It's been a decade since a devastating flood hit Morgan County. The natural disaster affected all of the communities along the White River, and it completely altered the future of one community. The unincorporated community of Waverly was founded around 1837 as Indiana worked to build canals to transport goods across the state. A post office was established in 1862 and remained in operation until 1927.
At one time, the community of Waverly was even considered as a possible location for the Indiana state capital - it was one of two finalists along with Indianapolis when the capital was moved to a more central location from Corydon in the 1820s. At its high point, the canal town thrived, supporting three different mills.
2008 certainly wasn't the first time the area had faced flooding, but for the small historic community along the river, this flood would change everything. The last of those still living in the historic town of Waverly were left without homes. Eventually, several properties were purchased by the County with the help of FEMA. All that remained of the historic town of Waverly was a church and former bank building.
Morgan County took ownership of the area and worked to help residents relocate out of harm's way. Their hope was to preserve the community's history and create functional recreational space for the larger community with a new county park. Morgan County Parks and Recreation created a long term plan to transform Waverly into a beautiful park that would honor the legacy of the community of Waverly and its history while also restore the natural function of the river's floodplain and create a place where our built and natural worlds come together.
Old Town Waverly Park is a place for community to connect the environments of the past, present and future, as well as enjoy the natural riverfront. More additions are planned for the future, but currently the park features working blacksmith and tinsmith shops, mural walls, shelters, picnic areas, and two miles of paved trail in addition to the remaining historic structures, creating a place for families to relax, enjoy and explore.
The paved White River Greenway trail offers two miles worth of riverfront hiking and biking among the trees. Keep your eyes and ears open for the many species of birds that are found along the trail. Learn more about historic Waverly from the interpretive signage located all around the park, and don't forget about the annual Old Town Waverly Festival held each year on the third weekend in September!
FEMA representatives recently spoke with Morgan County officials about the transformation of the community of Waverly from the site of a natural disaster into the site of a natural treasure. Listen to their podcast below.