In the early summer of June 1901, on a stormy
night, all the citizens of Shelby County were secure in their homes. The rain began as a
slow drizzle, but around midnight the skies seem to open and a terrible rain storm
continued for hours. It was known as a "gulley-washer."
The farmers had left their plows and other farm tools in the area where they had been working. Just as the rain began they returned to their homes for the night. The next morning they returned to discover their tools has been washed away, never to be recovered. Also, they noticed a calm, yet in the distance they heard a running of water. To their amazement they discovered that a huge gorge had been formed --- 300 yards long, 100 yards across and deep enough to set a two story house. Before the rains came, the land was flat and sandy.
As news seemed to travel, people rushed to the site to observe what had occurred on that stormy night. As someone stated "that sure is a BIG DITCH," and from that moment after and for years to come, and even today it is still known as Big Ditch. The wash-out scared every body, and it has been said that Mr. Hayes, the owner of the property, was so scared that he sold the property and moved to town immediately. Farming was paralyzed a whole year due to the flood.
Later, Big Ditch became a popular place for churches, clubs and other groups to hold picnics and gatherings during the days of the horses, buggies, Model Ts and Model As.
As a few fertile years passed, the deep canyon-like walls drop straight down to a valley floor where wild grapes grew among the pine trees and brushes. A spring of cool clear water ran through the ditch with tributaries branching off from the main ditch.
In the 30s and 40s, Big Ditch was a place for Shelby County youngsters to gather for outings and have a picnic. During the 50s and beyond, due to neglect, Big Ditch was beginning to be overgrown with brush, weeds and grass. People were using it as dumping place for garbage and junk.
Today, Big Ditch is only a memory of those who visited the site. It is believed it no longer exists. If anyone has photos or can add to this writing, please email [email protected]