Fire Tower Restoration
In 2014, park staff and Friends of McCormicks Creek decided to raise funds to rehabilitate the CCC fire tower that was originally constructed in 1935. With the support of grants and over 200 local donors, over $100,000 was raised to rehab the structure and make the cabin accessible to the public for the first time in decades.
To protect the restoration efforts, the State of Indiana funded construction of a plaza around the base of the tower. That work was completed earlier this month by Kilbride and Sons, the same contractors who restored the tower.
The tower was officially listed on the National Historic Lookout Register on November 12, 2008.
The fire tower is open to the public from 9 a.m. to sunset March through November. From December through February, the tower will be open only during interpretive programs.
Peden Farmstead Restoration
For a few years the Friends of McCormicks Creek State Park have been working to clear and make accessible the site of the old Peden Farmstead. A self-interpreting section has been added to Trail #9, which takes hikers around the old homestead area. A section of the exhibit at the Nature Center contains pictures and written descriptions of the site and the families associated with it.
A bit of history
On September 20, 1816, John McCormick, a Scotch-Irish immigrant, purchased 452 acres of land that now make up a portion of McCormick’s Creek State Park. His daughter Nancy and her husband Jesse Peden took ownership of the land which is now known as the Peden Farm.
The acreage owned and farmed was substantial for its time, even for the seventeen horses and mules that worked it. Although historic records disagree as to the actual size of the farm, compared to other farms in the community this was big.
The area once occupied by the farm is now the Nature Center, Redbud Shelter, and the Deer Run Shelter area.
The Peden family is responsible for the naming of our cave, “Wolf Cave.” One version of the legend says that Nancy was doing laundry in the creek and walked by the cave on her way home. A pack of wolves emerged from the cave and started to chase her. As she ran away, Nancy periodically dropped pieces of laundry to distract the wolves. Nancy reached the safety of her home just after dropping the last piece of clothing.
An alternate version of the legend claims that Nancy Peden was returning from a trip to Spencer on the ferry (this was possibly the Shirley Ferry, which crossed the White River halfway between Spencer and Gosport). She was chased by gray timber wolves on the way home. A wolf chased her into the old log barn, but Nancy escaped when the wolf was unable to jump over the gate.
The foundations that can be seen today are actually from the second barn built by the Pedens. The original log barn, destroyed by fire, was rebuilt in 1857 using hickory timbers 64 feet in length. Stonework for this new barn was done by an English mason using limestone quarried nearby.
When the Pedens lived here, the springhouse would have been used much like we use a refrigerator today. Cool water running through the bottom of the spring house kept milk, butter, and eggs 20 – 40 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. Imagine what a cool, dark spot this must have been to visit on a hot, humid summer day!
The Friends group was instrumental in raising funds and contributing to the manual labor of restoring the springhouse to its original state and functionality.
Little is known about the house, which burned down in the early 1900s. No known photographs or written records exist documenting its size or appearance. Today, only the cellar remains of what was once the center of home life on a bustling farm