By Deb Patterson
NORTH WEBSTER — North Webster Public Library will be the place to visit June 26 to Aug. 7, for the traveling Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibition. Not only will the Smithsonian’s exhibit be featured, but a local companion exhibit will be on view as well.
A ribbon cutting will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 26, followed by a grand opening until 3 p.m. The exhibit will then be open to the public to view during normal library hours.
Water/Ways explores water’s effect on landscapes, communities, culture and spirituality. In addition, two local companion exhibits will highlight the local area’s unique water story and history.
Beth Smith, adult services director and local history and genealogy center director, has created three large displays of photographs showcasing the history of Webster, Tippecanoe and Barbee lakes, called Land of Lakes. A part of the display is information written by Sarah Marty-Schlipf.
“The town of North Webster owes much of its history, economy and culture to Webster Lake, which formed when early residents built a mill and dam that transformed two small, deep ponds into the large lake we know today. Without a railroad or major roadways to drive early industry in town, lake recreation and tourism deeply influenced North Webster’s development from the beginning.
“Our town is uniquely situated within the ecologically and geographically significant natural lakes region of northern Indiana. Tippecanoe Township, where we live, encompasses 11 lakes, including our own Webster, as well as the Barbee chain and Tippecanoe, the deepest natural lake in Indiana. North Webster is also located less than two miles from the Continental Divide. Lake Wawasee, the largest natural lake in the state, lies on the other side of this geographic boundary and flows to Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes. Webster Lake flows into the Tippecanoe River, the headwaters of the Mississippi River watershed in Indiana and one of The Nature Conservancy’s ‘Top 10 Rivers to Protect in the U.S.’ due to the number of rare and endangered species it supports. Because our watershed is the headwaters, what happens in and around our lakes and streams impacts waterways far beyond our own.
“Our lakes are the defining feature of a region rich in natural beauty and they hold a special place in our community’s spiritual life and collective imagination. Seasonal lakeside and boat-in worship services are offered throughout the region and our area is home to a number of church camps, which have hosted campers of different faiths for over 100 years. … Water is the heart and soul of our community, a treasured resource and one of our greatest strengths; it is essential to our collective well-being, in every way.”
In conjunction, a series of 16 educational and interactive programs for adults and families will be offered that examines water’s impact on lives and local environment.
Among the programs will be mussels and river otters; how the lakes were formed; legends, lore and legacies of northeast Indiana native Americans; interactive aquatic STEM activities; an interactive family activity on threats to the watershed; a history of Webster Lake with a ride on the Dixie Sternwheeler; fisheries in the lake; and a float on Grassy Creek. Details of these programs and opportunity to register can be viewed at www.nweb.lib.in.us/waterways.
The North Webster Community Public Library, in partnership with The Watershed Foundation, was selected by Indiana Humanities Council to host the exhibit. North Webster is one of six sites chosen by the council to host the exhibit as part of the Museum on Main Street program, which brings exhibitions and programs to rural communities.
TWF Executive Director Lyn Crighton stated, “We are honored to have been selected through a very competitive process. We are excited to partner with NWCPL in this opportunity to showcase this exhibit and to share the story of our outstanding water resources and community.”