Monument City, a former town at Salamonie Lake that is visible this summer due to drought conditions affecting water levels in the reservoir, has been temporarily closed to all public access.
The site drew attention over the weekend with statewide media reports that it is now visible after being submerged for decades at the flood control reservoir that borders Huntington and Wabash counties.
Visitors initially were allowed to go to the site, but DNR officials quickly became concerned when people started looking for and collecting artifacts.
Consequently, access to the site was closed Sunday to protect anthropological resources until state and federal archaeologists can inspect the area.
“The DNR respects the sentimental reasons behind people wanting to visit the site and recognizes the curiosity others may have for historical or educational purposes,” said Ginger Murphy, assistant director for stewardship with the DNR Division of State Parks & Reservoirs. “Nevertheless, we are bound by state and federal laws to preserve the artifacts that tell the story of this town. This means prohibiting access for the time being to eliminate the possibility of things being taken from the site.”
Removal of artifacts from this site is a violation of state and federal laws.
Usually at this time of year, the Monument City site is below water but the extended drought has left Salamonie Lake approximately 14 feet below its regular summer level.
Salamonie Lake was established in 1967 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a flood control project for the upper end of the Wabash River and its tributaries. Several small riverside towns, including Monument City, were removed to make way for the reservoir. Buildings were torn down and grave sites were relocated. What remains are remnants of a paved road, some building foundations and scattered debris.
Curiosity seekers still wanting to catch a glimpse of what’s left of Monument City can – but only from a distance. The best vantage point is on the south side of the reservoir at the Lost Bridge East State Recreation Area boat ramp. Bring binoculars.
Another option for learning about Monument City and its history is to visit the Upper Wabash Interpretive Center in Lost Bridge West State Recreation Area. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
The DNR also is looking at the possibility of providing some guided tours of the Monument City site later this summer.