NORTH SALEM — McCloud Nature Park turns 10 this year. Paul Miner has been researching that area's history for the anniversary celebration planned for May 4.
The Hendricks County Parks Board vice president plans to touch upon some of the earliest-known accounts of the area that became McCloud. That includes Native American encampments and a mill that once operated there. Of all Miner's research, though, the era he found the most information on was of Frank Davidson.
Davidson was a Danville-based attorney who bought hundreds of acres — including where McCloud is now — and built a resort-like setting around the turn of the 20th century.
He was born in Ladoga but grew up in North Salem. A football star at the then Butler College, when its campus was in Irvington, Davidson was on the team that beat Purdue for the state championship. He graduated in 1892 and earned his diploma from the Indiana Law School in 1896.
Davidson went to become a prominent Indianapolis attorney in the early 1900s. Some of his bigger clients included Western Union and Indiana Bell.
Such prestige allowed Davidson to buy large amounts of farm land in the 1930s, including where McCloud Nature Park is now. He eventually owned some 500 acres in both Hendricks and Putnam counties — much more than McCloud's 232 acres.
Over time Davidson built a lodge and cabins, and added walking trails, a driving range, and tennis courts. Over the years thousands of people visited there for everything from class and family reunions to weddings. Despite that Miner never found one photograph from that era.
Much of his information was gleaned from a North Salem correspondent's column printed in the Danville Republican newspaper. Miner still holds out hope of finding a photo, but isn't overly optimistic given the passage of time.
"Anyone now who would've been out there when it was first open would be quite a senior citizen by now," he said. "But at the time, it was very popular."