More than 350 million years ago, all of Indiana and Kentucky were deep under a warm ocean that contained a large coral reef. Today, the remnants of that ancient reef runs from Louisville to Indianapolis. The reef is exposed at a few limestone quarries around Indiana, however in Clarksville, at the “Falls of the Ohio State Park,” visitors can see over 220 acres of exposed coral reef. No where else in the world will you find a larger exposed area of reef from this period in history.
Five distinct fossil layers can be seen at the falls, and so far, scientists have discovered over 600 fossil species on the reef. Scientists believe over a thousand different types of plants and animals lived on or near the reef when this part of the world was covered with water.
This area of Indiana is also where Lewis and Clark began their famous 1803 expedition to the Pacific Ocean. Native Americans, explorers, pioneers, and travelers have long marveled at this site. Famous visitors to the falls include Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and John James Audubon who came to sketch the birds found in the area.
Opened in 1994, the “Falls of the Ohio State Park ” in Clarksville, Indiana features an interpretive center with exhibits and displays about the falls area.