ACRES Land Trust
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Roland and Catharine Maxwell gifted 29 acres along the Wabash River to us in 1973. Buffer property, mostly former farmland, has been added, making a total of 86.59 acres.
Ted Heemstra credits Jane Dustin and her friendship with Catherine Maxwell for making this magnificent gift to ACRES a reality.
While there was a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the new preserve on Saturday, September 20, 1975, it was no ordinary ribbon that the Maxwells cut -instead, a chain of weeds and grasses fitting for this wonderful natural treasure.
The first sign at the preserve stated: "Heritage from the past for nature study and scientific research." The Maxwells lived close to the land their entire lives, and their wish was that Purdue University be allowed to use the preserve as an outdoor museum.
Acres Along the Wabash is a delight to walk in, no matter the season. With the ADA-compliant trail, everyone can enjoy the preserve. It is especially beautiful in spring with wildflowers such as shooting star, wild hyacinth, and large flowering trillium, as well as migrating and nesting birds that make their home here at least part of the year. Pileated woodpeckers, warblers, red-eyed vireo, and wood thrush nest here in the summer. In the fall, the trees are at their most beautiful. These include sycamore, hackberry, burr and red oak, black maple, red elms and paw paws.
The Maxwells became Hoosiers by choice. Rolland was a native of Illinois, and Catherine was born in Pennsylvania. The family lived in rural Champaign County, Illinois, then moved with their young boys in the late 1930s to Huntington County, Indiana.
Rolland was a farmer by profession, and he loved tractors. In 1971 his article on tractor demonstrations was published in Gas Engine Magazine. He recounts how his father took him to his first tractor show in 1915, five miles from his family farm. He was fourteen years old, and it "thrilled" him to see all the tractors. "After much deliberation, my father bought his first tractor in 1917, at the Champaign, Illinois, show," Rolland wrote. In the 1970s, Rolland was still attending and writing about tractor shows. In 1975, he drove 900 miles to see his favorite gas engines.
Cheers to Acres Along the Wabash Nature Preserve for celebrating 40 years - and to the Maxwells for making this milestone possible.
By Terri Gorney