Thursday, October 31, 2013

Land For One-Time Smelter Plant Now Preserved

Finally, after 56 years of being bargained and traded for, will the beautiful hills, rocky bluffs and lush  forests of the old Bells Mines community finally have their final destination in history?
Back in 1957 family homes and farms dotted the countryside as you went past Bells Mines church, which had been there since 1891.  Today many of the family names are in the old cemetery next to where the church house used to be.  The cemetery is all that is left of this once coal mining community.

These families sold their home and land to Alcoa and moved to different places.  The buying of all the land by Alcoa was the end of this community.    The Alcoa Company had first said they were going to build a smelter plant here.  But as time went on the dream of this happening faded.  

Finally in 1998 Alcoa states that due to existing domestic smelting capacity being reduced there was no need for a new facility of this kind, and they put the land up for sale.

Kimball International Inc., bought the Alcoa timber land.  One of the nations' leading furniture makers.  They kept the land and did some take some of the timber, and used the pasture lands for grazing a cattle operation.

Finally after years of not knowing what would happened to this beautiful and perhaps endanger natural forest area, it has earned it's place in history and it's final destination. 

On October 23, 2013 - 4,241 acres of this Crittenden County property (plus 2,571 acres just across the Tradewater River in Union County) was dedicated as the newest wildlife management area and state forest. 

The Nature Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, The Forestland Group, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forest Legacy Program, Indiana Bat Conservation Fund and the Stream Mitigation Fund, are incredible partners who made this outstanding area possible. 

After all these many years, the land is finally realized for it's beauty and importance to our area.

A nice legacy for the one-time old coal mining town and community of Bells Mines, started those many years ago in the very early 1800's.  May your history live on.

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