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July 28, 2013

Points of interest along the Wabash: Nondescript origin can fill in some blanks of Hoosiers' Wabash knowledge

FORT RECOVERY, OHIO — The sights along the river¹s first 28 miles through the Buckeye State are modest, but interesting, especially for Indiana history buffs.

A small roadside park four miles south of Fort Recovery represents the logical starting point for a Wabash adventure into Ohio. The meltwaters of a glacier carved the valley that generates the river. Its source site is actually acres and acres of draining farmland, but the headwaters manifest in a culvert on the corner of a corn crop and a wooded tree row.

That spot rests on private property, and permission from landowners would be required to visit, but the public park at the intersection of Ohio 49 and the Mercer-Darke County Line Road contains a parking lot, lawn for a picnic, and a historical marker explaining the significance of Fort Recovery on one side, and a map of the Wabash, pointing out key military battles along its route.

The brook-sized Wabash, at that point, offers a quirky photo opportunity as it trickles past the park¹s edge.

The river winds east, then veers back, slicing through Fort Recovery. On its bank there is the Fort Recovery Museum and Park, with artifacts and pioneer buildings ‹ replicas from the 1791 and 1794 battles between U.S. Army and Native American forces. (The village of Fort Recovery also holds a pop culture footnote as the hometown of guitarist Rick Derringer of "Hang on Sloopy" and "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo" fame.)

The Wabash crosses from Ohio to Indiana¹s Jay County under a bridge along State Line Road. The spot features no clues to its cultural relevance, but the river¹s simple scenery makes for a keepsake picture.

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or mark.bennett@tribstar.com.

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