Here, behind a low stone wall, down a little traveled road, in back of a church on Trinity Lane is Lock One Park. It goes without saying that there used to be a lock here on the Cumberland River. And before that, Eaton’s Station, within sight of Fort Nashboro, which most folks, back in the day, called French Lick Station.
If you can get over the stone wall, the park slowly descends down to the river and throughout are foundations of old buildings, old tracks, old paths, old walls.
If you feel inclined, you should go down about half way to the river, just past where the path curves and the ruins switch from stone to brick. Sit there for a while. I can’t tell you how long. Sometimes shutting your eyes helps.
You’ll hear the noise from the nearby interstate and kids playing up at street level and birds, the constant chatter of birds. You might hear a mother, calling for her child. Nothing strange about that, except the accent sounds so old-fashioned. And your wait is soon satisfied by the sound of children running past, delighted with a frog or a crawfish they found.
You might also hear the zip of the back and forth of saws on trees and men working to clear the timber from the hills. And there is the noise of the barge as it signals its approach to the lock. And there are the thwacks of arrows hitting wood. And there is the sound of the thunder of thousands of bison moving past you to wade through the shallows.
Still, wait for it. Do not yet open your eyes.
Give it long enough and you might hear a thud like a log falling to the ground, followed by another, and another, until you realize those are footsteps. The smell, also, will be a give away. Maybe, if you are lucky, there will be a whole herd.
Stay still. But open your eyes and see the mastodons, come down to the river to drink, their ghosts still roaming the state, in large herds, though this is the only surefire place to see them.