Turkey Run State Park

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Turkey Run State Park
Turkey Run SP, IN 4.jpg
Turkey Run State Park is located in Indiana
Turkey Run State Park
Map of the local area
TypeState park
LocationParke County, Indiana, USA
Nearest cityMarshall, Indiana
Coordinates39°53.1′N 87°12.2′W / 39.8850°N 87.2033°W / 39.8850; -87.2033Coordinates: 39°53.1′N 87°12.2′W / 39.8850°N 87.2033°W / 39.8850; -87.2033
Area2,382 acres (964 ha)
Operated byIndiana Department of Natural Resources
WebsiteOfficial Website

Turkey Run State Park is an Indiana state park located in Parke County, Indiana, in the west-central part of the state on State Road 47 2 miles (3.2 km) east of U.S. 41. It was Indiana's second state park, with the first parcel of land being purchased in 1916 at the cost of $40,200 when the State Park system was first established during the Indiana state centennial.[1] It hosts the Turkey Run Inn, built in 1919. The origin of the name "Turkey Run" is unknown but the most accepted theory is that wild turkeys would congregate in the gorges (or "runs") for warmth where early settlers in the area would trap them in dead-end gorges and hunt them with ease. The park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2019.

Map of the local area


The heart of Turkey Run was owned by the Lusk family until 1915. The State Park Commission, run by Richard Lieber, had acquired $20,000 for the purchase of the area, but the Hoosier Veneer lumber company acquired it for $30,000. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway gave the commission enough money to buy the land from the lumber company for over $40,000.[2]


Turkey Run State Park is located about 5 miles (8.0 km) southwest of Shades State Park. Both parks are located along Sugar Creek, and both feature the gorge system formed by the drainage of the creek as it cuts down through sandstone bedrock. Mansfield sandstone is the specific type seen at Turkey Run, named after Mansfield, Indiana. This makes the two parks all the more interesting, since travel to them crosses a flat glacial till plain, and suddenly the traveler enters the gorge system. The Punchbowl on Trail 3 is an example of a pothole that was scoured out by glacial erratics caught in swirling backwash. [3]


Ladders of Trail 3

A system of trails offers hikers plenty of outing opportunities during the summer months when the drainage is relatively free of water, and the suspension footbridge across Sugar Creek, the main drainage for both parks, provides access to trails on the far side. Trail 3 is particularly noted for its ruggedness, including ladders and narrow but deep gorges. Floating down Sugar Creek through the park in either inner tubes, canoes, or kayaks is very popular in the summer months. There are 3-mile (4.8 km), 8-mile (13 km), or even 11-to-15-mile (18 to 24 km) trips down Sugar Creek. Also, in the spring when heavy rains and snow melt flood the narrow gorges, many more adventurous hikers will go "creek stomping" through the narrow gorges. However, the fast moving current, steep gorge walls, and unpredictable contours of the creek beds make this activity dangerous if the water level is high.

Park Geology[edit]

Sandstone gorges are a common sight at Turkey Run

The major features of the park are formed from erosion in Mansfield sandstone from the Mansfield formation.[4] This formation was deposited during the Carboniferous period at the mouth of the ancient where sediments collected and compacted. This swampy environment formed many coal deposits which were mined in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collapsed entrance to a coal mine is still a major feature of the park.

During the Pleistocene Epoch the Mansfield sandstone bedrock was carved into the current distinct formations by glacial meltwaters and their associated erosion. Turkey Run features many common features of glaciation, including glacial erratics, till, and scoured canyons from erosion by melting glacial waters.

Rocky Hollow Falls Canyon Nature Preserve[edit]

Rocky Hollow Nature Preserve

The Rocky Hollow Falls Canyon Nature Preserve is a series of canyons cut into the sandstone. Rocky Hollow is the longest and Falls Canyon has the only existing waterfall (seasonal) in the park. There are six designated trails through the preserve, each with its own unique micro-climate. Depending on the season, these trails may be impassable or muddy, or refreshing on a hot afternoon.[5]

Rocky Hollow begins at 680 feet (210 m) above sea level on the northeast border of the park (County Road 280E) and drops to 540 feet (160 m) at Sugar Creek just above the swinging bridge. Boars Hollow and Falls Canyon drop a similar distance but in half or a third (respectively) of the length. The preserve was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974.[6]

Lusk Home and Mill Site[edit]

There are two sites within the park which are on the National Register of Historic Places. The first was the Lusk Home and Mill Site. The initial area for Turkey Run developed around this home.

Lieber Log Cabin[edit]

Richard Lieber Log Cabin
Turkey Run State Park is located in Parke County, Indiana
Turkey Run State Park
Turkey Run State Park is located in Indiana
Turkey Run State Park
Turkey Run State Park is located in the United States
Turkey Run State Park
LocationMarshall, Indiana
Coordinates39°53′4.24″N 87°12′24.37″W / 39.8845111°N 87.2067694°W / 39.8845111; -87.2067694
ArchitectGay, Daniel; Lieber, Richard
Architectural styleOther
NRHP reference #01000403[7]
Added to NRHPMay 4, 2001
Lieber Cabin, Turkey Run State Park

The second Turkey Run locale on the National Register is the Richard Lieber Log Cabin. It was built in 1848 from the native tulip trees, the oldest of its kind in Indiana.[8] It is named in honor of Colonel Richard Lieber, the first director of the Indiana State Parks system and the man who instigated Indiana's creation of its park system. During a thunderstorm in 1918 he discovered the house. He liked it immediately, and convinced the owner to have it moved 3 miles (4.8 km) so it could serve as the administration building for the state park. All but the chimney was salvageable. Fortunately, an elderly man familiar with the chimney's "cat and clay" style gave directions for making a new one, using stone from an old bridge. The supports were originally of butternut, but are now of sassafras. The cabin is now used as a museum honoring Lieber and the entire Indiana state park system.[9] Lieber died in 1944 and his ashes were buried within the park.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Official (Indiana) DNR Historical Timeline Archived March 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Indiana and Indianans: A History of Aboriginal and Territorial Indiana and the Century of Statehood By Jacob Piatt Dunn pg.51.
  3. ^ "Indiana DNR: Turkey Run State Park". www.in.gov. Retrieved 2016-09-12.
  4. ^ "Mansfield Formation". Indiana Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-11-02.
  5. ^ Turkey Run State Park map, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
  6. ^ "Rocky Hollow-Falls Canyon Nature Preserve". nps.gov. National Park Service.
  7. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
  8. ^ [1] Archived March 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ My Indiana:101 Places to See, by Earl L. Conn (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006). pg.124-5.

External links[edit]