27-Apr-2012 -- As I was in the area to work with Murray State University on the implementation of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) throughout different schools and departments on campus, and as the incorporation of field work with GPS is an important component in all GIS work, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone. I know only a geographer would consider Indiana on the way from western Kentucky back to the St Louis airport, but to a geographer, everywhere is "on the way"!
En route, I took two conference calls at beautiful Lake Kentucky. Then I drove east and north out of Kentucky and into Evansville Indiana. I quickly realized the mistake of this, because of the traffic. I finally got out of town on the highway west to Mt Vernon, but only after nearly 40 minutes. At Mt Vernon, I turned northwest on Savah Road (Lower New Harmony Road). This was wonderfully hilly and winding, but very slow. Would I make it? I needed to get to St Louis to make my flight.
I drove west along Curtis Road to Wabash Road, and then south. The reason why I did this instead of continuing west to the lake as the previous visitor had done is that all of my research pointed to the confluence being south of the lake, and south of the trees on the south side of the lake. It appeared as though I could walk there from the south. One of my satellite images showed the entire area under water from the flooding Wabash River, a short distance to the west. As I rounded the bend, I was startled to find a whole crew working on the railroad bridge. I turned right, northwest, and then drove west on an unimproved dirt road. As I turned north from the east-week track to park at an oil pumping station, I noted a farmer with an enormous piece of equipment parking off to the south about 100 meters. I walked up to him and asked if I could walk north-northeast to the confluence point, which was now 700 meters away. He said yes and also said that I could drive a bit closer than where I was parked. After I showed him my GPS, I asked him what he was planting. He had planted corn to the east but in this particular field, he was just working the soil. I asked him about the flowers I had seen and he said they call those "yellowtop." They certainly were numerous. I thanked him and walked to the car. I noticed that the road to the oil station ended just 50 meters north, and if I hadn't been in such a hurry, would have walked from there. But, not wanting to unduly disturb the fields, and to save a few minutes, I drove back east along the track, and took the track to the north that I had noticed on the way in. It truly was a single track, driven previously by perhaps 2 vehicles. The earth was very soft and I was a bit concerned I would get stuck, but I continued straight until a 90-degree turn to the west, which was fortuitous as it was gradually leading me to the confluence.
The road ended abruptly at a deep hole partly filled with water, about 3 meters in diameter, and rimmed with a pipe that looked related to the petroleum infrastructure in the area. I parked here and walked briskly to the northwest, only to realize that I had forgotten my camera, came back, and then briskly walked once more over bare ground with a few sprigs of plants bursting forth here and there. I walked gingerly and in less than 200 meters, I reached the confluence.
The southwesternmost confluence in Indiana therefore lies on flat ground, about 90 meters south of the treeline to the north. The temperature stood at about 75 degrees F under mostly clear skies and a moderate breeze. I saw a few birds but no animals. I now had 5 Indiana confluence points. I had stood on 38 North several times in the past, from California on the west to Virginia on the east, and also on 88 West several times before, from Michigan on the north to Alabama on the south. I had to say that this was one of the prettiest confluences I had visited.
As I needed to make rapid tracks to the St Louis airport, which was over two hours away, I only spent 10 minutes on the site. It was one of my fastest confluence visits ever, even though it took me awhile to reach the spot in the first place. After a quick succession of photos and videos, I walked briskly back to the vehicle to the southeast, seeing the imprint of my steps from five minutes previous on the way in, in the bare earth. I drove back out on the narrow track, fortunately not getting stuck. I even filmed a movie when I came to the yellowtop-covered field, and emerged once more on the gravel road at the railroad bridge. Entering my data into my many devices there, I almost collided with one of the workers' trucks as it was driving down to join the rest of the crew. Need to pay better attention!
Now I drove out to the road traveling northwest out of Mt Vernon again (Savah Road), drove a bit southeast on it, but then continued east on a gravel road (250 S), which took me to State Highway 69. It looked new and straight, and was probably the one I should have taken out to the confluence to save time, even though I highly enjoyed the winding Savah Road. I took State 69 north to I-64, then into Illinois, and all the way to St Louis. Once there, I got stuck in traffic near the Arch but managed to turn in the vehicle and make my flight in plenty of time. An excellent end indeed to my time in the central USA.