Pirates invade Whitewater Canal!

by Joanne Williams, Program Director and Cultural Administrator at Whitewater Canal State Historic Site

Pirates have invaded the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site and they are taking prisoners! A Spartan general was taken prisoner by the pirate captain, Captain Panther, on Saturday night, Oct. 16. Saturday was a strange and wonderful evening for the site; the Belgian draft horses that normally pull the canal boat the Ben Franklin III were replaced by unicorns and the staff was replaced by witches, pirates, Spartans, mad doctors and men with green faces!

These strange occurrences will happen again on Saturday, Oct. 23, when the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site hosts its annual Spooky Halloween Cruises at 7:30, 8 and 8:30 p.m. A professional storyteller will be on board telling Halloween tales and children will receive a candy treat at the end of the ride, provided by the Brookville IGA and Rosenbergers Market. Admission to the cruise is $4 per person. In addition, the merchants of Metamora are sponsoring a “Haunted Village” at $5 per person for a hayride around Metamora’s “haunted” sights from 7 to 10 p.m. The Whitewater Canal Byway Association is sponsoring a “Haunted Depot” at the Gateway Park on U.S. 52 for $12 per person from 7 to 11 p.m.  Metamora will soon need to change its name to Halloween Town!

A Holiday Proposal

Written by Joanne Williams, program developer at Whitewater Canal State Historic Site

Ivan & Christa at Whitewater Canal

 The Ben Franklin III Canal Boat and Metamora Grist Mill, along with the town of Metamora, were decorated to the hilt for the annual Christmas Walk on Friday, Dec. 4. Deb Alvey, Whitewater Canal State Historic Site office manager and official photographer, was out taking pictures of the town and historic site for the marketing department when she came across a very romantic and life-changing event. Romance must have been in the air because visitor Ivan Cole took the opportunity to propose to Christa Turner on the bridge over the Whitewater Canal. The happy and excited couple asked Deb to capture this warm moment for them on her camera.

We aren’t sure how many times this has happened at the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site, but we are sure glad that Deb was there to help the young people remember this important event in their lives. Congratulations to Ivan and Christa and we hope they have many happy years together!

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Whitewater Canal: A Rockwell Christmas?

www.indianamuseum.org/sites

Joe Konz's "Whitewater Canal at Night"

The Historic Sites take on a very different ambiance during the holidays. Decorations, lights and, of course, our friendly staffers … all combine to make it such a wonderful time of year! Apparently our visitors feel the same way. Rather than ME tell you how great we think Whitewater Canal is during the holidays, why don’t you check out the words and beautiful photos of someone who recently visited …

Click here and thanks, Joe, for sharing!

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Strange flying objects over Metamora

Written by Joanne Williams, program developer at Whitewater Canal State Historic Site

A UFO was spotted in the Metamora, Indiana, region on Saturday, Nov. 21 around 6:30 p.m. Citizens reported seeing what appeared to be a sleigh pulled by flying deer-like animals. The animal at the front of this unusual vehicle had a red light flashing from its face area. A little later that same evening, the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site had a very special visitor from the far north, Santa Claus!

A crowd of around 300 visitors and area residents enjoyed an evening of music provided by Metamora’s own Catrina and the Baggy Bottom Boys and the Roamin’ Catholic Choir from New Alsace, Indiana. Santa himself led the carol singing. Hot drinks and sweet treats were provided by the Metamora Merchants Association. The evening ended with the lighting of the town Christmas tree located in the Metamora Grist Mill Park and a short fireworks display. This wonderful evening marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Metamora.

Santa appointed Sydney Snedegar, Whitewater Canal Historic Site’s miller, as a special elf. Syd, who has worked in the mill for 13 years, has used her decorating skills to give the Metamora Mill a special holiday look each of these years. Syd plans to retire in August of 2010 so this is the last year we can enjoy her skills in holiday decorating.

To enjoy the decorations at the Metamora Mill and the town of Metamora’s holiday designs, plan to visit during the Annual Metamora Christmas Walk.  The Christmas Walk begins on Friday, Nov. 27.  The Metamora Grist Mill will be open extended hours along with the shops in Metamora.  Every shop will be open and the Christmas spirit will be alive!  Candle lights line the pathways, and lanterns will line parts of the Whitewater Canal.  Strolling carolers and Santa will be there for everyone to enjoy.  Candles will be lit on Fridays and Saturdays. Extended hours for the mill are 12:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on November 27, 28; December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19. Sunday hours on November 29, December 6, 13, and 20 will be 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Good feelings and beautiful sights will continue with the Metamora Christmas Walk that begins on Friday, Nov. 27.  The Metamora Grist Mill will be open extended hours along with the shops in Metamora. Every shop will be open and the Christmas spirit will be alive! Candle lights line the pathways and lanterns will line parts of the Whitewater Canal. Strolling carolers and Santa will be there for everyone to enjoy. Extended hours for the mill are noon to 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 27, 28, Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19. Sunday hours on Nov. 29, Dec. 6, 13 and 20 are noon to 5 p.m.

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Spring “cleaning” at the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site

whitewater_shaftHow do you prepare a six-mile section of the Whitewater Canal to turn a wheel, maintain water flow and float a canal boat for the thousands of visitors who want to ride on this unique piece of Indiana history? Jay Dishman, site manager of the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site, knows how. He and the rest of the Whitewater Canal maintenance crew have been working hard to get ready for the May 1 launch of the Ben Franklin III canal boat.

In addition, the Metamora Mill has returned to waterpower! The shaft, which is turned by the waterwheel located within Lock #25 and turns the gears in the mill’s lower level, has been repaired and placed back into action by the Vuckson Excavating Company. The mill had been running with the use of an electric motor located in the gear room. The pictures to the left show how this tricky replacement took place.

The Whitewater Canal grounds and maintenance staff also made several needed repairs to the mill wheel and during the winter months that included tightening the rods, building and placing new cleats on the wheel, checking buckets against the shrouds, and cleaning out the pathway between the mill and the wheel.

Repairs and work in other parts of the six-mile stretch included the Laurel Feeder Dam west abutment. Water is flowing through the canal nicely after sediment clean-out areas were created near the Feeder Dam. A major repair of the canal bank took place at an area that had been washed out approximately halfway between Metamora and Brookville. The crew also spent a full day clearing out beaver dams located on the canal between Brookville and Metamora.

Finally, Whitewater Canal personnel will be spending the month of April working on the canal boat. The bow cabin roof and the rub rails will be repaired and the entire boat will be repainted. Everything will be ready for a season full of new experiences, so come join the Whitewater Canal crew beginning May 1 for a voyage like none other.

Joanne Williams is the program developer at the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site.