Turkey Run Indiana State Park
Chapter title – Brief History – Turkey Run State Park
Brief History – Turkey Run State Park
Established in 1916 as Indiana’s second state park, Turkey Run is on Indiana State Road 47 about two miles east of its intersection with US 47. The state acquired the property from the Hoosier Veneer company for $40,000 after receiving a $20,000 grant from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The wild canyons of the park create challenging hiking and beautiful scenery. Hikers can cross Sugar Creek on the Suspension Bridge while watching canoeists ply the waters on their way downstream. The park contains a number of historic buildings, including the home of John Lusk, a prominent early owner of the property. Overnight visitors may stay at one of the campgrounds in the park or at Turkey Run Inn.
Richard Lieber Memorial
Visitors to Turkey Run will find the Richard Lieber Memorial east of Turkey Run Inn behind the Log Church. The Memorial contains the ashes of the founder of the Indiana State Park system.
Richard Lieber (September 5, 1869 – April 15, 1944)
The son of son of wealthy parents, Otto and Maria Henriette Julie Richter Lieber, Richard was native to St. Johann-Saarbrucken, Germany. As a child he suffered a chest injury, which led to an illness that made it difficult to attend school. Thus, he received much of his education from private tutors.
Immigration to Indiana
To fulfill his parent’s desire to learn English, he traveled to London, England after graduating from secondary school. In England he visited various museums and historic sites. In 1891, he came to Indianapolis, Indiana in to join two uncles who had immigrated there. He eventually became an American citizen. He worked as a reporter for the Indiana Tribune and married the owner’s daughter, Emma Rappaport. After visiting Yosemite National Park, the Rocky Mountains of Idaho and Montana in 1900, he became an ardent conservationist. President Theodore Roosevelt held Conference of Governors in 1908, which Lieber attended as a delegate. He wrote a series of articles promoting Indianapolis as the site for the Fourth National Conservation Congress in 1912. He succeeded in his effort, and served as the chairman. During World War I, Indiana governor James Goodrich appointed Lieber as his military secretary. He bestowed the rank of Colonel on him, which Lieber used from then on.
Founder of Indiana State Park System
As Indiana’s centennial approached, Lieber began advocating for a state park system. Because of his efforts, Turkey Run and McCormick’s Creek State Park were established in 1916 without public funds. Lieber believed that the state park system should be self-supporting as much as possible. To help achieve this he advocated that the parks charge visitors a fee to enter. He established the state park inn system to help add to the state park system’s cash flow. The admission policy and state park inn system were revolutionary concepts during that time.
Director of Indiana State Department of Conservation
Lieber received the appointment of Director of the Indiana State Department of Conservation at its inception in 1919. He served in that post until 1933. Lieber gained a national reputation as the architect of the Indiana State Park System, which many other states modeled. He acted as a consultant for many of the states that wished to set up a similar system and organized the first gathering of state park personnel on a national level. He hosted the convention at Turkey Run State Park in 1921. During his tenure the state park system grew to ten parks and five state memorials.
Death at McCormick’s Creek
Lieber passed away while visiting McCormick’s Creek in 1944. Visitors to Turkey Run State Park will find the Richard Lieber Memorial east of Turkey Run Inn behind the Log Church. The Memorial contains the ashes of the founder of the Indiana State Park system.
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