Indiana Historical Marker - Clark State Forest

Hilltop Vista - Clark State Forest
Hilltop Vista - Clark State Forest
Exploring Indiana's Historic Sites, Markers & Museums - South East Edition
Exploring Indiana's Historic Sites,
 Markers & Museums
South East Edition
Title of Marker:
Clark State Forest
On US 31, Clark State Forest, 100 yards past entrance on south side of Forest Road, north of Henryville. (Clark County, Indiana)
Installed by:
1992 Indiana Historical Bureau and Henryville Elementary Little Hoosiers
Marker ID #:
Marker Text:
Indiana's oldest state forest, established 1903. Portions of Clark's Grant (1781) included in original 2, 000 acres. Experimental plantings and reforestation began 1904; became national models in scientific forestry. Multiple land uses include timber management, recreational activities, wildlife areas, and watershed protection.
Brief History
At the time of settlement, vast forests covered Indiana. These forests spawned many industries dependent on the high quality hardwoods found in these forests. Many furniture makers located in the state and the ship builders along the Ohio River needed the lumber for shipbuilding. In addition, much of the valuable timber was exported. The State appointed Charles Deam to oversee the operation of the Forest.
Deforestation and State Forests
By 1900, many areas had become deforested. concern rose that the valuable industries that created jobs would close due to lack of wood. To deal with the problem, the Indiana General Assembly created the Indiana State Board of Forestry in 1901. In 1903, the State purchased land in Clark County and established Clark State Forest to experiment with forest management practices and grow tree seedlings. The initial purchase of 2023 acres has grown to over 20,000 acres today. Many other State Forests have joined the ranks since them, preserving Indiana's forest heritage.
Charles Deam (August 30, 1865 - May 29, 1953)
Charles Deam entered life on a farm near Bluffton in Wells County, Indiana. His father taught him about plants as he grew up, spurring his lifelong interest in botany. He attended DePauw University, but had to leave after his second year because he could not afford the tuition. He got a job as clerk in a pharmacy where the long hours led to exhaustion and high stress. His doctor recommended long walks in the forest to relieve the stress. On these walks, Deam studied the plants and collected specimens. His interest and collection grew and his collection soared to over 78,000 plants. Indiana University acquired his plant collection and Deam joined the Academy of Sciences in Indiana. Indiana Governor became aware of Deam’s work and appointed him as Indiana's first State Forester in 1909. He moved to Clark State Forest to create an experimental forest laboratory. It was at his insistence that the State add an additional 2000 acres to the park. His work had lasting consequences on forestry in Indiana and visitors can still see many of his experimental plantings. The Charles C. Deam Wilderness and Deam Lake State Recreation Area are named in his honor.
Training Facility During Depression
The Civilian Conservation Corps used Clark State Forest as a training facility during the Great Depression. The CCC built many of the structures in the park as training exercises for the men to learn practices to use in other public lands.
Hilly Terrain
Clark State Forest is very hilly, and the narrow, one lane asphalt system of roads, which wind their way through the Forest, makes a very scenic drive, especially in the autumn when the leaves are turning. There are eight sheltered picnic areas, the nicest ones overlooking Franke Lake. There is Old Franke, probably the best one, and New Franke, on the southwest side of the lake.
Mixed Use Facility
Clark State Forest, like all Indiana State Forests, is a mixed-use facility. Hunting and fishing is permitted on the property. There is a popular gun range near Bowen Lake on the west end of the Forest. The State Of Indiana also sells timber from the Forest. Sales from the State Forest provide funds that help administer the State Forest system.
Facilities At Clark
Clark State Forest still functions as a State Forest. In addition to the forestry functions, it provides a number of recreational opportunities for the public. Fishing, hunting, hiking and camping are all offered here as well as horse trails and an outdoor shooting range.
Clark State Forest is located on US 31 about one mile north of Henryville, Indiana and about ten miles south of Scottsburg, Indiana. This is Indiana’s oldest State Forest, established in 1903. It is also one of the prettiest of the State Forests.
Horse Trails
There are about one hundred miles of horse trails at Clark State Forest, as well as six parking lots for day users. Horse riding among the wooded hills of Clark State Forest is a popular activity and the weekends will find many horse riders on the trails. Camping and Fishing
The Forest boasts a forty-five site primitive campground. There are seven public lakes ranging in size from thirteen acres to two acres. Franke Lake, at thirteen acres, is on the southeast side of Clark, the main road winding past it and its two picnic areas. Fishing is permitted, with an Indiana Fishing License in any of these lakes.
Fantastic Views
This road then climbs a rather impressive hill up to the fire tower. On the left, just before the fire tower is a picnic area with a very impressive view. On a clear day, the skyline of Louisville, Kentucky, twenty miles to the south can be visible against a background of trees and sky. There are two unmarked trails here. One, descending the hill to west of the picnic shelter, is a one-quarter mile loop which affords some nice views in the fall and winter when the leaves are down. Another trail, little used, leads down the hill. A hike on this one is not for the unprepared. It is steep, slippery, and finally dies away in the forest. A return up the hill is then necessary. This is a very pretty trail with some nice views, but it is not for the inexperienced hiker.
Fire Tower
The fire tower is the next item of interest on this road. Ninety eight steps to the top, the tower is about one hundred feet tall. Unlike most fire towers, access to the lookout is permitted. An unfettered look at the surrounding countryside here makes it well worth the climb up. Again, Louisville is visible to the south, as well as some Indiana villages in other directions.
Scenic Loop
You can complete the loop around the Forest by turning right at the satellite dish antennae, right again on Bloomington Trail. This leads back to US 31. Maps are available at the State Forest Office, which is just off US 31, the entrance about a quarter mile north of the entrance to Clark State Forest.
Hiking Trails
There are only two marked hiking trails at Clark State Forest, the .9 White Oak Trail, the trailhead is on the right before the turnoff to Old Franke. The Forest Resource Trail, a one-mile loop, is located near the main entrance. The trail head is near the Pine Lake picnic area.
Clark State Forest features a diversity of activities for the nature lover. Hiking, fishing, picnicking, hunting and horseback riding are all activities that can be pursued here. Add to that a scenic drive that encircles the facility, you have the ingredients for a fun day outdoors.
Clark State Forest
P.O. Box 119
Henryville, IN 47126
(812) 294-4306
© Indiana Places 2016