A stone quarry in Traders Point

Friday, June 20, 2008

Elvin Wickline was a West Virginian transplanted to Indiana. At the time I met him in 1984 he was in his 70s. He was practicing real estate as a way to make a little money. He had a sign on a piece of property in Traders Point. It was a parcel that my wife and my brother and I would eventually purchase and subdivide for our two homes. An acre for us, an acre for my brother and 3 acres in the floodway of Eagle Creek that was 20 feet lower than the buildable lots that would become our private park. “There’s a swamp on the property,” Wickline reported when I called the number on the rusty for sale sign situated in the high weeds at the corner of Moore and Lafayette Roads. “And there are plans for a gravel mining operation east of the property,” he warned, “so you may have lakefront property in 20 or 30 years.” Elvin encouraged us to walk the property on our own and to to be careful of the briars and poison ivy. What we found was a neglected and overgrown parcel that held enormous potential. He showed us a newspaper article that quoted Phillip H. Minton, the attorney for Allied Aggregates, claiming the mineral rights to a 200 acre area east of the parcel of interest extending to Eagle Creek. We bought it anyway. As fate would have it, the mineral rights were terminated after the city persuaded the Baltimore Colts to move in March 1984. In a complicated transaction that transferred park-owned land on West 56th to the Colts for a training facility, the city’s Department of Public Works gave their aggregate-laden parcel between West 79th Street and Lafayette Road to Indy Parks for a nature preserve 1986. After negotiating with Wickline and his client, Bob and Patty Barth, for a contract sale, and years before our homes were built, we would spend our weekends at the pond. We ordered a dumpster and filled it with old bikes, broken bottles and rusty cans; junk that dated to a time when neighbors knew they could place trash there without penalty. We fought back the jungle with bow saws, weed whips and axes, and ended long days with weekend bon fires. We camped there and dreamed of one day living permanently nearby. We fished Doug Clark’s stocked lake (now Mill Pond), where you had to drive thru a red barn to get to the water, and we relocated a few bass and blue gill. Fast forward to 1990 or 91. The phone rang in our new home on the property. “I’m one of your neighbors on Moore Road. My name is Glidewell. I have lots of memories about that pit in your backyard. Mind if I share them with you?” Within minutes we were in Boz Glidewell’s driveway. Boz had lost most of his hearing, due in part to weekends spent wearing a yellow shirt at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, directing traffic and just hanging out. He was nearly blind. Within a few short years he would be gone. But his mind was sharp the day we met. We piled into the car and drove down to the pond, accessing its lane from 79th Street. “Every old road in Pike Township has gravel from this pit. The horses were hitched to wagons and they would back down this ramp,” he said, pointing to a gradual incline that led into the water. “There was always a steam shovel over there,” he said, motioning toward the southeastern corner of the pond.” Another neighbor, Kathy Burden Bewsey, grew up in the 1960’s in a house across the street, (at the northeast corner of West 79th and Moore). “One day Jack Myers put a motor boat in the pit and raced it across.” Kathy remembered her dad fishing there and bringing home dinner. She recalled riding her bike down a much steeper and gravel-covered 79th street toward the creek before it was raised like a levee and paved with asphalt. Aerial photography from the 1930s shows an active quarry The quarry expands in subsequent aerial photos taken in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. At some point in the ’60s or early ’70s the pond was exhausted and abandoned. It was allowed to fill with water. We swam in its water but don’t recommend it. A few years ago we built a dock. Adirondack chairs are nailed to the wood because we tired of fishing them out of the water after a storm. The pond is narrowly visible to West 79th Street. Most motorists drive too fast to know it’s there. That’s probably just as well.

About Ross Reller

I am pleased you have expressed interest in learning more about the historic Traders Point area in Indianapolis, Indiana. From 1980 to 1982 I was employed in the PR department at Conner Prairie Museum in Hamilton County. There I learned about William Conner, an important figure in Indiana's pioneer days. A decade later I became interested in the history of the Traders Point area and was surprised to learn that William Conner had been the first land owner in the area. In 1823 he acquired, through the Federal land office in Brookville, a patent for an 80 acre tract carved by Eagle Creek and an Indian trail that was about to be named the first toll roadway through the township (Lafayette Road). Thirty years later a village took shape within this tract. A grain mill on the creek, houses, churches, stores, restaurants, and two gas stations would take shape here in the creek valley hamlet of Traders Point. By 1962 all improvements (except a farmer's co-op) had been removed by the Indianapolis Flood Control Board to make way for Interstate 65 and a new reservoir. This blog is dedicated to preserving evidence of this historic area but I will occasionally use it to discuss related topics. To activate this follow, simply click the confirm button below. If you don't want to follow, ignore this message and we'll never bother you again. I am also a member of the Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery, a non profit association still selling burial plots for those who would like to spend all eternity in Traders Point, and I am an officer in the Pike Township Historical Society and the Traders Point Association of Neighborhoods.
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