My Travel Memories: Eagle Creek Park, Indianapolis, Indiana (1991, 198?)

Note the “198?”) above. I’ve been to Eagle Creek Park twice. The first was when my cousin (technically my second cousin once removed, but my family is so small, that she was just my cousin) took my mom and me in the 1980s.

It was such a beautiful park that when Thomas and I were thinking about going to Indianapolis for our honeymoon, I thought that’d be a nice place to visit.

And it was, erm, mostly.

Eagle Creek Park charges an admission fee. Because of this, I kind of assumed that it was a state park. It isn’t. It’s a municipal park.

Eagle Creek Park is more than 5,300 acres (2,145 hectares) in total area. The City of Indianapolis’s website says that it’s “more than” 1,400 acres of water and “more than” 3,900 acres of land*. As far as I’m concerned, that’s more than 5,300 acres total.

On its way to becoming a municipal park, the land that is now Eagle Creek Park was been owned by J.K. Lilly, Jr.

Time out. The website at says that J.K. Lilly Jr. was the brother of Eli Lilly, so I was trying to figure out how Eli Lilly’s brother would come into so much money, I assumed that the Lilly family’s fortune stemmed from the pharmaceutical company. “Did Eli Lilly’s family have money before he founded the pharmaceutical company,” I wondered.

Turns out that there are two Eli Lillys. The Eli Lilly who founded the pharmaceutical company as the grandfather of a different Eli Lilly who was a philanthropist and is the one whose name is emblazoned on libraries and on rolls of donors of churches and the historical society.

So. J.K. Lilly, Jr., the grandson of the founder of the pharmaceutical company and the brother of the philanthropist, used to own the land that is now Eagle Creek Park. Beginning in 1958, J.K. Lilly Jr. donated the land to Purdue University.

Eagle Creek flooded in 1957 and caused a great deal of damage, the city began plans to buy the land from Purdue University and to put a dam on the river, which, of course, wouldn’t stop the flooding, but would keep the water contained. They began that purchase in 1966.

I’m researching the Native American history of the area, but so far I haven’t been able to find anything official. I think I’ve found an archaeological report, but I’ll have to do some digging to find it. I may even have to call Indiana State University for a copy. I missed my September 18 post and I want to get this written.

When Thomas and I went to Eagle Creek Park, it was before we had access to the Internet, so we didn’t really have a good source for all of the information about the history and high points of the park. As a result, we just kind of bopped around taking nature walks and seeing what we saw.

First of the two things that stick out in my mind was a visit to the nature center (that building is now the ornithology center). There were little cages and tanks with examples of native wildlife and a hutch with a Flemish Giant rabbit in it.

Now, I’ve looked at photos of Flemish Giant rabbits and never seen one that looks as intelligent as this one did. It actually really weirded us both out. Clearly, the rabbit was the baby of the guy who was working there that day, and I don’t want to speak ill of someone’s baby, but yeah.

The other one was my fault. We’d stopped at a picnic area for a snack and some geese approached us. Used to feeding ducks, we gave the geese a couple of nibbles of pretzel rod. And while ducks are like, “Nice snack. Thank you.”** Geese are like, “Nice snack. Give me more.”

We ended up running away from those damn geese. We walked behind a building and then literally ran to the other side. When the geese walked behind the building, we dashed for our car as fast as we could. When we got back to our car, we busted out laughing. We should’nt’ve fed them, of course, but it sure added something memorable to our honeymoon.

Now I’m going to have to do some research into my next Gratuitous Amazon Link. Looks like I’m at the final book in the probably-final Riordanverse series, Trials of Apollo: The Tower of Nero. I’m currently rereading this series.

*About Eagle Creek Park

**I know. We shouldn’t be feeding ducks or geese bread products. This was 1991, though, and we’d been raised feeding things like that to ducks. Nowadays if I were to feed anything to ducks, I know to bring them fruit, vegetables, or whole grains.

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