By Nancy R. Elliott
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — It arrived in a flat rate postage box.
“It was really heavy,” said Jessica Rosier. She’s the interpretive naturalist at Mounds State Park, where the package was delivered. Instead of the usual park fare of office supplies or literature, however, this package contained a truly unique object. It also came with a little mystery.
Inside the box was a large, rather unusual-looking rock.
“It does have character,” said Rosier. “It’s got a lot of crevices in it.” She noted the holes in the deep, rich gray-colored rock were probably caused by erosion. The rock weighs exactly 10 pounds.
Along with the rock came a note which answered a few questions about the rock, but left others unanswered.
Rosier said the note explained that the rock was found at Mounds State Park back in the 1940’s. For reasons unknown, the man who found it took it with him and kept it throughout the years.
“Maybe he thought it was a meteorite,” speculated Rosier. “A lot of people think it’s a meteorite.”
Rosier said the man moved to Florida, taking his find with him and keeping it until his recent death. That’s when his family went through and sorted out his belongings. Whatever the story of the rock was, the family knew it, because they knew where the rock’s rightful home was. Hence, the flat rate box.
With no return address, it appears we’ll never really know why the man took and kept the rock all those years.
“We’re trying to have it identified,” said Rosier. The naturalist noted that the rock is not a meteorite. “It’s not magnetic.”
Park regular, Forrest Bricker, was called upon for his opinion. Bricker, who is just shy of his 85th birthday, has been a rock hound from the get-go.
“I’m no geologist,” Bricker is quick to point out. Still, he knows a thing or two about rocks. “I started out looking for rocks when I was a kid.” He’s been doing it ever since. “I really loved the fossils.”
Bricker agrees the rock is not likely to be a meteorite.
“It was a glacier rock,” said Bricker, noting the marks of erosion on the dense, heavy rock.
Rosier also put out a call to her fellow interpreters at state parks and reservoirs around Indiana. She reported that Jill Vance of Monroe Lake suggested it might be hematite. Alan Goldstein, of Falls of the Ohio, agreed that the rock exhibits glacial features.
Whatever the rock’s earliest origins may have been, it has at last made its homecoming to the park after seven decades of wandering with its erstwhile owner. The well-traveled rock is not the only item that has been taken from the park and returned.
“We do get things like this that come our way every so often,” said Rosier. The park has an arrowhead with which someone at one time absconded. It was anonymously returned about 40 years later.
“They feel really bad and they want to return it, but they don’t want to get in trouble,” said Rosier of the anonymous nature of the returns.
Rosier noted that people are not supposed to take anything from the park.
“Nature needs to remain wild,” said Rosier. “It’s all part of a great big ecosystem.” Thus, that handful of plucked wildflowers leaves less for the bees to thrive and do their important work, or the rock that goes missing no longer provides shade for a little critter. “I think when people understand how that all comes together, in the future, they’re less likely to take something.”
In addition to upsetting the natural balance, Rosier said that things people might be tempted to take along with them could have historical significance. Mounds State Park is, after all, a site where the Adena-Hopewell people existed 2,000 years ago.
Rosier noted that at the end of field trips, everyone is gently reminded to put down anything they’ve picked up along the way. Exceptions to that would be school children collecting leaves for a project. Berries and mushrooms are the only other items not out of bounds.
There’s no question no one really needs to take anything home with them from the park aside from the simple joy of being in nature. That’s why Bricker can be so frequently spotted there.
“I just love the outdoors. I’m an outdoors person,” said Bricker. As for his particular penchant for rocks, he noted, “I love God’s beauty in the rocks.”