Author: Billy Stein
Date of Trip: January 2001
CHRISTMAS WALK IN HISTORIC METAMORA and THORPE HOUSE COUNTRY INN
Our trip was some time back, to another place and time, to a little town in the southeast part of Indiana called Metamora. The town was originally established back in 1838. We took the White Water Valley Train from Connersville to Metamora, IN for the town’s “Christmas Walk”. The Christmas Walk usually takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving until the middle of December. The train is very old, but the crew’s enthusiasm is energizing, from the ticket seller to the conductor. The train trip in it’s self is like a voyage on a piece of history. It is a delight to take the old restored train, hearing the sounds of the train on the track as you gaze out at the sights of the wildlife and winter woodlands as you pass. I was glad that I wore extra layers of clothing, as the trip can be a little nippy at this time of the year.
When we arrived, it was truly breathtaking to see the glistening, snowy little town of yesteryear all trimmed for Christmas with carolers, horse and carriage rides and Santa. Many of the little stores that we visited were visions of what my Great Grandparents might have been accustom to at Christmas time. Cut evergreens adorned many doorways and you could see candles and Christmas trees in the windows of the little shops. The smell of evergreens, Christmas foods and special treats drifted out to the streets as you passed. The fudge shop was one of my favorites!
It was interesting to watch grain being stone-ground at the Old Grist Mill, just as they did years ago. Jonathon Banes originally constructed the mill in 1945 to use as a cotton mill. Later, it was converted into a flourmill, because of the lack of cotton grown in Indiana. You can purchase some of the cornmeal that is ground at the mill for cooking when you return home, allowing you to reminisce about your trip as the smell of fresh cornbread fills your home. We took some time to enjoy looking at the old Wood Aqueduct that raises the water 16 feet above Duck Creek for the Canal boats in spring. This working aqueduct is made from wood and is the last of its kind in the United States. The Canal boat tours are not in operation at this time of year, but you can always return sometime from the first of May until the end of October to ride them in the future. The Odd Fellows brick building, built by the Gordon brothers in 1853, is the only three-story structure in Metamora. The Martindale House Hotel, a two-story structure, is the oldest building in the town, built in 1938. Other buildings of interest might be the Old Cobblers Shop, the Post Office, the Faulkner-Pierce Drug Store, the Blacksmith Shop, Farmers Bank, Van Camp Store, Blacklidge General Store, and the Jackson Meat Market, to name a few. Of course no town would be complete without a church, and Metamora was no exception. The town’s wood clap church, with its tall bell tower, was originally constructed in 1871. All of these were easily found by using the walking tour map provided by the Members of Historic Metamora.
Metamora sports several lovely bed and breakfast establishments. We chose the little gingerbread bed and breakfast, Thorpe House Country Inn. It was very close to the old Grist Mill, the town Gazebo with carolers and the Canal with many little ducks, all anxious to be fed some crumbs or grain from any passer-by. Our stay at Thorpe House caused us to pause and think back to how it might have been, had we lived back in the 1800s, when the house was originally built, in a much less hurried time. It was wonderful to hear the laughter at dinner of the other guests, as we engaged in real person-to-person conversations. The food that was served was delicious, after our busy day of walking through the streets of Metamora visiting one little shop after another. The hospitality of the Owens Family was beyond belief, to the point of telling us we could come down to the kitchen, if we got hungry during the night! The hot homemade blackberry cobbler with a big dip of ice cream, which was served to us before we went upstairs to our room, made sure that hunger was never a problem! Our room, with private bath had no phone, no TV or radio and no alarm clock. These conveniences of today were never missed as we snoozed peacefully, after a full day of walking the streets of Metamora. We wished life could be as peaceful when we returned home with our memories of Metamora and our special gifts for our family.