Gifts to Our Community: The Falls of the Ohio
As we embark on the season of gift giving and receiving, let’s take a moment to appreciate some of the community-wide gifts that benefit residents of Louisville and Southern Indiana. If you haven’t appreciated these gifts as much as you could have, now is the time.
The Falls of the Ohio is a unique place for a variety of reasons. It is federal land managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, with a facility that is managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. This state park is also an accessible Devonian-age fossil bed supported by a foundation that worked for the past decade to renovate the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center.
Mike Ellis, a Falls of the Ohio Foundation board member, says the Interpretive Center’s exhibits had become stale and outdated, and the board recognized that an update was needed. Three years were spent in developing a master plan, and seven years were needed to fundraise the $7.5 million total cost of the project. The center’s new exhibits showcase how the shallow tropical sea transformed and eventually became the home of Shawnee tribes and European settlers. A new film that introduces visitors to the exhibits premiered in October and the Interpretive Center’s virtual classroom will be completed in 2019.
School districts have been very supportive of the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center, with as many as 30,000 students visiting every year, and the upcoming virtual classroom will help spread knowledge about the fossil beds even further. “The virtual classroom will allow other education centers to take advantage of the information even if they aren’t ever able to visit the center,” Ellis says.