Drought reveals relics of the past in Indiana
MONUMENT CITY, Indiana (NBC) -- As much of the country continues to suffer through the worst drought in decades forecasters said this week those conditions will linger in some places through November.
As things have dried up, the drought has had an unanticipated side effect - uncovering long buried pieces of the past.
As the waters of the Salamonie Reservoir recede, the traces of Monument City, Indiana, re-emerge: bricks from demolished buildings and foundations.
“This time of year, it's very rare to see any of the spots where the towns used to be,” said Teresa Rody of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
It's a result of the intensifying drought. The area of "extreme" or "exceptional" drought has nearly doubled from 13 and a half percent in early May to almost 24 percent this week - almost one-quarter of the 48 contiguous states.
Monument City was one of three small towns submerged in 1965 when the Army Corps of Engineers built a dam and created a 28-hundred acre reservoir. About 100 residents were displaced.
Eighty-one year old Dick Roth is one of the Class of 1949's six members.
“The school didn't have a gymnasium. Our gymnasium was outside--it was a cement slab,” recalled Roth.
He now lives a mile and a half away, in a house that was moved from the town when it was flooded.
“I just didn't believe they could put that much water there. But, they did.”
At a visitor’s center, other memories are captured in an oral history. Mary Jo Bole's mother was a teacher in Monument City.
“For summer, it was a bathing suit, coveralls, my fish pole, my bicycle, my dog. I was set for the day,” said Bole.
“We want to keep that story alive for future generations.”
Officials are offering guided tours of the site, hoping more former residents will share their stories--just as people today may tell the story of this historic drought.
Dropping water levels are baring river beds and lake bottoms and revealing other relics, like a shipwreck in the Mississippi. Just like in Monument City, Mother Nature’s extremes are providing a peek into the past.