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Thankful for Indiana’s Turkey Run State Park

November 24, 2022

Thankful for Indiana’s Turkey Run State Park

Week 4.  November—A Month of Thanksgiving

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

                I do hope that all of my WORDWALK readers have enjoyed or are enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I continue to celebrate this month of Thanksgiving with thoughts of Turkey Run State Park—2,382 acres in Marshall, Indiana.  Established in 1916, Turkey Run became the second state park in my home state.  This picturesque state park welcomes one million visitors each year.

                Why do I mention this state park on Thanksgiving?  When our family gatherings decreased significantly in size, my parents and I changed the tradition of preparing Thanksgiving at home to celebrating a number of Thanksgiving Days in the 1980s, at Turkey Run State Park.  While the family celebrations of the November holiday were most precious at my maternal grandmother’s, our own home or especially at my Aunt Zita’s Italian restaurant—my parents and I did enjoy the forested and rustic setting of the Turkey Run Inn for Thanksgiving.  The employees of the Narrows Restaurant, located on the main floor of the Turkey Run Inn, always served a delicious and complete turkey dinner which did taste homemade.  This location became so popular for holiday dinners that we also, in later years, enjoyed a couple of dinners in the larger and newer Lusk Room—overflow area for the restaurant and a banquet/conference room–which seats 250 guests and which, located in the lower level of the Inn, has a panoramic view of the forest.  Nevertheless, I still prefer the primary restaurant on the main floor because of the rustic feel—despite the view of the swimming pool.

                Even though our extended family, as well as school friends, gathered at the state park many times during the spring and summer months to take advantage of all the park had to offer—after a Thanksgiving dinner at the Narrows Restaurant, when weather permitted, we enjoyed taking Trail #6 to Sunset Point to hear the animals scampering through the forest and to check out Sugar Creek where, in fairer weather, canoers and kayakers would be enjoying the creek and Rocky Hollow-Falls Canyon Nature Preserve.  On the walk to Sunset Point, we passed by the 1848 Lieber  cabin, the oldest of virgin timber in Indiana.  This historic cabin was moved to the state park in 1918 by Colonel Richard Lieber, the “father of Indiana’s state parks.”  On the way back from Sunset Point, we walk by the 1871 log church, moved to the park location in 1923; nondenominational services are still held at this old log church.

                The fourteen miles of hiking trails throughout the state park are rated “easy” to “rugged.”  One of the easier trails is #1 which is one of the hiking trails that leads to the 1882 Narrows Covered Bridge.  We took this trail numerous times to visit the covered bridge.  Of course, when I was younger, my family and I or friends and I took the seventy steps down to the suspension bridge, also known as the “swinging bridge” because it did swing, over Sugar Creek.  On the other side of the bridge, on the other side of the canyon were the sandstone cliffs and more hiking trails.  Naturally, we delighted in hiking the rugged Trail #3.

                You may be wondering why this state park was named “Turkey Run.”  Of the few legends associated with this park name, the most likely reason was that the then plentiful wild turkeys huddled in the warmer canyons for the warmth.  Pioneer hunters found the turkeys easy to harvest in these runs.  Since going to the park from early childhood, I have never seen or otherwise encountered a wild turkey at Turkey Run State Park; nevertheless, I do know that the turkey population has once again increased—even in the city of Milwaukee and its surrounding suburbs.  Although turkeys have been spotted in the areas where my Leader Dog Willow and I walk in Milwaukee’s East Town, we, to my knowledge, have never yet met a turkey in our path.

                Besides Thanksgiving, my family and I have many happy memories of celebrations and other gatherings at this state park which is only about 45 minutes from my Blanford home town.  Although I have visited Turkey Run with my first three Leader Dogs Keller, Heather, and Zoe—Willow and I have not yet walked on a trail of Turkey Run State Park.  I still hope we will someday.

                Not only do I have mugs, post cards, and note cards from the Turkey Run gift shop–I have, on one of my living room’s walls, a unique oil painting of a covered bridge.  In 2011, when I was at Turkey Run to celebrate my retirement from teaching, I purchased this oil painting. 

                At each Thanksgiving, Turkey Run State Park comes to my mind with an abundance of happy memories.  (NOTE:  On the internet, you can find photographs and more details of Turkey Run State Park.)

Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving weekend!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

November 24, 2022, Thursday


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  1. Happy Thanksgiving weekend, Alice. I always like to take a little trip down memory lane with you into Indiana. My daughter, Ilsa, lives in the area of Kentucky where Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky merge. I liked your description of the state park and the many ways that people can interact with nature in such places.

    • Good morning, Lynda–So very nice to hear from you this morning! I hope
      that you and your family are enjoying this Thanksgiving weekend. 
      Concerning my blog post, I realized that I forgot to mention the Nature
      Center at Turkey Run State Park.  With all of its displays, interactive
      exhibits, huge window for bird watching, and some educational
      programs–the Nature Center is a very worthwhile point of interest at
      the park.  Our mutual friend from the Grand Rapids area would enjoy the
      tandem bike rentals at the park.

      Thanksgiving blessings to you and yours–Alice and Leader Dog Willow

  2. Susan McKendry permalink

    Alice, I hope you and Willow had a nice Thanksgiving. We can verify your statement about the increase in the wild turkey population. In the 32 years we have lived here we have seen that increase. Our golf cart doesn’t get startled like our horses used to when we crest a hill so we can just enjoy the graceful flight of the surprised birds. Always interesting to see the well-behaved youngsters silently following the adults without hesitation.

    Sounds like Turkey Run State Park is a very good place to celebrate Thanksgiving.

    • Hi, Sue–Thanks for sharing your “turkey talk” about the turkey
      population on your farm–a very good addition to this blog post. Yes,
      Willow and I enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving and an especially nice morning
      today.  I am grateful for the clear sidewalks and relatively pleasant

      Enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend–Alice and Willow

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