Martin County Highpoint Trip Report

one area (870+ ft)

Date: May 17, 2002
Author: Bob Schwab

Indiana state completion - accompanied by Jon Mann

This county highpoint is located within the Naval Surface Warfare Center, also known as the Crane Weapons Depot. It is a munitions storage facility, but permission to enter may be obtained if you are patient. It took about two months to arrange my visit. Your reason for visiting has to be perceived as legitimate (I had completed 89 of the 92 Indiana counties when I first contacted them) and you must be a US citizen. If they grant permission to enter, you will need to show proof of citizenship and a picture ID at the gate. They also warn you that your car may be searched and alcohol and guns will be confiscated.

When I first requested permission to visit, I sent them topo maps of the two contours I wanted to see (listed in Andy's book). When I was granted permission to visit, I was told that there was really only one highpoint on the base; the second (small) area I had referred to was not as high, and they said it was in a high-security area where access would be hard to arrange anyway. I was told they had better maps of the base which showed this difference conclusively.

When I visited the base, Jon Mann came up from Nashville and accompanied me. We entered the Bloomington gate (intersection of Indiana Routes 58 and 45) and were directed to the Natural Resources office where we met Steve Andrews. He was very helpful and drove us to the highpoint located in section 10-5N-3W of the Owensburg quad. This oval site is in the woods just southeast of a dirt access road and no more than 500 feet northeast of a munitions bunker. Jon and I walked around a bit and found the obvious high ground where we stood while Steve graciously took pictures.

When we returned to the Natural Resources office, Steve introduced us to one of the foresters who displayed the base maps to us on his computer. The highpoint area we had just visited (10-5N-3W Owensburg quad) showed an additional contour at the 870 foot level, while the smaller area (8-5N-3W Koleen quad) only showed an 850 foot contour line (the tiny 860 foot contour was missing). Their mapping system allows them to superimpose the standard government topo maps over their own maps so we could more clearly discern the differences. When I asked how there could be such obvious discrepancies, they reminded me that the standard topo maps are old and were frequently smoothed and blended, while the base maps they have are newer and were developed with much better technology.

The forester said the highpoint (Owensburg site) was 872 feet above sea level, while the highest (residual) spot elevation in the Koleen site was now only 858 feet (he thought it had been smoothed-down during a construction project several years earlier).

There is no other place on the base where you can find an 870 foot or even an 860 foot contour today. The tiny contour they drew at the 870 foot level was exactly what Jon and I found in the woods (a small circle with two humps within it). Given this and the level of sophistication of their maps, I am confident that we have visited the highpoint of Martin county.

Martin County completes the state of Indiana for me. I have investigated 466 areas located in 92 counties over the last year and a half to claim this state. Indiana may not be lofty, but it will require a fair bit of persistence and patience to obtain permission to visit all the sites. If you'd like some advice on how to best visit any of the Indiana counties, feel free to contact me.