Hidden Indy: The Catacombs Beneath Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Back in the early nineties, my friend Dennis Williams was a Franciscan friar. We met doing volunteer work, and once we were working on a fundraiser together and we needed folding chairs. Dennis asked the staff of Sacred Heart Church (one of the oldest and the only Franciscan church in Indy) if they would donate the use of some chairs for the fundraiser. Dennis didn’t mention until we were in the church that we were going down into the catacombs beneath to retrieve them.

We took one set of stairs into a basement area, and then another set of stairs further down, into a series of tunnels cut into the rock and dirt that wind around underneath the church. Dennis knew where he was going, but I quickly lost my bearings and would have been in trouble if I didn’t have a guide.

The tunnels were musty and creepy, even more so because tucked into nooks and crannies in the tunnels were statuary from the church, antique furniture, old church pews, and the gaudily painted equipment for their bingo/casino nights. Dennis claimed that there were tombs in the catacombs, but I’m not sure if that was true, or if he was only saying that to creep me out.

We eventually found the cache of wooden folding chairs and made our way out, and none too soon for me. I purposely chose not to volunteer to return the chairs.

PLEASE NOTE: I was in the catacombs with permission, and this was over ten years ago! Since that time the church has had a catastrophic fire and restoration, so it’s possible that the catacombs don’t exist or are empty. Please don’t get it into your head to go and visit.

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Rock in Tree (Gobbler’s Rock)

In Yellowwood State Forest, there’s a giant limestone boulder in a tree. Back in 2001, I went looking for this, because I had heard of it on RoadsideAmerica.com.

A refrigerator sized limestone rock, 40 feet high in a tree. This 1,000 pound wonder sways with the wind way up in an oak tree in the Yellow Wood state forest in southern Indiana. Did it rise with the tree’s growth? Artistic vandals? No one knows… A great excuse for a walk in the woods.

At that time, there wasn’t a photo of it on the site, so I was going to get one myself. I wandered around in the woods following the directions for several hours and ran across several hunters and horseback riders, but I never found the rock.

Since then, someone posted GPS directions on Roadside America, and now here’s a whole article about the mysterious boulders.

Gobbler's Rock

I have asked others that live there in Bloomington about this, and it turns out many have seen it. How something that large could have got there is unknown to me (my guess is a tornado). I had my GPS and recorded the location: GPS N 39*12.604, W 086*22.314.

Update: Apparently in 2006, the tree fell.

Update: Mystery author Terence Faherty published a short story called “No Mystery” based on the rock in the tree in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in April 2011 and in a short story collection called Tales of the Star Republic. In the story he gives the most plausible explanation of how the rocks got up in the tree. I won’t spoil the answer for you; you should read it for yourself.

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