Jason and Ricks dig news
The last time that you heard news of our exploits we were digging in
the sewage pit using our brand new method of probing. Well The bottles that we gained from this were not too bad but we had a yearning to explore new territory as we had been hunting this spot for more than twenty
years. We finally decided that rivers were the place to find the hidden treasure, so in our war room we reviewed maps from the 1838 railroad projects in Indiana to find the big "X" marks the spot. We found
several likely locations but the distances to travel seemed too extreme for the following weekend so we decided that the Eel River would once again be our hunting grounds, only this time we were going to search a new section
further north. Well we borrowed a flat bottom aluminum boat from a friend and gathered our gear we were going to brave the Mighty Eel once again. The float was to be from Columbia City to South Whitley, 9 miles of
Uncharted Territory!!!!! and here is where the adventure begins!!!!!!!!
At the time I did not own a truck so I made arrangements to borrow my dads old beater as it would require two trucks to handle the trip. We were going
to go to South Whitley down river and leave my dads truck and then go to Columbia City to put in and float back where my dads truck would be waiting. I showed up at my brothers at around 6:30 a.m. to help load up the boat
and the gear, after we were through I went to my parents (two houses down) and got the keys to the truck which was parked out in the back yard. I crawled into my dads truck (if that's what you want to call it) and fired it up
"We were on our way!", well maybe not. I have to pause here just to reflect back upon how bad this truck really was, I mean you see a lot of trucks that look bad out on the road all dented, rusted and beat up, well
let me tell you!, I hope that you never have to experience anything like this. The window was so dirty that I couldn't see, The clutch stuck the wipers didn't work and putting it into a gear was almost impossible, on top of
this it was pretty much blocked in by the outbuildings in my parents yard so I had to back down a big hill into a field and then drive up to the road. Well we finally got to the gas station about 20 minutes later to buy gas
and other bottledigging necessities (beenie weenies, jerky, soda, water, smokes, lemon cookies, etc.....), and then we were finally off............ but slowly. The bed on my dads truck was on the verge of literally falling
off because the springs on the left side were broken and being held up by a old sheet of tin and it topped out at a whopping 42 miles per hour. You wouldn't believe the look of relief on my face 45 minutes later when I pulled
into the pick-up point in South Whitley (should have taken about 25 minutes).
Well we were finally on our way, all easy roads from here, yup that was the worst of it..... Yeah right!!!!!!!!!
It took us about 10 minutes
to reach Columbia City and we could see the woods lining the river most of the way. After we arrived we started looking for a public access site, well let's just say that after driving around the city for about 20 minutes not
only could we not find an access site "WE COULDN'T FIND THE RIVER!!!!!!!", that's right no Eel river only a little ditch with a small creek running through it. We knew that the Eel river would be bigger than this
only a few miles upstream so we stopped and asked at a convenience store.......... "I am going to pause here for a few more minutes and ask a question???????? Why would anyone drive an hour to work at a convenience
store??????? The first two that we stopped at had people from "out of town" that had no clue as to what the "Eel river" was! We had studied our maps and they showed the Eel river running through
Columbia City, well apparently it had teleported itself somewhere else. What made this even more frustrating was the fact that a few years earlier we had walked along the banks of the river with our dad looking for
"But we were not to be deterred, not by rain, snow, aliens or nuclear war!"
The third convenience store had an actual native of Columbia City, IN (apparently rare in that area) They told us where
the public access site was just NE of town in a park. "We had it made", Not! We drove to the park and found the public access site, it was the same little farm ditch that we had seen before all of about 1.5
foot deep and seven foot wide at it's crest, not only this but a big sign stating "Canoe ramp, Blue River"!!!!!!! "Blue River, Never heard of it"
"THE MIGHTY BLUE RIVER"
We broke out our
maps, sure enough there it was, the Blue River, and it lead right into the Eel only a couple of miles down. After a little discussion me and Rick decide that we could float our boat on this although we knew that there would
be spots where we would have to get out and carry the boat (we didn't realize how many spots though)!
"THE ADVENTURE BEGINS"
It was about 9:00 a.m. by this time and thankfully the water was warm, the first mile
or so went smoothly (meaning that we only had to walk a couple of times with the boat). The second mile consisted of quite a bit more of walking with the boat and then we seen glass in the water. The growth on the sides
of the steep banks surrounding the creek, "I mean river, easy mistake to make" looked rather like an Indiana Jones movie set, so it took us a while to find the source.... Too new! The story of our lives.
Somewhere between the second and third mile of the river we passed under a railroad trussell and I noticed some Camouflage clothing laying up at the top of the bank.....Strange!!!!!!!!, A little further down I found a purse in the
bottom of the creek, river I mean, and amazingly it had everything in it, I.D.'s, glasses, etc.... but no money. We decided to keep the purse and turn it in to the police. About 20 foot further down we seen glass again
and a couple of pieces that we knew to be late 1800's, "This was it", well not quite yet! I found a castoria intact late 1800's and that was it, this was fill dirt and the size and thickness of the bottle is all
that saved it, of course there were about 20 fully intact 1930-50's ketchup bottles intact (what did they make those cursed things out of anyway?). After re-boarding our adventurers craft we moved all of about 10 feet when I
seen the sides of two bottles sticking out of the bank, the water was about 4 foot deep in this place and we grabbed a hold of some weeds and pulled ourselves to the bank. The one was obviously a ketchup bottle but I though
the other one looked interesting so I grabbed a digger and started trying to work the thing out of the bank. I was pretty sure that this bottle was green and not clear but my brother insisted that it was just another ketchup
so I started prying real hard on it with the digger, all of a sudden my brother goes "wait, stop, I don't think that's a ketchup" "Great, I've probably already broken it...... nope it was whole and it was a
very nice Walter Rauper Blop Top, Columbia City, IN, this was it we had found our spot..........
"NOPE, NOPE AND NOPE!"
This bottle was it, and I don't mean for this spot I mean for the whole trip, I am going to cut
this short at this point. The couple of miles that we thought that this river ran was actually about 7 miles and most of it was spent carrying the boat. After we finally reached the Eel river the first couple of miles
were smoking, I mean we were hauling buttocks and then we reached the dead spot, then the log jam and then about 8 miles more of completely dead, no flow whatsoever river. The total trip ended up taking 10 hours and after
further review of the maps we decided that it was actually 19 miles not the 9 that we have originally figured. My arms were so tired of rowing at one point that I was ready to give up and camp on the riverbank (how do you
explain that one to the boss on Monday morning?) and it was the edge of dark when we finally reached "MY DADS TRUCK!!!!!!" All of that rowing and look what we had to look forward to. It took two more hours of
travel to go get my brothers truck and make it back home. Then we had to unload the gear from my dads truck at my brothers and I had to drive twenty minutes back home. The families were ready to send emergency squads
looking for us and all we had to show for it was one measly blop top and a castoria.
"WAS IT WORTH IT??????"
I don't care how bad things seem at the time when you are living these adventures the fact that you
made it out alive and the fact that you have another story to tell to your son, daughter, wife, parent, friend or complete stranger makes it "THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD" It's not about finding the
"MOTHERLOAD" it's about enjoying nature, history and the adventure! Trust me if I would have drug this out into any more detail you have had to sleep for a week and visit the chiropractor every day for a month just
to read it.
This was one of six river floats that me and my brother done this year, there are also lots of other weekends that we spent on searching more than rivers. I personally think that this was one of the
highlights (and a helluva learning experience) of our year.
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