Trails in Indiana

Metamora - Whitewater Canal Trail


Metamora is a small town, but its history is quite impressive, and it certainly offers many kinds of trails to view in our country's evolution.

Time Length: 
10.46 minutes.
Metamora, Franklin County - Indiana.

2010 / 11

Go to Whitewater Canal Trail map and description.


Script of Metamora - Whitewater Canal Trail

Metamora Indiana is a small town located east of Indianapolis it's about two-thirds of the way to Cincinnati. It's in Franklin County and though it is small, there is a lot of history and many events and activities that take place here from April to December. Fall is an excellent time to visit though.
On the way there you pass through places like Oldenburg along with other travelers of all different modes. Oldenburg is known for its numerous spires and its German heritage.
The colors here bring out that down on the farm atmosphere and it brings out the kid in everybody wanting to take part.
Metamora is also home to a newer trail called the Whitewater Canal Trail. Its path will eventually reach from Brookville to Metamora, some eight miles one way. It can accommodate hikers, walkers, and even cross country skiers. This time of the year, in the fall, Metamora rolls out its hospitality and hands on history to visitors of all age groups and it offers a very pleasant outing whether you walk, ride a bike, or just amble down the road. It's quaint houses are cozy and its vintage stores offer gifts, sweet treats, antiques, anything you'd want.
Senior seem to like the ice cream and dessert sections, while their grand-kids go for the games. Younger folks can wind their ways through the hay-Bale labyrinth. There is a corn shelling station where you can actually see how it was done not so long ago. Then, instead of the search for a needle in haystack, it's a a fine coins in the corn bin game. There are holiday weekend train ride-shopping excursions to Connersville to the north and a farmers market in Brooksville in season.
But the granddaddy of tricks or treats here is the 10 acre Metamora corn maze. From the outside, you think it's just an ordinary cornfield. Get inside, though, and you'll wish you had a nose of a beagle to trace your way back. People find their ways here from all over the state in order to get lost in it. There is a welcoming ten at the end of the corn-road. Unless you need to be rescued early.
In order to appreciate Metamora history, a visitor should take a look back at what used to be here. This region was home to author Lew Wallace as well as painters Ottis Adams and TC Steel for a time, and John Herron who was an original founder of the Herron School of art in Indianapolis.
The Whitewater Canal followed the river of the same name. The canal was built in the early eighteen hundreds from Lawrenceburg and Cincinnati on the Ohio River, and then traveled west through Brookville and Metamora. In most places all the signs of the canal itself had vanished or been filled in. But parts of the canal route survived hardships such as Indiana's early economic problems, and then the railroad which largely replaced canals.
There were hydro-powered mills built along the canal and in the case of Metamora, the dam and mill helped it survive in today's time, even generating electricity for a while.
The canal is now a state historic site, and the grist mill there is still operational. You can see here the old mill and the waterfall from it. This begins the part of the canal that still exists. You can also go inside the mill actually see Indiana corn being processed into flower and meal, which you can buy right there. Go down underneath the mill and you see the leather belts driving the machinery to grind the corn. Visitors to the 1838 town of Metamora can take a canal ride along a portion of the original waterway and go inside the mill.
Several locks remain on the canal including a twin set near the trail route. The canal locks look very much like those painted in the eighteen hundreds the English landscape artist John Constable.
Then there is the amazing engineering fete, still working like it use to, where a covered, wooden aqueduct carrying the canal channel was built to cross above a creek at Metamora. If you ride on the boat, you can see how this crossing was maneuvered in the eighteen hundreds. A handler disconnects the horses in harness, leaves them by land to the other end of the aqueduct, while the boat floats on down the aqueduct to meet them. The horses are then reconnected to the boat and continue towing.
Earlier we mention that there is a recreational trail here. Tom Cooney is a spokesman for the trail. The Metamora corn maze event that held here every October weekend charges a fee to get in, and the proceeds go to completing this Whitewater Canal Trail.
The Whitewater Trail follows much of the surviving old canal route in this area. The trail itself often is the same as the original towpath - the very path used by mules or draft horses pulling boats through the waterway.
This is the west side of the current trail. It's of gravel and crushed limestone and is heading toward Brookville, where the lake is. Kiosks have been placed along the route with information on trail history, flora, and fauna found here, and the routing of the trail.
Aside from the holiday train to Connersville, there is a tour train that partly parallels the trail, and on which you can also book a short passage. The trail here is a gentle easy track. Sometimes you'll see a shuttle taking folks from Metamora center to the corn maze.

So Metamora is small, but its history is quite impressive, and it certainly offers many kinds of trails to view in our country's evolution. Sometimes these trails and tracks lie right alongside one another and sometimes the same trail they carried mules or draft horses now leads the way for feet and bicyclists, still traveling to a destination. 

By Jane Conrad.