Trip Report for Wildcat Creek
Saturday, June 16, 2001
I live approximately
1/2 mile from a public access point on the Wildcat Creek. Therefore many
of my paddle trips are on this central Indiana waterway. In the past,
I have kayaked this creek from Greentown IN to Lafayette IN. (Approximately
70 miles) One section of the stream is my favorite. Beginning at Adams
Mill and ending at Knop Lake. This section holds much intrigue for me.
It is very scenic and abounds in wild life. We saw 6 deer, herons, turtles,
owls, and a species of lizard that was unrecognized on our most recent
trip. This section of stream also is the home to two covered bridges and
the longest railroad bridge in Indiana.
Our trip began
in the rustic little town of 'Bolivar'. This is the location of Adams
Mill. A dam is built across the
creek so as to supply water to the inland mill. This first section is
basically a large circle. It begins at the dam, in front of the mill,
and circles around the rear of the mill. In this section of creek is the
first covered bridge. This bridge was closed for many years. It was initially
closed to auto travel, but allowed motorcycle and pedestrian crossings.
Eventually, the bridge was closed to everyone. Crossing on foot was not
even tolerated. Funds were finally raised so as to allow for the remodeling.
Now the bridge is immaculate. It is suitable for automobile traffic again.
After the covered
bridge is a short railroad bridge that is abandoned. Next is the 75 bridge,
followed by 'no-bridge'. 'No bridge' is the location of a long since removed
county bridge. All that remains is the concrete that supported the bridge
across the wildcat. 'No bridge' is followed by a bridgeless section of
creek. A 5-mile, very scenic stretch of central Indiana waterway separates
'No Bridge' & 'Prince William' bridge. Prince William Bridge can also
be used as a public access point, although there are signs advising 'No
Trespassing'! There is a decent place to leave a vehicle and access is
After Prince William
Bridge, is the 2nd and last covered bridge remaining on the Wildcat. This
bridge is known as Lancaster Covered Bridge. This bridge was better maintained
than the first bridge, thus it remains more rustic and original. To the
best of my knowledge, Lancaster covered bridge has never been closed to
auto traffic for any extended periods of time.
The next bridge
is the most fantastic sight on the entire trip. It is the longest railroad
bridge in Indiana. Although the tracks have been totally removed, the
bridge still majestically rules this section of Wildcat. I have never
been able to find a date of construction on the structure, but would guess
it to have been built in the early 1900s. This bridge is so amazing that
I have never paddled under it without an extended stop. There is a rather
steep climb from the Wildcat to bridge level. I would guess the bridge
to be nearly 100 feet above the water. I am still astounded at the length
of this semi-ancient structure. I'd guess its length to be 300+ yards!!
It is rather intimidating to walk across this bridge. There are numerous
balconies built on the sides of the bridge. I've always assumed that these
were constructed for people on foot in the event of a train crossing.
Most of the balconies appear unsafe, but I have 'decompressed' for extended
periods of time on one. Some have completely fallen off the bridge. On
my last stop, I noticed that someone had set fire to the bridge. One of
the railroad ties had been completely burnt out of the bridge, thus damaging
some of the neighboring ties. It is such a shame to damage the coolest
landmark on the banks of the Wildcat.
Next is the IN
39 bridge, shortly followed by the 2nd ‘no bridge’. Next awaits the final
leg of the journey. This section is 4 miles in length and relatively easy
Finally, we find
ourselves at what used to be Knop Lake Public Access. This was a fantastic
little park about 20-30 minutes east of Lafayette. (By car) There is a
fishing lake with boat ramp, there used to be a men’s and ladies restroom,
but they were torn down this season. I believe that this fantastic site
is destined to become a housing addition. The access to the wildcat has
been blocked this year. A canoe or kayak can still be transported to the
creek, but someone has made it very difficult. For starters, 4 wooden
posts were set in the roadway with a large road closed sign. Next is a
metal gate with signs advising of trespassing. Next is a huge, purposely
downed tree blocking the lower portion of the drive.Finally, a 100’ of
metal cable has been stretched completely over the creek side access area
with no trespassing signs. So, to the best of my knowledge and observations,
Knop Lake Public access area in no longer for public access to the Wildcat
creek. All of the access signs are still posted, but so are many, many
no trespassing signs.
encourage anyone to try this section of the Wildcat. I have never seen
this section of creek completely blocked by obstructions, nor is it shallow
enough that getting out of your boat is necessary. It makes for a great
day with many photo opportunities.
If anyone has
additional information about the huge railroad bridge, I’d be very enthused
to see it. Pictures of any section of the Wildcat would also be very welcome.
Please e-mail me at eMaleNick@hotmail.com