old bicycleAsher had a Cub Scout outing last week at a little by-gone era “settlement” called Solitude in Indiana. It’s actually just minutes from our house and I drive past it everyday but had never stopped to check it out. It is privately owned by a Mr. King (a retired history teacher), so I was just as excited to see it as he was. It is called Solitude Old Pioneer Village.

old carriage buggy

Mr. King has built all but one building himself. The church below holds an old pump organ from the 1880’s. The church has service in it a couple times a year and there have been wedding ceremonies conducted in it.inside of church in Solitude, IndianaTurns out it has some history like having Abraham Lincoln stopping by and also his vice president, Andrew Johnson, who became president after Lincoln was assassinated. Charlie Daniels, the country music star, stopped by once on his bus during a tour. There was also a famous ball player but I can’t for the life of me remember his name. Maybe Carl something. The town is right along side of Big Creek and there was a rail road stop there in the little town. So you could buy a ticket to anywhere in the US by train back then. It was owned by the Chicago & Eastern Illinois railroad.

Old Covered bridge on Old Plank Rd. razed 1926

Don Blair Copyright ©2007 University of Southern Indiana Library. All Rights Reserved. *poem about this bridge below

Above is a photo I found online of an old covered bridge crossing Big Creek near Solitude. I believe Mr. King told us they moved the bridge 4 times. This bridge was razed in 1926.

The rebuilt General Store in Solitude Indiana

Originally there was a post office, grist mill, a blacksmith and they had a church and a little general store that stayed open until the 1970’s, I think. That store is what attracted Charlie Daniels. I was told Mr. King has rebuilt all but one of the structures on the property and the one he didn’t is an original structure from somewhere in the county. I find local history fascinating and would love to have heard more, but with a bunch of young hungry cub scouts around and school the next day there is only so much time. I hope you’ve enjoyed my little history lesson of my neck of the woods and I hope I remembered it all correctly!

Grist Mill like structure in Solitude Indiana

If you would like to know a little more about what Mr. King has built there is a short article in the Evansville Courier online site here. Evansville is the biggest town close by.

Today was day 23 of 30 Days

UPDATE:

This poem was sent to me by Darlene Fisher, the granddaughter of Dan Duckworth in January of 2014. She told me the house, barn and buildings in the background of the old black and white photo (2nd above) of the covered bridge belonged to her grandfather. Darlene writes… “I left it exactly like his (he) had written it. Spelling and all. The is one reason I find it so interesting. Grandpa was 18 years old when he completed 8th grade at Smith School.”

I am so pleased to be able to share this poem. As a lover of history and old “anythings”, I find this poem, like the Pioneer Village Mr. King recreated, a physical and emotional link back to a lost time that few people recall ~ and it’s becoming fewer and fewer everyday. I don’t know that anyone but Mr. Duckworth’s family have ever had the pleasure of reading the poem, but I hope that many will be able to read it now and that it transports their minds and hearts to a simpler time. That it reminds them to take in their surroundings while they can. I’m optimistic people will cherish the physical world and we are all in together now and leave it in a desirable state for those that come after us.

Please enjoy… (and share!)

Poem written by Dan Duckworth around 1930

Blacks bridge near Solitude
Built in 1867 torn down 1930

In 1867 When the Civil War was ore
They built rock butments for a bridge
On Big Creeks mudy shore

They sunk them deep in either bank
They made them good and strong
To bare the weight of a heavy bridge
They knew not then how long

They could not go to steel plants then
And get long beams and rods
So they went to the virgin forest
And cut the trees into logs

For the bridge was to have a wooden frame
And stand there night and day
They covered it ore with a clapboard roof Les its timbers might decay

With yellow pouplar and white oak beans
They made it strong and good
It bore the trafick many a day
For 63 years has it stood

Our fathers with oxen to wagons and cars
With their gringing across it they came
Taking it down to the old water mill
That stood just down the stream

Lads and lassies riding on horse
And with horses to bugies they rode
The old steam engin with thresher came by
Over this bridge and road

Then the automobile with its horn and light
Came by at a rapid gate
And the state taking over this once plank road
Declared the bridge out of date

So they put in a fill and straightened the road
That the ford might have a strait run

And the bridge being left on a curve cut off
So now they have torn it down

W. T. Washer built this bridge
A workman skilled in his day
The bridge like its builder has served its time
And has come to the end of the way.

written by Dan Duckworth
©Dan Duckworth estate

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