For the past few years Hoosier Hill had been a bit forboding. The summit in a clump of woods was down an overgrown trail. You took your life in your hands climbing a broken stile over a fence. And you always risked getting stuck in the mud when you pulled off the road.
That all changed in May 2005 when Kyle Cummings transformed the Indiana highpoint in ways that far exceeded all expectations as part of his Eagle Scout project.
It took all of a month from when he first approached Highpointers Club liaison Charlie Winger about fixing up the highpoint to when he completed the project. In that time he drove two hours each way to get owner Kim Gobel’s kind permission and blessing for improvements, handpainted and built a new wood sign to replace the cardboard sign on the summit with a neat hand lettered sign; got Barrett Paving in Richmond, Indiana, to donate 22 tons of gravel for the pullout and then got Knox Trucking also in Richmond to deliver it, got Lowe’s to donate wood for a bench. The Highpointers Club picked up the balance for the rest of the improvements.
Kyle got friends from school as well as his Scout Troop 820 from Lakeside Park, Kentucky, to make the improvements to the summit which included tearing down the fence, removing the stile and beat up old bench, clearing out trash and brunch, establishing a crushed stone trail to the summit, landscaping the area around the summit and planting hostra, creating a nature trail through the woods, and setting up a bat box.
1. How did you discover the problems at the Indiana highpoint to begin with?
I found out about Hoosier Hill from my scout master, Ken Henrickson, who is a highpointer. He has been to this highpoint and he told me about the condition it was in. I decided that it would be a much better project than the one I had planned to do, which was fixing up a church parking lot.
2. Have you visited other highpoints (how many)?
Yes, I have visited other high points. I have been to the top of Harney Peek in South Dakota (I think that’s the high point). That is the only one I can think of.
3. How did you find out about the Highpointers Club?
I found out about the Highpointer’s club from my scout master, Ken Henrickson, who is a highpointer.
4. What did you have do to get the owner permission to do the changes? I had to drive 2 hours to Kim Gobel’s house to have her sign a permission form I wrote up. She was really nice, and loved the Idea of fixing up the highpoint.
5. What did you have to do to get the county commissioner to approve (and place) the road sign?
The road sign that you saw in the picture has been there for a while. The road signs that I got put up are directional signs that point out how to get to Hoosier Hill. I talked to the Wayne Co. tourism bureau about the signs, and they said that they would put them up for me. Apparently there were signs like the ones that are up now, but people would take them as souvenirs.
6. What did you have to do to get the gravel poured and spread on the turnout.
I called Barrett Paving in Richmond, IN, and they said that they would donate the 22 tons of gravel, and Knox Trucking told me that they would deliver the gravel for free. They poured it at the site, and we hadn’t been working for 15 minutes when a farmer stopped by and offered to help spread the gravel. He left and returned with a Bobcat and spread the gravel for us. He did the job in 45 minutes, and it would have taken us about 4 hours.
7. What else did you do?
I removed the stile, made a nature trail, put in a picnic table and a bench, made a nice sign, spread mulch over the area, made a new logbook holder out of brick and my mailbox at home( we still haven’t got a new one), made a bat house and put it up in the high point (that should take care of any mosquito problem), and I picked up all of the trash and made it a more enjoyable place to visit.
8. Who helped?
A lot of my fellow scouts and their parents helped, along with my family and friends from school. Lowes contributed wood and hardware for the bench. The Highpointers Club contributed money for the landscaping and other projects.
9. How long did it take?
I spread the project out over two weeks, but overall I have 162.5 hours out of the 100 that are required for Eagle, and not all of those hours are mine. Everyone who helped contributed to my overall completion hours.
10. Did you encounter the highpoint mosquitos?
No, and I’m glad I didn’t, I hate mosquitoes.
11. Why did you put up a bat box?
Bat houses should be put in open areas because it is easier for bats to find, and get to. Bat houses are very helpful to camp areas and even homes because more bats = less mosquitoes.
12. What was the reaction of “locals” to your project?
The one local that I talked to thought that my project was a great idea.
13. What was the most challenging part of the project?
To be honest, the project its self wasn’t really challenging, everything ran smoothly and to my plans. The challenging part was getting all of the paperwork done after I was finished with my project.
14. What have you learned from the project?
I have learned that it doesn’t take much to make nature even more beautiful, and we wouldn’t need to make it beautiful if we didn’t mess it up in the first place. Take care of the planet!
15. Tell us about your background (e.g., have you always lived in Kentucky, your plans after graduating, etc.) I have lived in Kentucky my whole life. My interests include music (both playing instruments and listening), scouting, hiking, skateboarding, reading, video games, sports. I was a varsity member of the swimming/diving team for four years and cross country team at my high school, and I am currently finishing up my school’s first season of lacrosse ever. I plan to go into dentistry.
16. Do you have interest/plans in climbing other highpoints?
I would love to visit other high points, but I’m looking for more of a challenge than a 5 foot incline. I’m thinking something like…Mt. McKinley.
Hoosier Hill Before May 2005