Noble County is situated in northeastern Indiana’s “lake country.” And two lakes — or rather, a series of nine connecting lakes and one other — are especially significant in the county’s culture and its attractions.
The Chain O’Lakes State Park, in south central Noble County, is a series of serene kettle lakes — created by the melting glacier that covered much of Indiana some 13,000-14,000 years ago. The park includes 212 surface acres of water.
The lakes are interconnected by narrow wooded channels and can be enjoyed with boats powered by paddles or electric motors. Amenities at the park include overnight family cabins, a campground, beach, and picnic shelters, along with rentals for canoes, paddleboats, kayaks and rowboats. There are also 23 miles of forested trails to hike.
In north central Noble County is Sylvan Lake. The untouched natural beauty of the area near Rome City lured famed Hoosier writer, naturalist and nature photographer Gene Stratton-Porter to the county in 1912. She made the move as the Limberlost wetland near her home downstate in Geneva was being destroyed for commercial purposes.
With the wealth she had attained from her writing career inspired by Limberlost that had begun a decade earlier, Stratton-Porter purchased property overlooking Sylvan Lake and made plans for a new home. The vast, undeveloped forest provided a rich source of material for her nature studies, writings and photography. The year-round, two-story, 14-room cedar-log cabin she designed was completed in 1914. Her home became known Cabin in Wildflower Woods. In addition, she helped preserve endangered plants in the area by gathering seeds and sowing them in her gardens.
In 1919, Stratton-Porter relocated to California where she continued to write and founded a movie studio. Eight of her novels were eventually produced as motion pictures. She died in Los Angeles in 1924, at the age of 61, from injuries she suffered in a traffic accident. In 1940, the Gene Stratton-Porter Association purchased Wildflower Woods from Stratton-Porter’s daughter who was the sole heir of her estate. In 1946, the association donated 13 acres of property to the State of Indiana, including the cabin, its formal gardens, orchard, and a pond.
The present-day Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site of 148 acres of fields, woods and formal gardens, includes 20 acres that were part of her original estate. In May 1999, Stratton-Porter’s descendants returned her remains and those of her only daughter to Wildflower Woods for burial near the cabin.
The cabin and grounds are open to the public from April through December. The grounds are open daily from dawn until dusk; guided tours of the first floor of the home are available for a small admission charge. Furnishings in the home are arranged and maintained to reflect Stratton-Porter’s lifestyle. Much of the furniture and personal collections, including her library, are preserved at the home.
Named for: According to the Noble County Historical Society, the county is named for James Noble, Indiana’s first U.S. senator. For decades, historians and textbooks have wrongly credited his brother, Noah, who was governor of Indiana from 1831 to 1837.
Population:47,532 (2018 estimate)
County seat: Albion
Indiana county number: 57
To learn more about the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site, call 260-854-3790, or visit www.indianamuseum.org/historic-sites/gene-stratton-porter.
To learn more about the Chain O’Lakes State Park, call 260-636-2654 or visit