7/13/2017 10:39:00 AM Brothers wander the Wabash Noblitts start at Wabash, navigate 228 miles back home to Hutsonville.
Home are the sailors from the sea, or at least the Wabash River. Terry Noblitt mans the bridge while Arron Noblitt goes ashore at Hutsonville after the two brothers completed a four-day journey down the Wabash. (Tom Compton photo)
Growing up along the Wabash River, many wonder about where it starts and where it ends, and while maps and Google images can show the exact point, it is still not the same as traveling down the river.
For brothers Terry and Arron Noblitt, is has been a lifetime dream to travel the length of the river. So on June 12, the two brothers drove to Wabash, Ind., put their jon-style bass boat in the river and proceeded back home to Hutsonville.
"I always wanted to make a trip like this," said Arron Noblitt. "I have been up and down the Wabash all my life, but not more than a few miles from Hutsonville.
Wabash, Ind., southwest of Fort Wayne, is considered the starting point of the river, at least for navigation by boat. The two started their 228-mile journey using the motor on low speed and mostly for navigation.
With the heavy spring rains and flooding, much of the river was still high. Arron remarked it would have been nice to see more along the shore line if the water had been lower. But as it was, the two saw a lot of bridges, and eagles.
Terry is an amateur photographer and captured a lot of photographs of eagles living along the Wabash.
"I was surprised by the number of bridges, railroad and highway," he said.
The two kept a video diary of their trip, which they posted to Facebook from their cell phone when they had a good connection.
As they passed Logansport, Ind., they encountered shallows and bumped a few rocks with the motor.
A day's worth of journey under their belts, the two camped along the shore and fished overnight.
Day 2 found them in a area of poor cell service and bad thunderstorms. Not seeing any recent posts, family and friends were posting concerns on Facebook.
At West Lafayette, Ind., they pulled ashore for fuel. As they traveled south, they continued to see eagles and the odd variety of items one sees along the river.
Near Attica they saw older bridge pilings made of stones. When they stopped for fuel, a local, Jerry Gallow, offered them a ride to the gas station.
They made it past the power plant at Cayuga, Ind., by the end of Day 2 with only a little rain at the end of the day.
Day 3 started out as the "best" day yet, announced Terry on his video post. They counted eight eagles.
A running joke through the video diary was Arron's bare feet that kept showing up in the video, taken from the small boat. Hygiene also got to be concern for the two brothers as eagles were replaced by buzzards circling overhead.
Over night there was a heavy thunder storm and a lot of rain fell. The two stayed dry in their tent, but everything in the boat got soaked. They also discovered the bilge pump did not work and had to bail out the water before continuing down river.
The overnight storm had raised the river, and they started to see Asian carp jumping as they passed by. Life along the river was also more evident as they got nearer to Terre Haute. Campsites, old trucks and school buses were seen. A few heron and more eagles were seen. In all Terry estimated they saw around 70 eagles on their trip.
Passing by North Terre Haute they saw the fort site of William Henry Harrison, and the gold dome of the county courthouse. They also hit a narrow area of river where the water measured 60 feet on the depth finder. It is a dangerous area, as strong eddies have been known to turn boats and capsize them.
As they continued down the river, the call of home pushed the two travelers a little faster. Passing by Darwin, they noted the ferry cables were still in place and that it could be back in use when the water went down.
Getting closer to home, they passed by Goat Island. Terry remembered his father telling stories about the large island in the middle of the river.
As the evening of the fourth day came to a close, phone calls were made and troops were mobilized to welcome home the two travelers as they came ashore at Hutsonville just before dark. Family and friends gathered along the shore to welcome them home.
The two had hopes of traveling down to the Ohio River, but that will have to wait for another time, as Arron had to get back home.
Terry, stopping by the coffee house or loading up for a few hours of fishing on the river, turns his thoughts south to what adventures lay beyond.