//Trail Status mouse over Java // Town Run Trail History

Author Topic: Town Run Trail History  (Read 8195 times)


  • Administrator
  • Should be riding....
  • *****
  • Posts: 1293
    • View Profile
Town Run Trail History
« on: August 09, 2012, 08:51:53 AM »
I lifted this all from Paul Arlinghaus' answer to a question about tetanus hill.  This was such a great history lesson I thought I'd save it for posterity 8)

The property was farmed and then quarried for gravel.  In order to protect the quarrying operation a levy was built.  The levy was often built by piling trash (farm fence, old cars, misc equipment, metal trash from the quarrying, etc... and then covering it with dirt.  This was in the late 1800's or early 1900's.

In 1913, there was the largest flood on record in Indianapolis.  The flood was caused in large part by all the flood plains along the White River that had been blocked off by levies.  Many of the levies were broken after the flood to allow the flood plains to do what they are supposed to do (disperse flood waters). 

So the land that is now Town Run Trail Park has been significantly altered from its natural state. 

To fully illustrate the amount of man made changes to the land, look at the next three photos of Town Run South.

Town Run South 1941

Town Run South 1972: Notice the land removed at the oxbow.  This was a gravel operation and the land around the edge was left to act as a levy. 

Town Run South 2010: Only a faint outline of where there used to be land.

The point is that Town Run has a long history.  And some of that history is evident in the metal objects found in the the ground.  There are scattered cables, old farm fence, glass dumps, buried cars, etc.....

So in cases of places like Tetanus Hill, the car buried in the ground is part of Town Run's history. 

Due to the amount of human manipulation and the amount of man made objects buried in the ground, there is no way to remove all such objects. In the case of the car buried in Tetanus Hill, it would take a bull dozer to remove the car, and then there would be no hill left to build a trail.

It also is very dangerous to start removing metal objects that become exposed.  A small piece of metal or wire, could be attached to a bail of farm fence, a car, or large tangled mess of metal.  So in general if metal objects don't have sharp edges or pose the same risk as natural objects like rocks, logs, sticker bushes, etc.... then we leave them alone.

We do look for sharp metal objects along the edge of the trail and try to remove them as we find them.  Keep in mind that these objects tend to work their way to the surface due to natural events like freeze thaw, floods, droughts, etc...  So we will likely never see and end to new objects coming to the surface. 

So in the case of Tetanus Hill, we will not be removing all of the metal parts in the trail tread.  It is a part of the history of Town Run and gives the trail character.  It also would create a more hazardous condition if we started digging out parts of the car, as we would just exposed more of the car.  I will look at the area and remove any sharp objects that pose risks above the normal risks involved in mountain biking




  • Paul Arlinghaus
  • Global Moderator
  • Should be riding....
  • *****
  • Posts: 3011
  • Follow me to the next work session at Town Run
    • View Profile
Re: Town Run Trail History
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2012, 01:09:10 PM »
One tool that I use is the City of Indianapolis's map viewer.  It has some quirks and isn't the most user friendly tool, but it provides some good data. 


I typically use it to find out information about the current state of the property.  But it also has historical aerial photos. 

< Use the initial settings to zoom in on town run.  Then in the box above "switch map set", select Aerial Photography, then click "Switch Map Set".  It defaults to the 2010 photos.  But you have a range of data to select on, and you can see the historical changes by working your way through the photos from different dates.>

Using this view, it appears that Tetanus Hill was not part of the early farming levys.  It was created by gravel quarrying in the late 1960's/early 1970's.

Here a series of aerial photos showing the North End of Town Run.

1962: Farm and farm fields

1972: quarrying has begun.  Tetanus Hill is left of the new pond.

1986: The current lake below the parking lot was left by the quarrying operation.

1995: Park the lake was filled in.  Also notice the the 96th street bridge still hadn't been built.


HMBA: Director of Trail Development / Secretary


Important Links





Trail Guide