Spring Mill State Park: Fun for the Whole Family
Spring Mill State Park truly offers something for the entire family. The park hosts a pioneer village, a working grist mill, a cave boat tour, a nature center, an old-time cemetery, and a memorial for Gus Grissom.
See? I told you it had something for everyone. Let's take a closer look, shall we? And yes, there are plenty of pictures.
Image Credits: Unless otherwise noted all images property of Belinda342
History in Action
The original village in the heart of the park was founded in 1814. Pioneers realized that the location was ideal for a small industrial town. Why? Because there was free flowing water from several area caves.
This cave water was important to their way of life, because it never froze...not even in the coldest of winter. This meant that their businesses could run all year round, unlike many other towns. The original village boasted several grist mills, a saw mill, a wool mill, and a distillery. Today, only the grist mill remains in function. Want the freshest corn meal you've ever seen? You can buy it here--and watch it being made, too.
This restored village offers 20 historic buildings and "shops" to explore. These are manned by Heritage interpreters that dress and play the part of the town's original dwellers. Want to know how the early settlers used a loom to make rugs? Or how leather was worked into clothing and shoes? A visit to the pioneer village can answer these questions and many more.
The village is open daily from May through the middle of October from 9:00 to 5:00. Oh, and the very best part? It's all free with admission to the park.
More Than Just the Grist Mill
Did you know that Indiana has 25 state parks? We do. And each one of them is well worth a visit!
Most of the caves in Indiana State Parks have been shut down to the public for years now. This is due to something called the White-Nosed Syndrome which is killing bats. The Twin Cave boat tour is one of the few options left to actually get inside of a park cave.
And of course, it's way cool, too--after all you're in a boat while you tour the cave!
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain by user Sjh123
A Tribute to Virgil "Gus" Grissom
Gus Grissom was a native of Mitchell, Indiana--the town that boasts Spring Mill State Park. As a tribute to this great astronaut a memorial museum was built inside the park.
Among the exhibits you will see one of the actual space capsules Grissom flew in, his space suit, and a collection of things from both his personal and professional life.
Want to learn more about Gus Grissom's life and activities in space? There's a short documentary that airs regularly at the memorial too. It merits a watch.
The memorial is open daily year round, except for major holidays. The hours are from 8:30 to 4. Again, this one is free with park admission.
For the Outdoors Person
As with most state parks, Spring Mill offers camping too. You can choose between primitive camping or sites with electricity.
They have a fantastic trail system too, with 8 trails to choose from, ranging from easy to rugged. One thing, though, if you really want to do the outdoors right (not to mention safely) you really need a good hiking stick. Besides, it makes you look like you really belong in the woods, doesn't it?
Plus, they've just come out with the neatest type of souvenir I think I've ever seen. The walking stick medallion. You pick up these medallions from all the parks and places you travel to and add them to your stick. Viola, your stick becomes a visual memory of all your great hikes!
Of course, you need a good stick to start with...
A couple of really neat things about this stick. 1) It has a howling wolf's head carved at the top, and 2) It is equipped with both a rubber and metal tip. Need extra traction for hiking uphill? Take off the rubber tip and dig in!
The top of this 60" walking stick is a beautifully carved eagle's head. It, too, has the dual tips. The metal tip is great for when you need more traction...like on ice.
This hiking stick is decorated with paw prints and includes a very handy strap.
A special hiking stick--sized just right for children!
If you come to Indiana--be sure to add an Indiana medallion to your stick!