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Naturally, Bluffton

...but can you identify the natural location?

It has several native American stories connected to it

Stepping out from our daily historical glance at the community where we live, here’s some views of Bluffton that you may not know.

The location is the Bluffton University Nature Preserve, specifically the steps at the north end of the preserve’s lake, near Riley Creek.

You can walk its paths from its entrance on Augsburger Road. Or, you can enter the preserve from Bixel Road's Swinging Bridge location.

The preserve own timeline goes back to the 1960s when it was known as the college farm. Prior to that it was the Thut property.

We’ll share more photos of the preserve’s artificially-created lake as we move into summer. As we continue these photo essays, we will call them “Naturally, Bluffton.”

He walked from Oklahoma

Here's one very early story connected to the preserve area when it was a farm. This one-sentence recollection comes from the late Robert Kreider. Short in detail, but powerful in substance, Kreider recalled a story of a peculiar incident told to him by his classmate Gordon Alderfer in the early 1930s.

Alderfer shared with his friends a conversation he had many years earlier with Reuben Thut, then an old man and one-time landowner of the property connected to this story. The elder Thut recalled to the younger Alderfer about his long ago meeting with a Shawnee native American who had walked from Oklahoma to see this land where he once camped.

This chance meeting occurred near the swinging bridge, known at the time as “broad waters” over the Big Riley Creek on the Bluffton University Nature Preserve.

Adding to this account comes the following story from an 1896 Bluffton News: Reuben Thut is doing a big business in the sand line. He keeps three teams going while he sells at the bank. See him if you want good sand.

And, from the Oct. 10, 1907, Bluffton News: Some interesting discoveries of Indian skeletons have been recently made in the Reuben Thut gravel quarry of which we hope to tell the News readers more later on.

Steps leading up to a view of the preserve's lake

Steps leading up to a view of the preserve's lake

Steps leading down from a view of the preserve's lake


Entrance near the parking area from Augsburger Road


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