Site seeing opportunities
in Martin County are many and varied. Spend some time and delve into
the history or spend a few hours and take in the more notable,
resplendent geological sites and scenic views.
The Martin County Museum
is a good place to start if you are interested in history. Located in
the old Court House in Shoals, the Museum commands a view of the valley
and the town of Shoals. Unique in architecture and design the building
is also historically significant. A wealth of information, resources
and artifacts for the history of Martin County are available as well as
knowledgeable people to help you.
Martin County Museum in the
old Court House, Shoals
provided by: The Shoals News, Steve Deckard
beautiful sites are easily accessed in Martin County.
West River Road from Shoals, location of The Pinnacle
Rock and House Rock
The free-standing, rare table
rock formation known as the Jug Rock.
The Incredible natural geological
rock formation, Jug Rock, composed of sandstone, located in Shoals near
the East Fork of the White
As the largest free-standing table rock formation (also called a "tea table") in the United States
east of the Mississippi
River, the Jug Rock has created a great deal of interest in
geological circles. One of the earliest accounts known to us was
published in 1871 in the Second Report of the Geological
Survey of Indiana by state geologist E.T. Cox. He
“One of the most interesting spots to visit,
for obtaining a view of this character of scenery, is near the town of
Shoals, on the road to the Indian Sulphur Springs. A high ridge of
millstone grit, here, terminates within a few yards of the East Fork of
White river, from the top of which, there is a projecting mass of
conglomerate sandstone, called the "Pinnacle," which stands one hundred
and seventy feet above the level of the stream. Cyclopean blocks, that
have broken off, lie around the foot of the ridge, in every conceivable
position. On the north side of this ridge, the conglomerate has been
cut through by disintegrating forces, which left, at some distance from
the main ledge, a tall mass of rock, which has received the name of
"Jug Rock," from the fancied resemblance which it bears to a jug. It is
forty-two feet high and supports, on its top, a flat projecting layer,
which is called the "stopper." Just above the bulge of the jug are
irregular lines of stratification, known as false bedding. The lower
part is thickly set with quartz pebbles.”
Quote and information from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jug_Rock
Jug Rock, overall dimension
is sixty feet high and twenty feet in diameter. The Pinnacle
is the front part of the original sandstone formation that eroded to
form Jug Rock. Jug Rock stands alone with no adjacent ledge,
which classifies it as one of the most puzzling formations, known as
“Stand Rocks,” in the United States.
Surely this is not Indiana
– a couple hours drive from Indianapolis. The small winding
road hugging the edge of the River it follows, framed by steep rock
walls that could be out of the pages of Appalachia or Colorado, is the
home of The Pinnacle Rock.
The front part of a
massive sandstone formation The Pinnacle is a perpendicular descent of
over two hundred feet. Astonishingly beautiful to view, humbling to
stand beneath and surprisingly near-by in Shoals, Southern Indiana.
The erosion of the original
sandstone formation that makes up The Pinnacle on one side left us with
the Jug Rock monument on the other side.
House Rock, just down the road
from The Pinnacle is part of this same sandstone formation that has
melted away, moved and shifted on the foundation of the whole
throughout the centuries.
McBride’s Bluffs and
many other interesting ledges and bluffs along West River Road and
through out much of Martin County surprise and delight area visitors.
It is no wonder the area is referred to as the Smokey Mountains of
Although pictures are enticing
they in no way do justice to the magnitude of these formations. We
invite you to come and see for yourself the splendor of these
geological wonders in Martin County.
As you stand before the
imposingly large cave-like structure and prepare to enter, you wonder
if it will be dark inside, what will you be able to see? The floor
appears as a dry river bed swept clean, a reminder that water has been
here. First impressions leave you wondering if the interior will be
small and dark and cave-like within. Yet one more step into the
darkness surprisigly opens up into what is in effect a huge,
don’t underestimate that ‘huge’,
tee-pee made of giant stones. As you stand in the center, throw your
head back, look straight up, astonishingly you take in blue sky, trees
towering far above you and the light of day pouring through the center
opening. The center opening, merely a by-product from the angles that
the huge rock formations have taken as their foundations moved and
shifted through the centuries, causing their tops to careen over. They
now gracefully rest one upon another. As the light of day shines
through the enorminity and character of the walls come into focus. It
is a room. You are protected from the elements. You can imagine the
history that has unfolded here.
Massive rock formations, placed as if they were set by hand, create a
shelter, a ‘ rock house’ as these places are known
locally. Indians and the first settlers used the ‘rock
houses’ as meeting places, conventions centers of their day.
Rock’ on West River Road at Shoals was just
such a meeting place. Formed by two several hundred-ton sandstone
blocks slipping on the weak underlying foundation and lodging upon each
other. This particular formation is the greatest of the cave
shelters along the White River locally known as
History of Martin
by Harry Q. Holt
100 feet of pure Mansfield
This stunning sight runs between the bluffs and scenic White
River. The bluffs are owned by the Nature Conservancy and are
protected by the State’s Department of Natural
One of the highest volume
springs in Indiana, you can’t miss this stop in Martin
County. The spring exits from the base of Beaver Bluff,
eight-tenths of a mile southwest of Shoals. On a sprawling
rock wall, known as the “Date Rock,” locals go out
on boats during the seasonal floods and mark, in paint, the water
levels and the date on the wall.
A scenic view of the winding
White River through river bottom, farms and valleys. Come
enjoy the park’s shelter house and picnic areas.
Overlook Park can be found along US Hwy 50 and State Road 450, west of
Shoals. Centrally located for a stop along the way while site seeing.
springs across this region of Southern Indiana, became
the sites for health spas in the early part of the century.
French Lick spring in West Baden survives today as a tourist
destination spot. Similar areas in Martin County, such as
Trinity and Indian Springs, attracted visitors seeking rest and health
from the healing properties of the natural waters.
A view of the bathhouse at
Indian Springs Resort in its prime.
The most popular of the Martin
County sites, Trinity Springs,
can still be found eight miles north of Shoals and a quarter of a mile
from Harrisonville, in the Hoosier National Forest. As the
name suggests, Trinity is a group of three springs, with a water
temperature of fifty seven and a half degrees year-round.
These well-known springs produce clear, sparkling water that is
pleasant to drink compared to other springs, with the taste being only
very slightly bitter.
In it’s heyday in the
early 1900s, Trinity Springs, with its flowing sulphur water, was quite
the tourist attraction. The natural habitat kept people
returning every summer to bathe in the medicinal, healing mineral
waters. At least seven hotels sprung up in Trinity over the
course of its popularity. Six trains a day took passengers to
the Indian Springs, met by a horse-drawn
bus at the prosperous railroad depot. A new railroad route
altered the course of history for the springs in Martin County, and
over time the tourism faded away. They are still bubbling
away as part of the Hoosier National Forest today.
All pictures from A Photographic History of Martin County by Bill Whorrall. Information from History of Martin County by Harry Q. Holt.
The Mustering Elm
is the location at Trinity Springs where the 65th Indiana Regiment was
mustered for the Civil War in 1861. The site is now a public
park for picnicking and enjoyed by many visitors. The park is
located along State Road 450 on the east edge of Trinity Springs.
Photo courtesy of Bill Whorrall
|Built around 1835, this was
the home of Major William Houghton, a Civil War veteran. He was the
president of the White River Bank. The house is located along
State Road 550, four-tenths of a mile east of the Houghton Bridge (over
White River). One of the two stage coach houses in Martin County,
Houghton House was part of the ‘underground
Built in 1832, Routt House was
the first stage coach stop on the New Albany-Vincennes Trace in the
It remained in the same family
for over 135 years, and has weathered the tests of times, including
earthquakes. Besides the cemeteries, this home is all that is
left of the town of Mount Pleasant. Routt House is on the Indiana State
Register of History.
Located two-tenths of a mile
south of State Road 550.
Historic Bridges throughout Martin County are part
of its charm. Click here to see a complete list of Martin