It took 390 million years to transform the Falls of the Ohio into hundreds of acres of land filled with water, wildlife and captivating fossil beds. And in just two short years, the falls will experience another significant change inside its Interpretive Center that has welcomed school field trips and visitors from 93 countries over the last 18 years.
Last week, I took a trip with a friend down to the state park to see the facility that I, too, once visited on a field trip.
When I arrived at the Interpretative Center, I wandered through the various sections of the building, where I saw several of the exhibits I had witnessed as a child: the Native American arrowhead display, the giant fish aquarium and the cases of mounted animals and fossils.
Though I had observed the exhibits before, I was just as fascinated years later. But after a few minutes in the facility, Jennifer Wilcox, director of advancement for the Falls of the Ohio Foundation, explained how everything I was looking at was about to change.
“The exhibits that are in here were here when the building was built,” Wilcox said. “They’re very informative, but they’re very text heavy. People learn differently now than they did 17 or 18 years ago. That’s why we’re doing the capital campaign (Rock the Rocks) to raise the funds to put brand new exhibits in the facility from one end to the other.”
The new exhibits, which should be completed by 2013, will have four key themes: the ancient sea, the changing land during the Ohio River’s formation, the early people and how their culture shaped the area, and the era when Native Americans and Europeans began to coexist.
After viewing the floor plans of the future Interpretive Center, which included a virtual aquarium and glass sculpture from Flame Run, I was already anticipating a visit in the coming years. I’m not a huge history buff nor a fishing and wildlife aficionado, but the images of the high-tech, interactive Interpretive Center left me excited to get to know the history of the falls even better than I had before.
The Interpretive Center isn’t all there is to experience at the Falls of the Ohio, though. The facility is surrounded by hiking and fishing areas, sections for bird watching and picnicking and fossil beds, which I attempted to climb later in the evening.
I’ll admit I came ill-prepared for the trek across the fossil beds, but even in flip-flops and a white dress, I was still fully capable of ascending the intricate rock formations that surround the Ohio River. With a little strategy and a lot of balance, I worked my way over to the edge of the fishing area where I arrived at a breathtaking view of the river.
The walk turned out to be a fun, relaxing workout filled with beautiful landscape every step of the way. I enjoyed every second of the walk, stopping to take a few photos of the stunning scenery along the way.
If you’re looking for an escape from the daily stress of life, I suggest venturing to the fossil beds for an hour or two. The soothing sounds of the river will keep you calm and at ease, as you step between the rocks and vegetation on the cliffs.
Though I only had time to visit the Interpretive Center and fossil beds, there is still a lot left to experience at the state park. With the fishing, hiking and bird watching opportunities, there’s something new to discover on every single visit, and with 390 million years of history, it’s impossible to cover it all in just one day.
Contact writer Ashley Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
201 W. Riverside Drive in Clarksville, Ind.
The State Park is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day.
The Interpretive Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
$5 for ages 19 and older
$2 for ages 18 and younger
Children under 2 are free.
Family Fun Fair: Saturday, Aug. 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Rock the Rocks: Saturday, Aug. 20, from 6 to 10 p.m. The fundraiser will include dinner, bourbon tastings, handcrafted beers, live music, a silent auction, a fossil bed hike and a viewing of new exhibit plans.
Tickets are $75. For information, visit www.fallsoftheohio.org.
photos by ASHLEY ANDERSON | Voice-Tribune
Category: Out & About
About the Author (Author Profile)
Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).