Turkey Run State Park
Turkey Run State Park is Indiana's third most popular state park. It was also supposed to be Indiana's first state park in 1916. Richard Lieber raised $20,000 to purchase the land, which had been appraised at $15,000. Lieber was outbid by a timber company who paid just over $30,000 for the property. After the auction, he was able to convince the company to sell the land to him for their purchase price plus $10,000. Lieber then had to come up with another $20,000. Fortunately, he was able to convince Carl Fisher this was a worthy cause. Fisher personally donated $5,000 anf comvimced his colleagues on the board of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to donate 10% of the proceeds from the next Indianapolis 500. The state obtained the land, but the opening of the park was postponed until the fall of 1916. On July 4, McCormick's Creek had become Indiana's first state park, and Turkey Run became the second on Veteran's Day.
Turkey Run is located in Parke County, in western Indiana. The nearest town is Marshall, which has a population of around 300. Marshall bills itself as "The Gateway to Turkey Run."
Salmon Lusk served under General William Henry Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe and during the War of 1812. For his service Lusk was given one thousand acres around the east end of the park. Salmon Lusk was originally from the Green Mountains of Vermont, so this rugged portion of Indiana appealed to him. He built a log cabin in 1822 and a mill on Sugar Creek in 1826. The stretch along Sugar Creek was known as "The Narrows" since the creek is significantly narrower there. A small village grew up around the mill, and in 1841 Salmon Lusk built a two story brick home that still stands today, just inside the park,along Trail 4. All was well until a flood in 1847 destroyed the mill and the entire village, except for the Lusk Home.
Salmon Lusk lived in the home until his death in 1869. His widow and son John continued to live there. After his mother passed away in 1880, John became a hermit. He refused to let anyone cut down trees on his property. This made the property perfect for a state park when John Lusk died in 1915.
The trails at Turkey Run pass by lots of unique features with interesting names:
- Newby Gulch
- Box Canyon
- Gypsy Gulch
- Goose Rock
- Boulder Canyon
- Falls Canyon
- Bear Hollow
- Ice Box
- Camel's Back
- Rocky Hollow
- Wedge Rock
- Punch Bowl
The most interesting trails are on the north side of Sugar Creek. There is a suspension bridge that allows you to cross the creek. Some of the trails are quite rugged. There are some steps and ladders on the trails. Because of the deep ravines, much of the trails stay cool even on hot summer days. You should expect to get your shoes wet, since some of the trails follow small streams. Stay out of the area during heavy rains.
The Lieber cabin was built in 1848 from virgin timber. The huge logs are made from tulip, which is Indiana's state tree. It was moved to Sunset Point in the park in 1918. Lieber happened upon this cabin when he got lost returning to Turkey Run. He wanted to buy it from the owner, who refused to sell because he needed the storage space. Lieber had a new shed built for the man in exchange for the cabin, and both parties were satisfied. Today the cabin is a small museum which commemorates Colonel Lieber's many contributions to Indiana's state park system.