The Hoosierist: Monster Mash-Up

Library paintings, winter camping, and the Chestnut Ridge Monster. Ask The Hoosierist.

Q: Have you heard of the Chestnut Ridge Monster in Jackson County?
A: After quite a bit of searching, The Hoosierist turned up several references to the above-mentioned entity. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you feel about malevolent cryptids), it doesn’t live in Indiana. While Jackson County does include a tiny cluster of homes on a road called Chestnut Ridge, this isn’t the place where the alleged monster lives. That Chestnut Ridge can be found in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. It’s apparently plagued by all kinds of X-Files-style problems, from UFOs to some sort of Bigfoot/werewolf/alien hybrid. Oh, and there’s also a prehistoric bird. Someone even made a documentary about it called Invasion on Chestnut Ridge, which calls the spot “one of the most intriguing and unusual areas this side of the Bermuda Triangle.” A description which, The Hoosierist hardly needs to point out, doesn’t apply to Jackson County.

Q: Can you camp in Indiana state parks during the winter?
A: Though rules vary from site to site, campers are, for the most part, welcome to pitch their tents in the middle of winter. This begs another question, though: Why would anyone want to? Even the park service’s FAQ makes it sound more forbidding than fun. Primitive campsites are available throughout the cold months, offering citizens a chance to endure (in the state’s own words) “full exposure to the elements.” No reservations are necessary, because there’s not exactly a long line of people champing at the bit to freeze. If you’re game, the safest protocol is to register at the park office so someone knows you’re there, tell a friend where you’re going, and (pro tip!) mention when you’re supposed to return. Also, see about getting a chubby friend to tag along. He’ll come in handy if you’re trapped by a freak blizzard and your camping holiday becomes an impromptu Donner Party.

Q: The Indianapolis Public Library used to lend out paintings along with books. Do they still do that?
A: These days, the library mostly sticks to conventional stuff (books, CDs, DVDs). But once upon a time, it did let you walk out the door with framed paintings, many of them prints of familiar classics. They were kept on wall racks in a room at the Central Library, where art fans could flip through them the same way stoners flip through black-light posters at Spencer’s Gifts. The practice ended in the early ’90s. According to an old-timer at the Central Library, it was a cheap way for patrons to maintain an ever-changing home gallery. “As it was explained to me, people would use it to rotate the art on their walls,” he says. No word on what kind of fine you paid for an overdue Picasso.

Have Indiana-related questions? Send them to