Bob Deckard demonstrates chair caning

A Spring Weekend at Spring Mill State Park
by Carolyn Rahe

“It just doesn’t get any better than this.” Okay, I’ve said it before, but I said it again on April 21st when the weather, the scenery and the blooming of dogwoods and redbuds all came together to create a perfect day at Spring Mill State Park.

We had been invited to the “Spring Workshop”, one of the park’s workshops held each spring and fall. It would be a chance to go to some programs that sounded interesting, like “Building a Log Cabin”, “Chair Caning”, “Genealogy Workshop”, and even “Fiddle Making”.

Originally offered for the volunteers and staff of Spring Mill, the workshops are now open to the public, and seem to be well-received. The workshops were held throughout Pioneer Village, a permanent feature of the park where log cabins, a village store, blacksmith and an operating water-powered grist mill are clustered. If you missed this workshop, you can keep up with what’s going on at Spring Mill by checking a web site put together by Park Historian, David Williams.

About Spring Mill State Park
What was once an actual village and mill is now a state park. In 1832 the Hamer brothers took ownership of the village. At that time it became known as Spring Mill. Nearly 100 years later the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) undertook a repair and reconstruction project, and also added a lake, shelters, roads and trails.

The rest of the park revolves around the natural wonders that abound in Lawrence County: caves, waterfalls, and trails through an untimbered woods.

A trail through Donaldson Woods

Natural Attractions
Donaldson Woods is named after George Donaldson, who purchased a tract of forest in 1865 and did not allow any hunting or timber cutting. Because of his stewardship some trees in this area are over 300 years old. A sign along a hiking trail says, “Donaldson’s lifestyle may have seemed unusual to some, for he was known to buy property solely for its beauty and unique characteristics. His wish was that nothing be disturbed, not a butterfly caught, not a twig broken.”

The Caves of Spring Mill
The topography of this area of the state is unique, with its underground streams, caves and sinkholes. Donaldson Cave, one of at least three caves within the park, is where the northern blind cave fish was discovered, a now endangered species that has no eyes. Twin Caves was named after two sink holes collapsed to expose this cave in two places. Boat rides into Twin Caves are given from April through October, conditions permitting. The boat goes 500 feet into the cave then turns around. To learn more about the unique geology of the area read a past article on Lawrence County.

Other Activities
Spring Mill State Park is perfect for outdoor lovers. There are miles of well-marked hiking trails, a saddle barn where trail rides are offered, swimming, boating, fishing and camping. An interpretive naturalist service is available all year, and one naturalist even helped identify some of the flowers photographed for our Virtual Wildflower Walk.

Behind the Grist Mill, this trough carries water to power the wheel.

The Grissom Memorial pays tribute to Gus Grissom, a native of nearby Mitchell, Indiana who was America’s second man in space. For a comfortable stay, the Spring Mill Inn attracts visitors year-round. The inn itself is made of native limestone and was built between 1937 and 1939. There is also an indoor/outdoor pool at the inn.

Spring Mill State Park is another reason to love Southern Indiana. Whether it’s learning about Indiana’s pioneer past, or taking in nature’s wonders that draws you to Spring Mill, you’ll be glad you visited.

For information on Lawrence County see or call 800-798-0769. For information on Spring Mill State Park, call 812-849-4129 or see Historian Dave Williams’ web site on Spring Mill see

All Feature Articles, artwork and photographs ©2001 by Dervish Design. Some information on the 'County Info' pages is taken directly from brochures published by Visitors Bureaus and Chambers of Commerce.