• THE LIMBERLOST SWAMP

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    The location of the Limberlost Cabin was close to the Limberlost Swamp, which covered approximately 13,000 acres in the southern part of Adams County, the northern part of Jay County, and a small portion of Wells County in Indiana and Mercer County in Ohio.

    Attracted to the abundant wildlife and unique plant life of the Limberlost Swamp, Gene Stratton-Porter spent a great deal of time photographing the flora and fauna of the area, and the swamp became the setting for many of her famous novels. Her love of the Limberlost Swamp inspired the novels that brought her international fame as an author. The Limberlost Swamp was the subject of some of her most popular novels including her bestsellers, Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost (today considered classics of Indiana literature). During her time at Limberlost, she wrote six novels and five nature books.

    The Limberlost Swamp was a perfect place for a naturalist like Gene to photograph birds and plants. She would often bring butterflies and moths indoors to photograph and study, and she sold many of her bird photographs to the popular nature magazines of the time, like Recreation and Outing Magazine. Her skill in understanding bird behavior allowed her to get remarkable photographs of live birds in their natural habitat and help set the standard for future bird photographers.

    For Mrs. Porter, the Limberlost was a place to study the natural world, but for others of her time, it was a place to be avoided altogether. When Mrs. Porter arrived in Geneva in 1888, the Limberlost Swamp was in the process of being ditched and drained so that its valuable timber could be cut and settlers could lay claim to more agricultural land. In 1888 an oil & natural gas boom started in this part of the state, and by 1895 it was going at a fever pitch. Many had hopes that large deposits of oil would be found below the surface of the Limberlost.

    By 1913, Mrs. Porters popularity as a writer made her seek out a more private location for a new home she built with her own money on Sylvan Lake in Noble County, Indiana,. Also, by 1913, the original 13,000 acre Limberlost swamp was significantly reduced in size due to drainage projects and this adversely impacted Mrs. Porter’s nature studies.

    Despite efforts at draining the Limberlost, many acres still frequently flood and this flood-prone acreage is eligible for federal and state programs established to protect and increase the amount of wetland acreage in Indiana. There is a successful program underway by Limberlost Swamp Remembered, a Committee of The Friends of the Limberlost, to buy and restore some of the Limberlost Wetlands. Today close to 1500 acres of the Limberlost Swamp are in the process of being restored and are managed by the Indiana Division of Nature Preserves. People can visit these restored wetland properties and experience the Limberlost just like Gene Stratton-Porter did a hundred years ago, and discover why Mrs. Porter felt the Limberlost was the best place to study birds, wildflowers, and moths.