, both as players, with people on

the sidelines.

There's any number of good memories of trips

we have made on the field, probably some memories

I can't really relate.

>> Let's not forget the medicinal qualities of


If you are a conservative, it will cure that.

If you are a liberal, it will cure that.

>> Traveling to different teams and seeing where they play and

those fields.

>> If you are a curmudgeon, it sometimes works and sometimes it

doesn't, because right there.

>> Understanding the history of baseball hands on has been a

great experience, just to understand the game even better.

>> We know each other, and it's great to have that kind of

family and camaraderie over all of these years.

I mean, it's a beautiful day.

You run real turf.

You are close to the game.

You are here with your family.

It's free.

The only thing you really need to buy is a bottle of




The best in the land.

>> ASHLEY: You know, I am not a huge baseball fan, but I will

show up any day for some sarsaparilla soda and a cookie!

And Brandon, I'm thinking that outfit would look

very nice on you.

Maybe this is a role you want to play some day.

>> BRANDON: Yeah.

I mean, it would be a little hot, but I think you could hide

a little air conditioning unit inside of the top hat.

So I'm down for it.

>> ASHLEY: You can learn more at deeprivergrindersbaseball.

>> BRANDON: Up next, we're headed just down the river

to check out the exposed fossil beds at

Falls of the Ohio State Park.

>> Looking west from the Conrail bridge, one will find a stretch

of bared rock along the northern bank of the Ohio River.

This seemingly ordinary expanse of rock is actually one of the

world's largest exposed Devonian period fossil beds, and is the

main attraction to the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Customary to Midwest rivers, the area today is teeming with

waterfowl and the usual plant life.

But 387 million years ago, this region would have been under a

shallow tropical sea, and the surrounding landscape would have

actually been blanketed by a prehistoric coral reef.

The ancient reef sat on a layer of limestone, and as the remains

of the area's marine life settled on the sea's floor,

they would become petrified in the limey stone

and then entombed under sediment deposits where they would remain

for several ice ages until the melt waters from receding

glaciers would carve out the Ohio River Valley,

removing the layers of rock and sediment,

covering the fossilized coral sea floor.

The particular type of limestone found here is called

Jefferson limestone, and it's well known for its fossil

density and preservation of fossils in like positions.

Because of this, it's no surprise that well over 100 different

species of prehistoric marine wildlife have been discovered

fossilized in the rock ledges that make up this

amazing natural wonder.

These unique ancient fossil beds serve not only as a history

lesson of life before man, but also have helped to shape the

modern world as well.

This is because the Falls of the Ohio isn't really a waterfall,

but a series of rapids made up of the very limestone ledges

that also house the fossilized reef bed.

These rapids descend 26 feet in elevation over a two mile length

of the Ohio, making traveling down river very difficult during

low river levels.

So difficult, in fact, that it was the only natural barrier

along the entire river which meant traders and merchants

had to stop here to portage goods or wait

for the river to rise.

This stopping point would later expand into the cities of

Clarksville and Jeffersonville, Indiana, and

Louisville, Kentucky.

As a result of channeling of the river through a series

of locks and dams completed in 1830,

access to the archaeological site improved,

preserving this ancient marvel for generations to come.

>> BRANDON: You know, when I used to live in Cincinnati, I would

drive by that place all the time and see people out there, and I

had no idea what it was or what they were doing.

>> ASHLEY: Well, luckily, we have a show like

"Journey Indiana," to show us and everybody else.

>> BRANDON: You can learn more at

>> ASHLEY: Finally, we are going a little further upstream

to learn about an amusement park

that was abandoned more than 80 years ago.

Producer Adam Carroll has the story of Rose Island.

>> To tell you about Rose Island, first, I have to tell you

about the park that was here first.

The city of Louisville was already a pretty large city

at that point.

You had a lot of pollution beginning.

Coal was used in all the buildings, all the homes,

all the businesses had coal furnaces.

There was a lot of soot and ash from that.

And even in those days, people thought that it was

probably best to be away from that, to at least get out

into the nature, into fresh air on occasion.

At the same time, you had a company called

the River Excursion Company out of Louisville,

who owned and operated several large Steamboats.

They saw an opportunity with this desire

to get out of the city, if they were to create a park setting

away from the city, that would require a boat trip there,

then they could keep their boats making money.

So in the early 1880s, they created a park

called Fern Grove.

And Fern Grove was really just kind of a basic picnic grounds

for most of its life.

Think of an open, manicured city park.

You know, there were shade trees scattered around,

lots of picnic tables.

It was a very popular destination.

Churches would have their picnics here.

Eventually employee picnics for companies were offered here.

And before it was over, Fern Grove did become

just kind of a destination for the general public.

Eventually the park starts to lose its luster.

So Fern Grove was put up for sale, and it remains for sale

for several years before a businessman from Louisville

decides to buy it.

That man's name was David Rose.

So in 1923, he becomes the new owner of Fern Grove,

and right away, really reinvents the park.

He has a power plant built on site.

So they have electricity now.

They start to add games, rides, and other attractions to really

make it more than just a picnic ground.

The biggest change, though, was on the outside, the name.

It is now known as Rose Island.

That name is a little bit of a mystery to us,

and a little bit misleading.

Rose is obvious, David Rose, named after his family.

Island was a little bit more confusing for us,

because Fern Grove was never mentioned as an island

because it's not an island at all.

When this site became the popular destination,

and the boats were once again filled with people coming

from Louisville, Jeffersonville, Clarksville, New Albany,

would take those trips here for a day of picnicking

and fun in the park.

Mr. Rose was enjoying great success,

but then we have the stock market crash,

and, of course, The Great Depression.

But Mr. Rose continued to put his own funding into the park

to keep it open every season, knowing that eventually the

economy would get better, and of course, it does.

And business picks up again.

Mr. Rose starts to plan for his next phase of development,

including adding things like a golf course, and other games,

rides and attractions, but, again, he never gets

the opportunity to see that because in January of 1937,

it begins to rain.

And it continues to rain for days upon days, upon weeks

and we're left with what is considered the most

devastating flood ever seen in our part of the country,

what they would have called a 500-year flood.

And Rose Island was quite literally under water

from the Ohio River.

What was not swept away from the flood was damaged

so far beyond repair, Mr. Rose really could not afford

to reinvest at that point.

So he essentially abandons the park.

And in 1940, the land becomes part of the Indiana Army

Ammunition Plant, which essentially seals Rose Island

off to the outside world until 2011, with the opening of

our bridge here, and the opening of our Rose Island Trail.

>> When we first opened in 1996, Rose Island was part of that

original property.

We knew that there was a great interest

from the local community to visit.

Unfortunately, because of the way the park property

was laid out, we had no direct access to Rose Island.

So we knew that we would need a bridge to get people here.

So it really took a number of years of researching and finding

some creative funding routes for that.

Fortunately, we were able to find that with the help

of grants that were available for the preservation

of historic bridges.

So the idea then became if we could find a bridge that

would fit in our location, would fit those historic

requirements and is not needed in its original home,

that maybe we could get that bridge here.

The bridge was built in 1911, and it's an iron construction.

So the bridge was quite literally disassembled on site,

on the White River in its original location,

brought here piece by piece.

Those pieces were then restored, and it was reassembled here

over Fourteen Mile Creek.

A lot of the things that remain were the things that were built

with concrete.

So, of course, our swimming pool is a main attraction here.

It was a main attraction in those days as well.

It's actually the first Olympic length swimming pool built in

the state of Indiana.

That pool was still full of water in 2011

when we first got access.

But there's also a couple fountains and foundations

left of concession stands, things like that.

But really what was here before was much greater than what we

can see today.

So one thing you will find when touring the site on your own is

that there's not a lot here.

You know, as I said, most of it was washed away by the flood

or damaged beyond repair.

So we really needed to tell the story in a much better way;

otherwise, it was just a trail in the forest.

So we have some interpretive panels that have the stories

on them and written text and photos.

Of course, that's not something that everyone is capable of

taking in.

So we wanted to offer guided tours as much as possible.

But it's a walking tour.

Typically lasts an hour and a half to two hours, even though

we hike less than a mile.

There's just so much stories to tell, that it's a really slow

pace walk, just a casual stroll through the woods with our tour

guides just telling lots of stories.

So every year, we still have folks that are from the local

community that come out and say, I just heard you are doing

these tours.

My mother used to talk about these.

Or I went there when I was a child.

I have been able to meet some people over the years who were

here, and enjoyed it in its original state.

It's pretty amazing to hear those stories

and to be able to share those.

>> ASHLEY: You can get more info at

Just search for Rose Island.

And as always, we encourage you to stay connected with us.

>> BRANDON: Just head over to

There you can see full episodes, connect with us on Facebook,

YouTube and Instagram and suggest stories

from your neck of the woods.

>> ASHLEY: We also have a map feature that allows you to see

where we have been and to plan your own Indiana adventures.

>> BRANDON: And before we say good-bye, let's spend

a little more time exploring the Culbertson Mansion.

>> Production support for "Journey Indiana" is provided by

Columbus Visitors Center, celebrating everywhere art

and unexpected architecture in Columbus, Indiana.

Tickets for guided tours and trip planning information at

And by WTIU members.

Thank you.


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