A local gem: Gene Stratton-Porter

For someone who...
...craves nature
...devours books
...loves photography
...believes in the power of women
...wants to uplift the local,

it was exciting to re-stumble upon the life of an incredible woman, Gene Stratton-Porter, when investigating local sites around my home in Indiana.  I felt a connection with this woman just after reading about her online, so I knew I wanted to visit her cabin as soon as the weather warmed up.

Sure enough, April 1st, which happened to be the day her cabin at Wildflower Woods opened for tours, turned out to be the most beautiful day of the year so far.  Eric and I ventured over to this historical site to learn more about the woman who...
...studied nature with a passion and worked to conserve the wild
...wrote several popular novels and turned many of them into movies
...photographed the world around her
...broke limiting gender stereotypes and became wildly successful
...made her career in northeast Indiana.


After sitting in the sun and watching the many birds flit among the trees around this site at Sylvan Lake, we took a tour of Gene-Stratton Porter's cabin and grounds, all of which she designed herself and purchased with her own earnings - certainly an accomplishment during a time when her husband had to write to the bank, telling them she had his permission to own land.

We learned that this spunky woman would put on her pants (quite the act of rebellion) and spend all day in nature, often with only her camera and notebook.  With no zoom lens at her disposal, she would sit in a branch for hours near the nest of a bluebird until it got used to her and carefully snap a close-up.

Gene Stratton-Porter wrote 12 novels in her lifetime, many which still inspire today's writers and readers.  Weaving compelling stories and characters together with nature and the environment, her style reminds me much of Barbara Kingsolver, one of my favorite contemporary novelists.  In fact, J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, listed GSP as one of her best inspirations.

Her true love, however, was writing nature studies.  Knowing that her novels were much more popular and lucrative than nature studies, she eventually made a deal with her publisher to let her write one study for every novel, and so she completed 9, in addition to other poetry and essays.

Her novels became so popular that Hollywood wanted to turn many of them into movies, but Gene couldn't stand the thought of her stories being misrepresented, so she moved out to Hollywood herself and became one of the first women owners of a movie production company.  Her most popular book, A Girl of the Limberlost, has now been turned into a movie 4 times.


It's funny how we are often unaware of the places of interest in our own area.  I vaguely remembered this place from a time I came with my sister's Girl Scout troop when I was very young, but I had never thought of visiting since then.  I am so glad we made the effort to explore the cabin, grounds, and life of Gene Stratton-Porter.  I walked away with a book tucked under my arm that I can't wait to read and a whole lot of inspiration from this creative, confident, inspiring woman.


Are there any sites in your area that you may have overlooked, but just might love visiting?