FORT WAYNE, Indiana--JUST OFF A RURAL STEUBEN COUNTY ROAD, MARKED BY A SIGN A MOTORIST MIGHT EASILY MISS..IS A REFUGE. THE CHARLES MCCLUE NATURE RESERVE…80 ACRES OF WOODLAND THAT LOOKS MUCH AS IT DID BEFORE THE WHITE MAN ARRIVED IN INDIANA.
Fred: The McClue Reserve is about as close to an old growth forest as we have in Steuben County, or possibly in northeast Indiana.
THE RESERVE IS FILLED WITH GIANT RED OAK, TULIP, WALNUT AND ASH TREES..AND THE HAUNTINGLY BEAUTIFUL SOUNDS OF SONG BIRDS. BUT THERE IS MORE TO THIS RESERVE THAN MEETS THE EYE..OR EAR. IT WAS BEQUETHED TO STEUBEN COUNTY BY MAURICE MCCLUE UPON HIS DEATH IN 1957. MCCLUE WAS A LAWYER, STATE LEGISLATOR AND ANGOLA CITY ATTORNEY…WHOSE REAL LOVE WAS NATURE, ESPECIALLY BIRDS. FOR NEARLY 40 YEARS, FROM 1919 TO JUST DAYS BEFORE HIS DEATH MAURICE MCCLUE KEPT A NATURE JOURNAL, FILLING IT WITH HIS OBSERVATIONS ON PLANTS, ANIMALS, THE WEATHER AND, OF COURSE…INDIANA’S BIRDS. TERRI GORNEY TRANSCRIBED MCCLUE’S JOURNAL INTO BOOK FORM IN 2007.
Terri: He writes about the first European starlings coming to Angola in 1929, he writes about the dust storm in May of 1934 that it was so bad he couldn’t walk outside. He laments the fact and he’s saddened by the fact that in his lifetime he saw the Bald Eagle, the osprey and the sand hill cranes and many other birds disappear from the area.
MCCLUE WAS SHOCKED BY WHAT HE SAW AS MAN’S ASSAULT ON NATURE AND DEVOTED HIS LIFE TO CONSERVATION AND FIGHTING DEVELOPMENT. IN HIS WILL MCCLUE STIPULATED THAT HIS 80 ACRE WOODS NEAR POKAGON STATE PARK WOULD BE GIVEN TO STEUBEN COUNTY AS A NATURE PRESERVE, NAMED IN HONOR OF HIS FATHER, TO HELP LOCAL SCHOOL KIDS LEARN ABOUT THEIR ENVIRONMENT. MCCLUE CERTAINLY CHANGED TERRI GORNEY’S LIFE.
Terri: In a way he’s become a teacher for me. I’ve seen a piece of Indiana that no longer exists. It’s like a glimpse into the past.
A GLIMPSE YOU CAN STILL CATCH, IN THIS WELL-SHADED CORNER OF YOUR COUNTY. THIS IS ERIC OLSON REPORTING.
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