BY NICK ROGERS
A 19th-century description of Indiana’s 13,000-acre Limberlost Swamp advised visitors against a “treacherous … quagmire, filled with every plant, animal and human danger known.”
Such strong words would warn off most. Thankfully, Gene Stratton-Porter had quite a few of her own to write about Limberlost. In its environs, the Wabash County native became one of America’s bestselling early-20th-century novelists, a noteworthy naturalist, a trailblazing entrepreneur, and a staunch conservation advocate.
Born in August 1863, Stratton-Porter defied her era’s expectation of modest lives for women by writing 26 books —popular works of fiction like “Freckles” and “A Girl of the Limberlost,” as well as nature guides — and adapting several into films through her own production company. At the peak of her popularity, Stratton-Porter earned $2 million — equal to $50 million today.
Thanks to the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, you can visit Stratton-Porter’s Limberlost estate in Geneva, as well as another picturesque site she called home in Rome City.
At Limberlost, tours are available of both Stratton-Porter’s Queen Anne-style home (where she and her family lived from 1895 to 1913) and a greenhouse. You can also view her extensive collection of moths (which she studied) and observe wildlife on a hike in Loblolly Marsh.
About 90 minutes north, the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site (or the Cabin at Wildflower Woods) was Stratton-Porter’s residence from 1914 to 1919 and is now her final resting place. Visitors can observe her memorabilia, view a garden, explore wooded paths and take in 99 acres of restored wetland and prairie.
NICK ROGERS is a freelance writer and a communications manager for Purdue Agricultural Communications.
Limberlost State Historical Site
200 6th St.; Geneva
Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site
1205 Pleasant Point; Rome City