Have you ever heard the story of the Lost River? In Indiana, there’s a river that rises around Vernon Township within Washington County that seemingly disappears for 23 miles.
This river has a very unique hydrology and the majority of the actual river flows completely underground. No one is sure how vast the river is, because the underground channels it flows through have never been fully explored. It could actually span hundreds of miles.
The start of this river seems normal enough from its origin in Washington County, but things start to get interesting as it flows over a large limestone bed which eventually sucks the river dry. The story could easily end there, were it not for what happens after the limestone absorbs the water.
Flowing through the limestone and sinkholes, the Lost River then continues to flow underground through a system of caves and caverns underneath Orleans and Paoli Townships, eventually popping back up in Orangeville.
The Lost River was once thought to reappear at the Orangeville Rise, but dye tests confirmed the water in the Orangeville Rise actually originated from nearby sinkholes. However, the Rise is a tributary of the Lost River; the two meet up where the Lost River finally springs up again, a few miles south. Unfortunately, the Lost River springs up again on private property, so the public can’t view this piece of the natural phenomenon.
Because of the unique tendencies of the Lost River, it has actually been declared a National Natural Landmark twice; once because of the unique way it sinks into the limestone, and again because of its intriguing underground river system.
Even though you can’t view much of the underground flow of the river, some open cave entrances allow you to see the water flowing below. It’s a pretty breathtaking sight.
Have you ever been to see the Lost River? Did you know something this spectacular existed in our state?