Falls of the Ohio State Park

Local park offers summer fun
and education for entire family

Debra Maylum
Staff Writer

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (June 2005) – The Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville, Ind., is famous around the world for the 400-million-year-old fossil beds found at the Ohio River banks. Formed beneath a shallow inland sea millions of years ago, these fossil beds have only been exposed by the Ohio River in the last million years.

Falls of the Ohio

Photo by Don Ward

The Clarksville, Ind., park
is famous for its rare fossil beds.

“Most visitors are amazed to find out that this was under a salt water sea,” said Bett Etonohan, interpretive naturalist at the Falls of the State Park. Over millions of years, the land mass was elevated and the sea dissipated. Later, as the Ohio River carved out its route, the ancient fossils slowly became visible. Today, visitors have come from every continent except Antarctica to view the one-of-a-kind remains.
The 220-acre limestone bed is unique for its size and the fact that one can walk over a single layer on the ancient ocean floor for several acres. The unusual phenomenon is comparable to walking on a dry ocean bottom today.
When it is too cold outside to take the family hiking and exploring at the park, there is a place where the wonders of the outdoors come inside. The Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center houses a number of exhibits relating to sites at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.
The tropical sea exhibit replicates the creatures that are now fossilized in the limestone beds.

Falls of the Ohio View

Photo by Don Ward

Visitors can watch a movie,
tour the museum and
get a great view of the Ohio River.

When guests walk through the exhibits, they are in a sense walking through time, said Etonohan. Visitors are taken back 400 million years and through full-sized exhibits and historical artifacts. They travel through the Devonian-era plant and fish life, the Ice Age, Native American culture, European explorers, various habitats, an exhibit of naturalist John James Audubon’s work, and the birth of the Falls Cities.
In the center’s auditorium, guests can view the changes at the Falls over the last 400 million years. In a half-million-dollar, award-winning production, viewers are transported to the Falls area of the past and present.
New in January and February was the “Day in the Life of George Rogers Clark” exhibit. The cabin home of the revolutionary war hero was been moved indoors for cold weather viewing. All of the artifacts from the cabin are normally put into storage during the winter when visitors do not go to the cabin.

Sun Circle Celebration

• 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 17-18, at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.
• 201 W. Riverside Dr., Clarksville
• Event will feature Native American artists, craftsmen, musicians, and storytellers all demonstrating their skills and selling quality handmade items. New crafts this year include wood carving, quiltwork, leatherwork, pottery and blowguns. Tony Nava will be demonstrating the Native American flute.
• There is no entrance fee for activities on the park grounds. Admission to the Interpretive Center is $1 for ages 2-18; $4 for adults.
• (812) 280-9970

This year, however, officials decided to bring the artifacts in and recreated the cabin in the Interpretive Centers temporary exhibit room.
The room was made to look like a cabin and along with the artifacts will offer visitors a glimpse into what life was like in the early 1800s.
Now that it is warmer outside, the parks many outdoor activities are open for public enjoyment.

• The Falls of the Ohio State Park is located at 201 W. Riverside Dr., Clarksville, IN. Admission to the Interpretive Center is $4 adults; $1 under 19. Call (812) 280-9970 or visit: www.fallsoftheohio.org.

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