Friday, December 18, 2009

A day and night in Metamora, Ind.

I spent a long day and another night recently in Metamora, an 1838 canal town in southeastern Indiana that prides itself on being such a well-kept secret. The hamlet has much charm and has taken advantage of its association with the Whitewater River and Canal by developing a tourist-magnet merchants district of boutiques and novelty stores, many of which are made of logs, enhancing its throwback veneer. Local folks like to say you step back a bit in time when you visit Metamora.

There's also a grist mill, a wooden aqueduct over the canal (which it claims is the only wooden aqueduct in all of the United States) and two locks and dams. During the yuletide season, beginning right around Thanksgiving, the townsfolk dress up the merchants district with seasonal lights and decorations. They bring out the horse-drawn carriages to shuttle tourists and convert their weekend "Cowboys on the Loose" simulated shootout drama to a group of cowboy-hat-wearing carolers. Think Nashville, Ind. (if you've ever been there) ... only older and not as expansive.

The image at the top is a view of the storied Duck Creek Aqueduct (with the barn where the horses used to pull the canal boat are kept in the background) as taken from near the merchants district. I converted the image to B/W and applied an infrared enhancement filter.

With that as a setup, here are some images I brought back with me from my visit there.

Above: Some visitors and/or townspeople joined Santa and a few of the carol-minstrel cowboys for some singing on one of the street corners.

Above: The caroling cowboys in full voice.

Above: This image began as a very under-exposed (unintentional) shot of the locks and dam east of town. To bring some life to it, I heavily boosted the lumination in Photoshop to give it some definition, and it left me with a very grainy image, which I especially liked after converting it to B/W.

Above: The sun's reflection in the canal that, with the help of a polarizing filter, rendered an image that reminded me of a van Gogh painting.

Above: A wide-angle lens capture of the grist mill in the background. The mill helps give definition to smoke billowing from a fire in a metal barrel in the community sit-down warm-up area.

Above: An image to show the charm of the downtown boutiques and knick-knack stores.Above: The aqueduct from the opposite side.

Above: The aqueduct from below. On this day, when temperatures were flirting with the freezing mark, icicles that had formed overnight were still dangling in the morning when I got there.

Above: A daytime shot of a house along the canal between the downtown area and the aqueduct. A nighttime capture of this same structure appears below.Above: A row of candy canes flanking the path in the park adjacent to the grist mill and water wheel ... on the other side of the path is the gazebo (pictured below at night).

Above: Outside another of the downtown stores, a scene that struck me as a bit Rockwellian.Above: Peering inside one of the shops at night.

Above: The gazebo in the community park adjacent to the grist mill and Whitewater Canal Water Wheel.

Above: The railroad track along the canal just before total dark.Above: Two outdoor vendors working quickly to serve (left) and prepare sausage and sandwich orders.

Above: One of the shops in the Duck Creek Plaza area of the merchants district, decked out for the season.

Above: A night view of the town from across the canal.Above: Night shot of the canal-side house that appears above. The water was partly frozen, denying me a perfect reflection.Above: Night shot of a building in the downtown district, fronted with several luminarias.

To see these and more images from my visit to Metamora in 2009, follow this link to my online photo gallery:

Metamora Gallery

To see and learn more about Metamora, follow any of these links ...
The town's Web site

Metamora, Ind., Happenings (a blog)

Metamora community info

Indiana State Museum profile of the canal as one of Indiana's 12 historic sites


  1. Joe, your shots are beautiful and really capture the quaint nature of the town! We are so grateful for your sharing your pics and your experience...We are quite proud of our White Water Canal and it is one of 12 State Historic Sites which are part of the Indiana State Museum. Let us know if you want to visit any of the other sites and we'll give you directions, or find them on

  2. Kathi, I appreciate you stopping by and passing along the information; I added a link to the State Museum's Web page on the canal. In the very near future, I'll have a gallery of these and many more images from my visit to Metamora at

  3. Hi Joe
    Thanks for the very nice report on Metamora. I did want to point out that the barn you see through the aqueduct is owned by the State Historic Site and houses the horses that pull the canal boat, not the carriage horses. Come back and visit again some time, we have a really nice music festival on Labor Day weekend, and there's a steam engine that visits then as well.
    Gail Ginther

  4. Gail, thanks for stopping by. I've adjusted the information in the blog post to reflect your note about the horses. Is the Labor Day weekend the same as Canal Days? I've seen pictures taken from the 2009 Canal Days, and there are a lot of people there for that!

  5. Joe, Nope, two separate events. Canal Days is three days beginning the first Friday in October, about a month after Labor Day. The Music Festival is the Sat and Sun of Labor Day weekend. The steam engine has been coming for three weekends, from the weekend before Labor Day through the weekend after. Some very cool photo opportunities with that.