Original story written by: Debbie Blank
Published in: The Herald-Tribune
On: January 17, 2012
The Whitewater Canal Scenic Byway and its Whitewater Valley Gateway Park in Metamora are starting to get noticed.
The county’s bicentennial quilt show was held at the park’s depot there and a Halloween Museum of Fright in an adjacent building. The park’s campground was open during great weather and some Canal Days vendors and parking were located there.
The byway, a 76-mile canal route from the National Road that bisects Indianapolis all the way to the Ohio River was approved by the Indiana Department of Transportation in 2008. The route passes through Franklin, Union, Wayne, Fayette and Dearborn counties in Indiana and several in Ohio.
Mike Pence, the 6th District U.S. congressman, spoke at the Whitewater Canal Byway Association’s fourth annual dinner Jan. 11. He recalled the idea of attracting tourists to southeastern Indiana with a facility and scenic route was “birthed on the back porch of the Metamora Inn just a few years ago … (The proposal) said yes to rural Indiana, yes to rural Ohio. We can come together and act in a collective way and dream big ….
“As we think about how we can take Indiana to the next level … making sure all 92 counties share in that prosperity …the model you have here will be one I carry with me for many years to come.”
Connersville Mayor Leonard Urban said during the prayer before dinner, “We’ve been able to preserve something our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will enjoy along with visitors.”
President Candy Yurcak honored three with Spirit of the Byway Awards, noting they were all on that back porch.
Glen “G.I.” and Jo Ball, Metamora, “stayed with us from Day One. They never lost faith. They have done anything and everything you can imagine,” from painting park buildings to mowing acres there, from cooking for fundraisers to performing in dinner shows. “This year especially they went beyond what we could have possibly asked,” hosting a bluegrass fest at the park in June.
Paul Baudendistel, Metamora, “understands and loves this valley like we all do.” The local historian, who has been researching the Whitewater Canal for 50 years, sharing his knowledge on the WCBA Web site, also pitched in, “painting every fire hydrant and electric box and post in the park.”
Master of ceremonies Dave Cook, a former WCBA vice president, recounted recent progress.
In addition to sprucing up the 33-acre park north of U.S. 52 in Metamora, the nonprofit has received a $60,000 award from the National Scenic Byway Organization for the development of a corridor management plan. Other grants arrived from the Indiana Humanities Council, Franklin County Community Foundation and Franklin County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission.
Three loop routes off of the byway – East Fork in Union and Wayne counties; Oldenburg and Batesville; and Ripley and Dearborn counties – were officially designated and will appear on state maps.
Cook said financial sponsors for byway directional signs are still needed, especially in Dearborn County and along the loops.
A 147-page driving guide compiled by Phil Anderson, Carmel, is completed and waiting approval. The free guide will be available soon online.
Association leaders have set goals for 2012 and beyond. A park visitors pavilion is a priority. “Each county will have an area to display (brochures and artifacts about) culture, history, sights to see and places to stay.”
In partnership with Whitewater Canal State Historic Site officials, there will be a Civil War re-enactment for fifth-graders in April.
Family summer camps are slated for one weekend each month from April through September. The second annual bluegrass fest is in the works.
According to Cook, “We’ll be working on a corridor management plan and trying to get national byway designation.”
A 1,500-seat amphitheater at the back of the property could be constructed in the future. Tony Bauer, who has designed similar structures, contributed free plans.
Original story: Batesville Herald Tribune
News and Events