Our Land of Many Waters
Our district is filled with waters, which, like all things, diverge and converge. Due to our relative elevation, waters collect into streams and rivers here, and leave our district rather than enter it. Our part of Indiana was well-described in the 1857 Henry County Atlas as “...inclined to be wet” and in the 1884 Henry County Atlas, “The land is watered by numerous streams which flow toward all points of the compass….”
Big Blue River (often unfortunately shortened to simply “Blue River” in common use - which is a shame) runs for about 84 miles from northeast to southwest across Indiana. Its source is now technically the discharge from the dam at Summit Lake, at 40⁰ 01’ 26.79” north, and 85⁰ 19’ 35.70 west. At this source, in normal weather, the river is about 5 feet wide.
If you went all the way back to the easternmost source before Summit Lake was built - which has been described as having been a “a powerful bubbling spring” (artesian wells are still common throughout our district) somewhere in the Summit Lake area - it could add a bit to the river’s length. But if you examine historical maps and documents, the accepted source of Big Blue River is a small creek rising at about 1100 feet above sea level which starts southeast of the intersection of Hwy 36 and CR 500 east, in Blue River Township, about 2 miles due east of our campus. Using this source, you add 4.5 miles to the length of the river from the Summit Lake dam. Big Blue River then flows west from the dam and then flows south through the bed of the Blue River Valley - a valley that predates the current river.
The Flatrock River runs for about 98 miles from northeast to southwest across Indiana. Its source is a ditch at 40⁰ 00’ 13.08” north, and 85⁰ 14’ 48.08” west, rising at about 1130 feet above sea level. This is the ditch that runs beneath Highway 36 about a quarter of a mile east of North Broad Street in Mooreland, only 2 miles from the source of the Big Blue River. Near Shelbyville, some 40 miles downstream, these two rivers are nearly 17 miles apart, and then begin to come together again.
Other local waterways include Sugar Creek, which runs from a ditch near where Raider Road intersects Highway 38, about 10 miles southwest of our campus, and runs for about 83 miles, and ends near Edinburgh, and nearby Fall Creek which starts as a ditch between Honey Creek and Sulphur Springs, and flows for almost 60 miles through Henry, Madison and Hamilton before entering Geist Reservoir - and then exiting Geist Reservoir - in Marion County, continues until it enters the White River at the White Water Parkway.
Buck Creek begins as a drainage ditch and creek bed just southeast of Buck Creek Church on Buck Creek Pike. It flows north, just barely curving into Delaware County - actually coming within 5 miles of White River - but then it it comes back into far northern Henry County - and our district - and then into the the Blue River Valley above the big northern bend. It flows west and then north for another 20 miles as it is joined by the Little Buck Creek (which begins southwest of Mt. Summit and flows through Springport) at Luray. It then flows northwesterly until it joins the White River at Yorktown. What is commonly called the “White River” in East-central Indiana is technically the “West Fork of the White River”, the formerly-named “Opeecomecah” or “Wapahani” River, which runs for over 300 miles.
But all of these waters, after departing from our district, do all come together again.
About 70 miles southwest of here, just west of Edinburgh and a few miles north of Columbus, Big Blue River joins Sugar Creek and becomes the Driftwood River. The Driftwood River then joins the Flatrock River just west of Columbus, and then the river becomes the “East Fork of the White River.” The East Fork then runs southwesterly for almost 200 miles - all over the place and in every direction, to join the West Fork of the White River near Petersburg, and from there flows westerly to join the Wabash River at Mt Carmel, Illinois, where the two rivers are each about 500 feet wide, combine into a river now 1000 feet wide, and then flow south into the Ohio River.
As an aside, in the extreme southeastern part of our District, White Branch Creek very quickly departs our district and county and joins Nettle Creek near Dalton Road in Wayne County, which flows into the Whitewater River which rises near Modoc and flows through Hagerstown, Cambridge City, Brookville, crosses into Ohio south of I-74, and then into the Great Miami River and the Ohio River near the I-275 bridge.
Truly, a region of “numerous streams which flow toward all points of the compass"…. and Big Blue River is our own.