Colleges new Rivers Institute
sees role reaching locally, worldwide
Underground Railroad river crossing,
plein air event planned
(May 2005) The Rivers Institute at Hanover
College is planning two significant events this year that will begin
to define its mission and purpose for the community, according to newly
hired director Dennis Wichelns.
by Don Ward
Wichelns of California
takes over his new post at
Hanover College on June 1.
Wichelns, an international expert on water resources,
was hired in March to head the newly formed research organization, which
was funded in 2004 by a five-year, $11.4 million grant from the Lilly
Endowment. Wichelns, an economist for the California Water Institute
and professor at California State University, Fresno, takes over his
new post in Hanover on June 1.
On May 21, the Institute will sponsor a private Underground Railroad
river crossing with several representatives from its partners
located throughout the region. The event could be later developed into
a regular tourism event to help interpret the Underground Railroad history
of the area, said Molly Dodge, the Institutes external relations
A second event, open to the public, is the Great River Paint Out, a
plein air painting weekend to take place Sept. 17-18 at Hanover College.
Artists will be invited to spend the weekend painting the Ohio River
Valley and other scenes. It will include a plein air exhibition and
sale and Saturday night bonfire.
Although we will be working with research clients worldwide, we
want to have a good relationship with the cities of Hanover and Madison,
and we plan to sponsor a series of events, such as speakers and workshops,
that will help introduce us to the public, Wichelns said during
an April 8 interview at the college.
The Underground Railroad event, for example, illustrates the importance
of the river in local history, he said, but it also draws in a number
of partners to work with the Institute on various levels.
The Underground Railroad crossing will leave from Preston
Plantation downriver in Trimble County, Ky., on a customized barge and
travel upriver to Hanover Beach. American Commercial Lines and Jeffboat,
both in Jeffersonville, Ind., are providing the vessel, while the U.S.
Coast Guard will supply the chase boat, Dodge said.
The event will include 18 docent class members from the newly opened
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, plus representatives
from Historic Madison Inc., Eleutherian College in Lancaster, the Jefferson
County Historical Society, Madison tourism office, Preston Plantation,
Historic Landmarks of Indiana, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources,
the Indiana representative to the National Park Services Freedom
Trails initiative, and scholars from the University of Louisville and
the University of Cincinnati. The day-long event includes lunch at St.
Stephens Church in Hanover.
Its a good mix of people that come to us from a historical
and scholarly perspective, but also from a cultural and heritage tourism
perspective, Dodge said.
The mission of the Rivers Institute is to seek out research opportunities
that can involve Hanover College faculty and students, and to become
a clearinghouse of information related to rivers. Its mission
is to study rivers through the disciplines of the liberal arts in three
areas culture,. economics and science.
For more information on the Rivers Institute
and its programs, call (812) 866-6846 or visit: www.riversinstitute.org.
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