Split Rock


The approach of summer and the season for out-of-door enjoyment brings to mind the pleasure trips of last year. During the hot summer months the banks of the Ohio, north and south of Cincinnati, are lined with white tents of campers. Some spend the entire summer in this way, preferring the cool breezes off the river to the intense heat of the crowded city. The picturesque scenery along the valley of this broad river cannot be surpassed. The inspiring beauty of the Hudson has been the recipient of numerous glowing tributes from various pens. But those who have marveled at the scenic Hudson and have been amazed by the refreshing beauty of the Ohio River Valley are as enthusiastic over one as the other. The greatest evidence that the romantic beauty of the valley is appreciated is shown by the number of outing parties encamped on the shores in summer. About two hours journey from Cincinnati by boat on the Kentucky side is a most remarkable phenomenon known as Split Rock. The fame of this place is spreading. IT is part of the country John Uri Lloyd made prominent in his novel, Warwick of the Knobs. As the boat, swinging around the long bend just below Aurora, Indiana, brings the ridge of Kentucky hills into view, a huge boulder at the water's edge attracts the attention. Drawing nearer it is seen that the rock is in two sections and is split from top to bottom; thus the name Split Rock. About 50 yards back from the river the cliff rises abruptly to a height of 100 feet, and between the cliff and the river are many gigantic boulders; some heaped together and some isolated. These boulders are all of glacial origin. From a geological standpoint these huge formations deposited here are of interest in that they mark the southern terminal of the Arctic moraine. The course of this glacier can be traced imperfectly down the Whitewater Valley from Brookville to Homestead, Indiana, where the outcroppings of this conglomerated rock cease and are covered by the drift which forms the ridge on which is built the town of Greendale. Thence it takes its course southward and is next visible in the peculiar deposits at Split Rock. Against these high knobs of Kentucky hills the Arctic glaciers spent their energies and transformed the country into a place of wonders. For the camper Split Rock offers every natural advantage. Fishing is too good to be tiresome, and this is his main occupation. Never failing springs supply water as clear as crystal and cool as ice. The naturalist finds enough here to satiate his rarest interest. The formations are the final deposits of the terminal moraine, but when they were deposited they were intact to a great extent. At least the largest rock, for which the place was named, was once without a split. According to Mother Alloway, whose reminiscences of pioneer times are generally accepted as authentic, the wonders of this place were caused by the severe earthquake of 1812; when its land was rolled about until, as Mother Alloway, who witnessed it, said, "The trees whipped each other and beat each other's limbs off." This same quake of the earth made Reelfoot Lake. The huge boulders and gravel brought down by glaciers from the North overlie the native soil; while above the bases of the knobs, in the sands probably washed there by an ancient ocean, have been discovered great beds of coprolites, some of enormous size, mutely telling of gigantic reptilian life of some prehistoric age. The mouth of Woolper Creek is close by, and along the bank of this small stream can be traced plainly the road made by buffaloes on their way to Big Bone Springs. This was the drinking place for buffalo, deer and such game, and the march to and fro was often intercepted by hunters lying in wait. The buffaloes would move down off the Indiana hills in herds and swim the river and thence to Big Bone. One of the most interesting parts of this wonderful country is Big Bone Springs. Originally the drinking place for wild animals, it became a health resort and drinking place for human beings. In the soft quagmires about the springs, huge bones of prehistoric animals have been dug out, proving that this land was once the home of the mastodon. These gigantic beasts were entrapped in the soft mud, where they perished, and then sunk slowly out of sight. It was no uncommon sight in pioneer days to see huge bones scattered about over the ground for some distance away from the springs. Forty years ago Bib Bone Springs seemed destined to become a famous place. A hotel was built containing about 40 rooms, and for some time the resort enjoyed prosperity, but the difficulty of access was against it. Today the place is only locally known. The water is sulphurous and saline and is said to possess medicinal qualities. There are several springs in this particular group which bear the name. One of them is walled up and is the only one in use at present. Another is allowed to bubble up out of the ground and collect in a large pool. This one is used for watering stock. It seems safe to predict that if this county is ever opened up by railroad or a traction line that Big Bone Springs will more than regain its lost prestige as a watering place. The propinquity of so many natural wonders would make it doubly interesting. Part of the pleasure in a camping sojourn at Split Rock is attained by the visit to Big Bone Springs, six miles back over the old buffalo road. There is evidence plentiful that these historic knobs and fertile bottomlands were the scenes of battlefields of the several Indian tribes living around. Mt. Pisgah, which overlooks Gunpowder Creek, is covered with graves, and the many battlefield burying places and cemeteries thereabout speak much that is withheld in the silence. John Uri Lloyd laid the scene of his novel in the heart of this country, and many persons have read the book and supposed the place, as well as the story, to be a creation of the imagination. There is no more real place in this country than this same region of knobs, boulders, springs, geological formations, and relics of times prehistoric. But the country has features of interest for the historian as well as the naturalist. Diagonally across the river from Split Rock is the mouth of Laughery Creek, where Colonel Laughery and his troops were massacred by a party of Indians lying in ambuscade. Colonel Laughery had descended the Ohio from Wheeling, West Virginia, with orders to overtake General George Rogers Clark at the mouth of the Great Miami. Clark was obliged to proceed on down the river on account of dissatisfaction among his men and left an order hanging in a conspicuous place for Laughery to join him at the Falls of the Ohio in Louisville. Colonel Laughery followed and selected the mouth of the creek now bearing his name as a convenient place to spend the night. His whole force landed and set about to prepare supper. While in the act of eating, the Indians swooped down on them and butchered 40 of the men. Colonel Laughery was one of the slain. The rest of them were carried away into captivity, and only one or two of them were ever heard of again. This engagement took place in the last year of the Revolutionary War and was the first conflict on record between the Indians and whites on the soil of Indiana. This battle was really one of the battles of the Revolution, as the Indians engaged in it were British allies.


From a 1904 article, not otherwise credited as to a source, or an author.