Land Trust expands protected lands connected to Coca-Cola’s patented green glass

By Shawndra Miller, Central Indiana Land Trust communications manager

The Central Indiana Land Trust has added to protected lands in Putnam County with the purchase of 27 acres adjoining Fern Cliff Nature Preserve.  

The newly acquired property expands the 157-acre Fern Cliff Nature Preserve, a popular hiking spot. Fern Cliff is now separated from the 570-acre Fern Station Nature Preserve by only one forested property. The Land Trust has met with the owner of that property to express interest in conservation.

“We are delighted to be able to expand and connect these incredible Putnam County properties,” said Land Trust President Cliff Chapman. “This will allow us to turn back some of the habitat fragmentation that has occurred over time and create space for wood thrush and other declining species to thrive.”

In addition to delighting hikers and providing key habitat, Fern Cliff has unique connections to America’s cultural history: The sand responsible for the patented green color of the original Coca-Cola bottes was mined there.

Terre Haute-based Root Glass Co. purchased the land in the early 1900s to use the sandstone for making bottles for Coca-Cola. The soda manufacturer was looking for a way to stand out from the many soft drinks crowding the market. Minerals present in sand mined from the site resulted in the glass’s green color, which Coca-Cola patented in 1915, along with its iconic Coke bottle shape.

At one time, the Root Glass Co.’s Putnam County quarry produced about 20,000 tons of sandstone a year.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy and donors to the land trust’s Evergreen Fund for Nature supported the Fern Cliff Addition. The land trust will plant thousands of trees on these acres to help scrub carbon from the air and benefit forest-dwelling species.

Headquartered in the Old Northside, the Central Indiana Land Trust stewards nature preserves throughout the central third of the state. For more information or to find a preserve to explore, visit conservingindiana.org.

PHOTO ABOVE: Looking north from the Fern Cliff Addition toward Fern Station.