Vacation reading

A long-anticipated weekend vacation  in New Harmony, Indiana, site of two early-19th century intentional communities, was made all the more thrilling by a trio of books. 

For background, we took along New Harmony Then and Now, a portfolio of artful photography by Darryl Jones with an essay by Donald Pitzer on the history of the place.

Anticipating some time to read for pleasure, I also brought Eric Sandweiss’s newly published book, The Day in Its Color, about salesman-turned-photographer Charles Cushman–who turns out to have been a native of Poseyville, less than ten miles from New Harmony. Sandweiss’s evocative descriptions of the area in which Cushman grew up enabled me to see that sparsely populated corner of the Hoosier state with new eyes.

The Wabash River seen across farm fields from New Harmony

Drama for the weekend was supplied by Edith Sarra’s essay about the Patoka Bottoms, which will appear in an edited volume on historic preservation to be published in the autumn of 2013 by the Indiana University Press. (Sorry; this book is not yet available.) It’s a ghost story of sorts, filled with mystery and adventure. On our way home Mark and I spotted, to our great excitement, the historical marker Sarra mentions in her essay. It stands at the point where State Road 57 crosses the southern Indiana portion of the Wabash and Erie Canal, that mid-19th-century aqueduct,  now defunct, built at monumental cost–not just in dollars, but in workers’ lives.

View down the north side of the embankment

Mark stands in a section of the Wabash and Erie Canal bed, now long dry, which was elevated above the Patoka River bottoms

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