Jerry Kuntz (Writer)

Exploring American History through Unique Individuals

The Accidental Homage to Ernest Morris

The photo below was taken three days ago of the Old Washington Street Bridge in Indianapolis, which is now a pedestrian walkway linking downtown to the White river State Park and Indianapolis Zoo. It was built in 1914 to replace the original wooden bridge that was destroyed by a flood in 1913.

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That foot of that wooden bridge was the starting point for Ernest T. Morris’s solo canoe trip down the White, Wabash, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers, from Indianapolis to New Orleans, a journey of about 1000 miles. He make this trip in 1874, having just turned 18, and was described as a small, sickly youth.

Today, the pedestrian walkway on the bridge also offers public sculptures, one of which is a piece titled “Travelogue” that represents a canoe. I’m sure the artist, Eric Nordgulen, had no idea who Morris was or that he had started his journey at this spot–but I was still delighted to find it in this spot, and sent an email to Nordgulen to tell him about it.

canoe

 

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