Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Falls of the Ohio Updates

I have volunteered at the Falls of the Ohio State Park for eight years, and love it. The park is not large as parks go, but there is always something new to be seen outside along the river.

The Interpretive Center at the Falls of the Ohio State Park opened in 1995, surviving a major flood only two years later when it became an island for a while, but the inside has not been updated since that time. School children remember the rotunda as the home of a mastodon skeleton and prehistoric fish.

Click on photo for a larger version
As an Indiana state park, there isn't a lot of money for building improvements, but the Falls of the Ohio Foundation is there to save the day. Their Crossroads Campaign is raising money to entirely re-vamp and update the exhibits inside the building to be more interactive. The first step is to re-design the rotunda making it more open.  Many of the creatures that used to take up the center have been moved to other locations, and the mastodon is now the entrance to the auditorium.
Glass sculptures hang from the ceiling, and the introductory movie is being revised. The new exhibit design will replace current exhibits with state-of-the-art immersive experiences emphasizing four key themes of the region’s scientific, cultural, and natural history, and strengthen the connection between the Interpretive Center and the outside fossil beds.
The entrance to the Interpretive Center has always been at the front of the building, facing the road. But the parking lot is in the rear, and visitors grumble a bit at having to walk all the way around the building to reach the entrance (especially when they just need the restrooms really fast).  Part of the renovation will move the entrance closer to the parking lot. Given time and money, it will be exciting to watch the developments come to life.

Of course getting there is more of a challenge than it was a few weeks ago.  Louisville has three bridges crossing the river - two are for the major interstates, and the third is more for local traffic only. The bridge for I-64 going into New Albany has been closed indefinitely due to major cracks in the structure built in 1962. The newspaper article quoted one of the inspectors as saying he wouldn't let his family drive across it!  Proposals to build a new bridge, or bridges, at Louisville have been kicked around for about 20 years, without any success.

 The I-65 bridge took years just to re-paint and cost more than the original construction. So now all the traffic on two major interstates must be routed across that one bridge, and rush hour is taking over two hours for commuters. But at least no one ended up falling into the river on a collapsing bridge. We did a raptor program at the park near the Kennedy Bridge, and inspectors were walking across the top to make sure it can handle the extra load.  You couldn't pay me enough money to do that!

1 comment:

NCmountainwoman said...

That sculpture just has to be a Dale Chihuly. How fortunate to have...such a wonderous sight to behold.