Recently former Traders Point resident Mrs. Ward allowed me to photograph her collection. These photos include the pike township fire department (of which her husband was an active volunteer), 1956 flood photos, and images old and newer of the General Store.
Our good friend George Wilkins has ended his heroic journey with cancer. George was one of the youngest people I met with vivid memories of growing up near Traders Point. His father had operated a garage and Gulf gas station in the village until it was forced closed in the 1960s by the construction of Interstate 65 and the Eagle Creek Reservoir. George’s father (also George) modified and raced stock cars at IRP. This started young George’s lifelong interest in racing and model cars. George was a professional videographer and was a stringer for national media covering stories in Indiana. He was instrumental in leading Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery to a firmer foundation and helping to arrange the Asher land gift for the cemetery’s expansion. George and I became acquainted when I learned of his wonderful video interviews with folks who had grown up in and around Traders Point. First published as a VHS, George had recently converted the interviews to DVD. Although copies may no longer be available from his website, the Pike Township Historical Society, located within Pike High School, owns a copy. I believe the Pike Township Library also owns a copy.
He leaves behind a young wife with two children. Arrangements are being handled by Flanner & Buchanan’s Zionsville Mortuary with burial in Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery. Flanner and Buchanan’s Zionsville Mortuary will host visitation this Friday December 7 from 4- 8 p.m. Services are Saturday December 8, 11 a.m. also at Flanner & Buchanan, Zionsville.
I just received the above excerpt from the 1882 census showing several interesting facts about Traders Point at that time. The graded school was located between Moore and Lafayette Roads at the top of the hill. Recently I have found it helpful to relate dates to macro events occurring in the country at the same time. In 1882 we were emerging from the long depression, a humble reminder that recessions and depressions are always with us. Here’s an excerpt from wiki about the “long depression”:
In the United States, economists typically refer to the Long Depression as the Depression of 1873–79, kicked off by the Panic of 1873, and followed by the Panic of 1893, book-ending the entire period of the wider Long Depression. The National Bureau of Economic Research dates the contraction following the panic as lasting from October 1873 to March 1879. At 65 months, it is the longest-lasting contraction identified by the NBER, eclipsing the Great Depression’s 43 months of contraction.
The Eagle Creek Nature Preserve near Traders Point was created when the Indianapolis Colts moved to Indianapolis. But few know the full story that connects the Indianapolis Colts to a 100 acre nature preserve near Eagle Creek Park or the fact that the sensitive area was once slated to be mined for gravel.
In an Indianapolis Star article dated Tuesday April 15, 1980 we learn the Audubon Society chapter of Indianapolis demanded an immediate halt to the controversial mining operation on flood control land inside the park’s boundaries. But the headline blared: “Gravel Firm Lawyer has Warning for City”. Phillip H. Minton, attorney for U.S. Allied-Aggregates, said the firm wanted to mine gravel on some 80 acres of city-owned land north of the park along Eagle Creek. Minton said the company signed an agreement in 1967 which states that mining can occur in the “Eagle Creek Reservoir Basin”. The Indianapolis Department of Public Works had been seeking to negotiate an end to the mining but U.S. Allied had rejected the city’s proposal the previous week. Minton said that if the city halted the mining with a court order, and U.S. Allied subsequently won the right to operate, the company would seek “substantial damages” from the city and the “entire Eagle Creek Reservoir basis will be excavated.” Representatives of the Audubon Society were joined by the Sierra Club, the Indianapolis Garden Club and others critical of the existence of mining in a park, saying it is damaging to wildlife habitats as well as being an eyesore.
On January 16, 1985 the Indianapolis Star reported the designation of land at the northeast end of the park as an informal arboretum and other land in that area as a preserved section, or wildlife conservation area. In the same article the parks board approved a community park at the southeast corner of West 56th Street and Reed Road, next to the Indianapolis Colts training facility under construction. What was not mentioned in the article was that the city had experienced a net loss of parks land in order to attract the Colts and that the director of the Parks Department was furious.
More than ten years after Minton’s threat, a very small article in the same paper (November 06, 1990), had the following notice: “On Monday the Public Works Board voted 3-0 to turn 111 acres of vacant land across from Eagle Creek Park over to the city parks department for use as a nature preserve. The site is just east of Lafayette Road near 79th Street. Eagle Creek administrator Steve D. Waltz said the city had tentatively agreed to the transfer in 1984 when the parks department gave up some land so a training center could be built for the Indianapolis Colts football team”. The article did not mention the transfer came from the Department of Public Works, the group obligated to honor the mining agreement. By transferring the custody of ownership the city had found a clever way to terminate their agreement with U.S. Allied-Aggregates.
I learned from a reliable source that Parks Department Director Art Strong was visibly upset with Mayor Hudnut when he learned the Mayor had offered park land to the Colts for their training facility. Strong had fought hard to create more parks land for use by city residents and he was appalled that some of it was being used like a political football to benefit a privately owned business. Although it took years to formally terminate the mining agreements and transfer the public works department land to the Parks Department for a nature preserve, Director Strong’s desire to have no net loss of park land was realized.
Today the nature preserve is a pristine area unknown to most park visitors and naturalists. Lacking a parking lot and direct access by trail to the primary park it is not easily accessible. The area is home to a buried petroleum pipeline dating to the 1950s when Purdue University controlled the property. The owners of the pipeline have a need for aerial surveillance of their line and this has necessitated a 50 foot wide cut of nature that visibly scars the area. But that fact is lost on the beaver, deer, foxes, coyote and hawks that frequent the preserve. Since the same pipeline extends south through Eagle Creek Park, the pipeline company will soon extend a similar swath cut through park land located on the west side of the reservoir. In order to accommodate the naturalist’s concerns about the cutting through the woods, the company has agreed to delay their cuts until later this year.
Found another Traders Point trinket on EBAY that goes in the shoebox, er website. Photographer John Pontiere did an amazing job of traveling the midwest and snapping large format negative images of scenic significance; especially covered bridges. He died in 1990 at the age of 74 but I do not have the date the photo was taken. The bridge originally spanned Fishback Creek on 86th Street and was relocated several thousand feet west prior to the construction of Interstate 65 in 1963.
You’ve probably never heard of Traders Point’s Jack White. I came across his name years ago and thought it curious that his career was so short — but I recently learned his short career gave him a bit of national historical significance. Born June 19, 1878 in Traders Point, Indiana, his first and last game in the majors was on June 26, 1904 for the Boston Beaneaters. His one at bat placed him in a unique club. That club has now been wonderfully profiled in The Cup of Coffee Club: The Ballplayers Who Got Only One Game by Rick Paulas. Here’s an excerpt: Of the 17,808 players (and counting) who’ve run up the dugout steps and onto a Major League field, only 974 have had one-game careers. In baseball parlance, these single-gamers are known as “Cup of Coffee” players. The number fluctuates slightly throughout each season as new prospects get called up to fill in for injured veterans, or when roster size expands in September. (Last year, for example, Braves rookie Julio Teheran was a Cup of Coffee player for the eleven days between his MLB debut and a spot start.) But staying on the list for an extended period of time is generally not a good sign. It’s an ominous one, an indication that something’s gone horribly wrong, that however long a person has worked to attain his dreams, all he was allowed was a brief glimpse before the curtain was yanked shut in front of him. The Cup of Coffee club is filled exclusively with people who do not want to be members. Full article