Roadtrip: Province Park and Franklin Art Garden in Johnson County
Guest Roadtripper and history enthusiast Chris Della Rocco seems to know all the cool historic parks in Central Indiana. Did you know that the recently screened Heartland Film Festival's film "Hellcat", a "returning to small town Indiana" independent movie filmed in Anderson, Indiana by Anderson University professor Jack Lugar, featured a river baptism scene featured in one of Chris's recent Roadtrip picks! The total immersion baptism was filmed in Shadyside Memorial Park, and the park is worth a visit in itself!
This Saturday Chris will take us to two adjacent small public spaces in Franklin, just south of the Johnson County Courthouse along Young's Creek. The first is the lovely Province Park, platted in the 1840s. The park features many walking paths and beautifully landscaped picnic areas. It has expanded throughout the years to include a large playground, a dog park, an Aquatic Center, and a skate park.
The park is well maintained and has many flowers and flowering bushes and shrubs along the walking paths, especially along the Franklin Greenway Trail and the picnic areas closest to S. Home Avenue. Chris tells us that you can also see projects from the 1930s Works Progress Administration (WPA) like the limestone Creekside Shelter House with fireplace, the original Gateposts off South Main Street, and an original wing wall of a former road bridge abutment that's now a pedestrian bridge crossing Young's Creek.
Adjacent to Province Park is the Franklin Art Garden, which was created in 2015 and is owned by Meg Jones and Richard Goss. Meg Jones has a background in horticulture and landscape design, and developed the garden with a grant from the City of Franklin and her own funds. It is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is free of charge. The Baltic Wheel Labyrinth in the garden was inspired by a hedge maze in New Harmony, Indiana. And the origami crane sculpture is by Franklin artist Gordon Strain.
Hoosier History Live looks back...
"Slaughterhouse and saw factory history in Indy"
Time to listen to a fun and creepy show from our Archives! Listen to the show podcast here of this Hoosier History Live show from October, 2022. We time-traveled to the late 19th and early 20th centuries when, as our guest puts it, "the city of Indianapolis had all the makings of a perfect horror movie set, the largest saw factory in the world, acres of stockyards and slaughterhouses, and the specter of ceilings dripping with something that appeared to be blood but on closer inspection would turn out to be catsup."
With the multiple slaughterhouses and pork-packing businesses, the king of the heap for about 100 years was unquestionably Kingan & Co., which had a five-story plant as part of a massive operation that encompassed 27 acres spanning both sides of the White River west of downtown Indy. Ironically, thousands of hogs once were slaughtered daily at the enterprise not far from the site today of the Indianapolis Zoo.
Also for about 100 years, Atkins & Co. Saws had the world's largest saw factory, which eventually employed more than 1,200 workers at the flagship plant in downtown Indianapolis. "With its trademark 'Atkins Always Ahead' slogan, the company was on the cutting edge of the saw industry," our guest, retired Indianapolis attorney Libby Cierzniak, has written in her blog Indypolitan.
During the 1870s, more than 500,000 hogs and 100,000 sheep and cattle were slaughtered in the city each year, according to newspaper accounts that Libby quotes in her blog. "In 1914, the city's pork packing industry employed 15,000 people at eight different packing houses," she writes. "And while Kingan's was the undisputed king, several other slaughterhouses also left their bloody mark on the city's history."
They include an enterprise run by an entrepreneur named Albert Worm who, Libby notes, "realized that consumers would likely reject a processed pork product labeled 'Worm Bacon'. So he adopted the 'Crown Brand' moniker for his growing product line and touted the cleanliness of his plant in advertisements."
Kingan's opened in 1863, eventually became the largest pork house in the world and finally shut down in 1966. It's been blamed by environmentalists for decades of pollution in White River, even while being innovative in the industry. During the 1920s, according to Libby's article, Kingan's "became the first meatpacker to sell sliced bacon".
Saws made by Atkins remain prized for their quality or as collectibles, even though the factory in Indy closed in the early 1960s. Founded in the mid-1800s by E.C. Atkins, the business "made saws for every conceivable purpose, from four-inch jeweler's saws to 75-foot long saws," our guest Libby Cierzniak has written. Libby is retired from the law firm of Faegre Drinker and is a former trustee of the Indiana Historical Society.
In a recent blog post, Libby wrote about Sellers Farm, which was derided as "Smeller's Farm". That's because the city purchased the 225-acre property from farmer Amos Sellers "to solve an increasingly odorous problem that was plaguing Indianapolis", as described in her article. The slaughterhouses and meat-packing industries "brought the smell of dead and decaying animals" to the Hoosier capital. The former farm became a dumping ground as well as the site of businesses that converted the animal remains into products such as fertilizer. Today, the southwest side area is near the site of the Indianapolis Wastewater Treatment plant. Enjoy your listen; and you can always visit our ARCHIVES on our website!
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