News and Photos Martin County Economic Development Martin County Tourism About Us Contact Us
     
Sight Seeing

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

 

 

 

 

 

Photo provided by: The Shoals News, Steve Deckard

 

Many beautiful sites are easily accessed in Martin County.


West River Road from Shoals, location of The Pinnacle Rock and House Rock

Jug 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 River.
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 wrote:
“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

Facts:
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.


The Pinnacle

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 Martin County.

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.

 

House Rock
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.

The ‘House 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 “rock houses.” 

History of Martin County
by Harry Q. Holt

Beaver Bluffs
100 feet of pure Mansfield sandstone.
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 Resources. 


Spout Springs
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. 


Overlook Park
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.

 


 

 

 

 

Photo provided by: Marie B. Hawkins
Overlook Rentals



Trinity Springs
Natural 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.

 

Muster Elm
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

 

Houghton House

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 railroad’.

 

Routt House
Built in 1832, Routt House was the first stage coach stop on the New Albany-Vincennes Trace in the mid-1800s.

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. 



Bridges
Historic Bridges throughout Martin County are part of its charm. Click here to see a complete list of Martin County bridges.


     

History and Legends Things to Do Hunting and Fishing Sight Seeing Festivals and Events Food and Lodging Map

   Got questions about Martin County or the surrounding area?
Click Here