Natural arches, potholes and abstract photography in the Wabash Watershed

After being responsible for every detail over three years exploring more than a hundred Southern Indiana natural areas, I'm more than content this summer to let someone else do the planning and driving. This past Wednesday granddaughter Raina and I joined landscape photographer Gary Morrison on a photo excursion to the Wabash River watershed.

We explored three natural attractions -- the Portland Arch Nature Preserve, Williamsport Falls and Fall Creek Gorge Preserve. All are located in west-central Indiana on either side of the river town Attica off U.S. 41, just south and west of Lafayette. I posted Photo Albums on the Natural Bloomington Photography Page.

Portland Arch, a DNR Division of Nature Preserves property, features Indiana's largest natural bridge. But when compared to Kentucky's Arches State Park, where these natural rock formations frame stunning vistas, Portland is not all that impressive. It's barely large enough to walk through without bending.

The Portland preserve's sandstone canyon and winding creek valley, however, are stunning. And its cliffs, forests, open prairies, spring-seep wetlands and savannas support an abundance of unique plants, wildflowers and trees. The stream, a tributary of the Bear Creek, is as scenic as any in the state's rugged south.

But it was the sandstone formations that commanded my photographic attention and penchant for abstract expression on Wednesday. Adding artificial light to natural scenes runs against my natural impulses, but it takes light to truly appreciate -- indeed to really see -- the palette of colors that adorn the walls with tints and hues that seem otherworldly.

Fall Creek Gorge potholes

Wading is prohibited at The Nature Conservancy's Fall Creek Gorge, but that didn't stop the locals (or me) from getting our toes wet. Judging from at least four other groups we encountered there on a Wednesday afternoon, negotiating the creek seems well-established tradition in that part of the state.

This preserve features "potholes" that have been created over time on the Fall Creek's bedrock bed as it swirls through a narrow sandstone canyon. I stayed in the shallows and didn't follow two teenage girls who slowly disappeared up the canyon. One panicky young boy slipped in one and found himself up to his nose.

"The water flowing through the gorge is of extremely high quality as is indicated by its 'exceptional use' designation by the State Board of Health," the DNR says. "Rare and unusual species which can be found in the preserve include snow trillium, grass-of-parnassus, white pine, and a native bush honeysuckle.

Williamsport, the dry falls

The falls in downtown Williamsport, a.k.a. the Dry Falls, lay claim as the state's tallest at 90 feet. We learned firsthand the source for the nickname; Raina saw some drops falling that I couldn't see. I didn't even take the camera out of the car.

And as I noted a few weeks ago, Gary and I unsuccessfully tried to find the Fremont Falls in Jefferson County, which some claim measures 108 feet. For now, I guess, I'll accept Williamsport's claim.

Photographs: Top, Bottom, Portland Arch Preserve; Left, Right, Fall Creek Gorge Nature Preserve.

Follow Us

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Flickr icon
Pinterest icon
RSS icon

Copyright 2013. Site created by Ansette, LLC.   Back to Top

Back to Top