Seeking prehistoric Hoosier National life; Tincher Hollow, Beaver Creek, Rainbow Lake, Buzzard Roost

Our search for prehistoric life in the Hoosier National Forest began serendipitously on a sunny Feb. 12 morning in the U.S. Forest Service office in Bedford, where we inquired about archaeological sites near the Ohio River. The last stop there led to a wall-sized map of the Hoosier and a staffer providing detailed directions to that day’s destination—a wintry drive along King’s Ridge in southwest Lawrence County.

The Natural Bloomington to-do list has long included a formal sit down with Forest Service staff to discuss Rewilding Southern Indiana: The Hoosier National Forest book project. Among the topics would be a strategy for sensitive issues, such as at-risk plant and animal species and cultural sites. The to-meet list included Hoosier Archaeologist Angie Doyle.

Which is where serendipity made its appearance. As a staffer explained the Forest Service does not discuss archaeological sites, Angie walked by on the way to her car and a conference. We had a brief chat and agreed to meet soon.

The day’s scouting trip to Perry County with nature photog buddy Gary Morrison was a lay-of-the-land journey and didn’t anticipate hiking to any prehistoric Indian campsites before our Bedford encounter. Based on a March 2015 trip to the nearby 19-mile Mogan Ridge Trail and Mano Point historic site, the trails in that neck of the Hoosier woods would be too sloppy to hike anyway.

Among the goals was making contact with some locals on the Derby shore of the Ohio River, where I expect to spend some time the next few months. A couple conversations suggested the say-nothing approach to the Hoosier’s cultural sites has paid dividends. No one knew of any prehistoric campers nearby. One had heard tale of an infamous looter.

The blue-sky day’s photo excursion produced a Photo Album from stops at another Mogan trailhead, a small quarry turned fishing hole called Rainbow Lake, and the scenic Buzzard Roost Trail, whose sandstone outcrops sport bleached-white sycamores growing from their sheer faces, which stare across the Ohio at patchwork Kentucky farmlands.


A late-January day trip journeyed south and west from King’s Ridge deep into the Tincher Hollow and Beaver Creek areas near the Lawrence County borders with Martin and Orange Counties—via Tincher Pond, another Hoosier fishing spot on U.S. 50.

A rugged and isolated backwoods area, Tincher Hollow occupies a sizeable chunk of Hoosier National forestland just east of the arrow-point intersection of U.S. 50 and Indiana 60. Surrounded  by private property, this section of the forest has only has one public access point, maybe two.

The Beaver Creek area lies south of Indiana 60, a little southwest of Tincher. Beaver Creek drains the valley between Grodey and Bosler Ridges on its westward route to the White River East Fork at Shoals.

Hoosier National Forest: Top, Buzzard Roost; Center, Rainbow Lake; Bottom, Potts Creek.


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