Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday photo

Chain-O-Lakes State Park, Albion, Indiana. July 2010.

Chain-O-Lake State Park is a charming little spot - just one mile by four - on the western edge of the former Great Black Swamp (itself the half-dried remnants of the ancestor to Lake Erie) and just on the other side of the continental divide between the St. Lawrence and Mississippi River sytems. The heart of the park is the eight small lakes that connect end to end to one another by a single narrow river channel, all surrounded by wonderful hardwood forests.

Both the lakes and the channel are remnants of a prior episode in global warming at the end of the Pleistocene, when the most recent wave of glaciers melted away. The glaciers "retreated," but the meltwater advanced, at least once with a sudden enough rush to carve out the shallow canyon that connects the lakes. The lakes themselves formed underneath huge blocks of ice that calved off the glacier's face, so-called "kettle" lakes.

Chain-O-Lakes contrasts with the farmland outside the park, a reminder of how heavily engineered the Hoosier landscape really is. Flat land doesn't drain readily at all and Indiana held a vast amount of forested swampland, which had to be both cleared and drained before it was suitable for planting. Geologically, the glaciers were very recent; but even in historical terms, those forests and swamps were here just yesterday. My home state is an unnatural place, but in a few of the state parks you can still glimpse its history. The Miamis wouldn't know the place.

The best way to explore Chain-O-Lakes (and don't worry, it won't take you all day) is by canoe, although you can hike some ten miles of trails. My brother and I went out on Saturday morning and, alas, I neglected the camera and didn't get any photos of the two mute swans that were feeding on Rivir Lake. Instead, I took the land tour on Sunday morning and settled for this photo of the connector between Bowen Lake and Dock Lake.


James Hanley said...

I enjoy the commentary you give on your photos. They're something like your natural history of a bison horn, on a smaller scale.

Scott Hanley said...

I keep thinking I should maybe go back and do more on the bison horn. It's a surprisingly rich topic.