Scenic and Historic Tours
With its thousands of acres of Hoosier Forest and miles and miles of winding river front, Perry County Indiana offers some of the most scenic drives in the Unidted States. The following are just a few...
Self-Guided Auto Tour - Black Route - (80 miles) 4 to 6 hours
Starting Point: Cannelton, IN [MAP]
Click on thumbnail below for large map. Right click map to save and print.
The Cannelton Historic District includes a number of residential, commercial, public, and industrial buildings. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Cannelton traces its roots to 1837 with the formation of the Cannel Coal Co. The town was surveyed in 1844 and the name "Cannelton" was formally adopted. The town's prominence is reflected in its public buildings including:
|Perry County Old Courthouse Museum on 7th Street( SR 66) was built in 1896- 1897. Jacob Bacon Hutchings was the architect. It is made of yellow brick with Bedford limestone trim. The county seat was moved to Cannelton in 1859 till 1994.|
|St. Michael's Church on 8th Street was built in 1859. It is one of the remaining structures built with sandstone quarried from the nearby hills. The spire was added in 1860, it rises 156 ft and contains four bells. One weighs 1, 060 lbs. and the others weigh 623 lbs, 336 lbs, and 119 lbs.|
|St. Luke's Episcopal Church on 3rd Street was built by the American Canal Coal Co. in 1845. It is a wooden structure originally built as a meeting house for all the residents of Cannelton. Over the years it has served the Unitarians, Methodists, Roman Catholics as well as Episcopalians.|
Take SR 66 (East) out of Cannelton to:
Cannelton Locks and Dams create a "lake" 114 miles long, stretching from Cannelton, IN to Louisville, KY. This uninterrupted stretch of water provides some of the most beautiful scenery for the boater. (For detailed infrmation n the Locks and Dam, visit the Cannelton section of our Attractions section.)
An Alternate View
|Continue on SR 66 (East) to:
Lafayette Spring is the site of a ship wreck. The 67 year old Marquis de Lafayette of France, his son, and the former governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby were heading up river toward Louisville. Their vessel struck an underwater snag around midnight during a storm. The boat was sinking rapidly as the deckhands loaded the passengers into skiffs. They made it safely to the bank and spent the night at Lafayette Springs
The Plane Crash Memorial: A Narrative
Continue on SR 66 (East).
Air Crash Memorial Site , March 17, 1960 . The Chicago, IL to Miami, FL Lockheed Electra carrying 57 passengers and a crew of 6 plunged into the earth killing all on board. The plane fell apart in - air as engine, wing, and plane parts were strewn over a two mile area in Perry County. The plane's cruising speed was 406 mph and it is estimated that the plane was traveling nearly 66 mph as it's fuselage plunged nose first into a bean field at Millstone, burying it 50 ft. into the earth.
|Go back to SR 66 (East) through Tobinsport.
Turn left (North) on Highwater Road (CR 1) to SR 66. Turn right (East) on SR 66. Turn left (North) onto German Ridge Rd: The Rome to Vincennes Trace ran with highway 66 at German Ridge Rd. It was a foot trail used frequently since before 1805. German Ridge Recreational Area has swimming, picnicing and hiking.
Perry County's First Courthouse
|Go back to SR 66 (East) to Rome :
Rome Courthouse was built in 1818-1819. The county seat was moved from Troy in 1818, Rome served as the county seat until 1859.
Continue on SR 66 (East) for another half mile to:
The largest log house with two chimneys is made of two original log buildings: The Springer House from east of Dexter , and a building from near St. Mark. They were dismantled, moved and rebuilt on this site in 1991.
|Continue on SR 66 (East) through Dexter. Turn Right (East) onto Dexter-Magnet Rd.(CR 27) all the way to Magnet .
SIDE TRIP : Turn right on Unison Rd (CR 146) and around to the left to Parks Rd (CR 36) to:
Ten Civil War grave markers are located at this site. On August 14, 1865, four months after the close of the Civil War, Union soldiers from Ohio boarded the USS Argosy #3 and started home. On August 21 a storm drove the Argosy ashore at this point and the boilers exploded. Nine or ten men were killed. Bert Fenn a local historian found information which suggested that one of the ten said to have been buried here actually lived until reaching Louisville where he died.
|Continue on Parks Rd(CR 36) to:
Magnet was first called Dodson's Landing in 1820 after John Dodson who operated a woodyard for steamboats. In the 1830s Jess Martin tookover the woodyard and it then became Martin's Landing. He owned a widely regarded coon-dog named Rono. When the dog died it was buried near the center of the docking area. The Job Hatfield family arrived with a store boat around 1842. He became the post master when the post office opened on July 29, 1857, it was named Rono. On February 24, 1899 the name was changed to Magnet; the office was closed in early 1990s.
Continue through Magnet (North) on Dexter-Magnet Rd (CR 27), on the right is:
In 1857 the Hatfields built a stone building which was used as a smoke house in which they processed meat for sale on a commercial scale. This continued into the mid- 1870s. The foundation for this structure is the foundation for this house on the North end of Magnet.
||Continue up the hill on Dexter-Magnet Rd. (CR 27)
Slaughtering the animals for smoking left nearly half of the carcass as offal. When this thawed and ripened in the early spring a large colony of buzzards arrived for the feast. Thus the origin for the name, Buzzards' Roost , for the hill north of Magnet.
Continue down to the bottom of the hill:
A few hundred yards from here on the right was Galey's Landing . It was an important shipping port for many years. In 1858 there lived a man and his four sons named Prater a quarter mile from the river on the left. Today there is a pile of foundation stones with some of them laid in a straight line, and the Prather spring is still flowing. They were horse thieves. The sons went out to nearby states and stole fine horses, then brought them back to old man Prather. Everybody said old man Prather was a good judge of horse flesh. They kept the animals in a rocky canyon which came to be called Penitentiary Rock until ready to sell them. They were sold in distant states for gold only. Eventually, the law caught up with them. They were tried in the Perry County Circuit Court, convicted and taken to the penitentiary at Jeffersonville. All died in prison except one son, who when released, came back and dug up a chest full of the gold. He left in a skiff at Galey's Landing.
Continue west on Leopold Rd (CR 34), turn left (South) onto Old Highway 37, turn left (East) on Hwy 70, turn right (South) immediately onto Tiger Rd (CR 21), turn left (South) onto Gerald Rd (CR 10), onto Deer Creek Rd (CR 5)., turn right (West) onto SR 66 at Rocky Point and back to Cannelton.
Self-Guided Auto Tour - Red Route - (80 Miles) 4 to 6 hours
|Starting Point: Tell City, IN [MAP] Click on thumbnail t the left for large map. Right click map to save and print.|
The Tell City Historical Society is located in the old Post Office Building at 516 Main Street. It is open by appointment only. The Post Office was constructed in 1937.
|Tell City Pretzel Co. was originally called the Gloor pretzel, then later Kessler's Tell City Pretzels and now Tell City Pretzel. The Gloor Pretzel was actually a sideline with the Gloor Bakery. Alex Kessler was an apprentice baker at Gloor's. Kessler's Bakery specialized in baked breads and other sweets until it went into the baking of pretzels exclusively.|
|The William Tell Statue was commissioned by August Corbin in honor of Tell City's namesake as a gift to the city. Tell City National Bank gave the foundation to the city in honor of the bank's 100th birthday.|
Take SR 66 (West) to Troy :
||The Nester House located on Water Street, was completed by John G Heinzle in 1853. The old native sandstone block building was first used as a grocery store with residence on the second floor, after Heinzle's death in 1871, his widow, Elizabeth, married Jacob Nester in 1874 They operated it as a hotel and residence from 1886 and sold it in 1896. This may be the oldest building left in Troy. The current owners are calling their home "Riverplace".|
St. Pius Church was built in 1881-1884. The work was supervised by Father Conrad Ackerman, O.S. B., who was assigned as pastor in May 1876. The steeple measures 142 ft tall, the walls are 18 inches thick, the tower walls are 38 inches thick on the first floor. The town clock in the tower is one of the few hand-wound clocks in the country.
Take SR 66 (West) past Troy to:
Return to Troy on SR 66, turn left (North) on SR 545, travel about 1 mile past the Anderson River Bridge if desired, turn right onto CR 950N (Gravel Rd) for about a mile to: (no visible remenents remain)
John D. Williamson erected a water mill a short distance upstream from this little bridge in the early 1840s. Around 30-35 years later he sold it to Daniel B. Jones who operated it until shortly before his death in 1914. This was a popular picnic spot on Sunday for people from Tell City in the early years of this century. A 5 mile buggy ride, some fishing, some picnic lunch, some sparkling, and the 5 mile buggy ride home, probably the horse knowing part or all the way home.
Barger Bridge is named after Jacob Barger who owned land on both sides of the Anderson at this site. Some of his family are buried in the cemetery a half mile to the south in Spencer County.
Continue north on SR 545 for about 1 more mile if desired, turn right on CR 1075 for about 1 mile to: (no visible remenents remain)
|In 1821 Davis Lincoln purchased land on both sides of the Anderson River at this site and erected a water mill . He was a second half-cousin of Abraham Lincoln , they had the same great grandfather, John Lincoln, but different great grandmothers. Davis Lincoln probably died from cholera on the Mississippi around 1825. His widow and family (his oldest son was 15 years old at the time) continued operating the mill. On June 16, 1840 a younger son, Austin, was murdered at the mill. The murderer was not identified. A great great granddaughter of Davis Lincoln, Catherine Grigsby Wolf, died on November 13, 1995.|
Continue north on SR 545 through New Boston, turn right (East) on Huffman Rd. (CR 30) to:
A water-powered mill was built just upstream from Huffman Covered Bridge on the Spencer County side. Another water mill was torn down around 1910. A steam-powered mill was erected and ran for 15 years. The present bridge was built in 1864 under the supervision of William Washer of Troy.
|Near the center of a field nearby was a four foot tall stone structure shaped like a horseshoe around 65 feet across. It was called Troxel's Fort or Troxel's Horseshoe . Some legends say it was built by a pirate from Jean Lafitte's band around New Orleans around 1815, and had something to do with lead stolen from the mines at Galena, IL. Other legends feature its importance to horse thieves in the early 1880s in moving horses from Eastern Kentucky to west of the Mississippi.|
Continue East on Huffman Rd. (CR 30) to :
Bristow: Alexander VanWinkle owned the site before 1850. Two early roads crossed here: The Rome-Jasper Road and the Boonville- Leavenworth Road. The VanWinkle family platted and sold lots to new residents in 1875. The new name comes from Thomas Newton Bristow. He came from Cannelton after 1870. A young daughter died there in 1872. By 1880 he was back in Cannelton.
The Bristow Milling Company flouring mill was built within a few years after 1875 and is still operating today.
Bristow had a high school from 1908. The basketball team always gave Cannelton and Tell City a fight in the county tourney in the 1920s and 1930s.
SIDE TRIP: Take St. Meinrad-Bristow Rd (CR 154 & CR 152) West out of Bristow to SR 545. Turn right (North) on 545 to:
St. Meinrad Archabbey in nearby Spencer County is one of only two archabbeys in the United States and one of seven in the world. It is the home of a Benedictine community of monks, who have committed their lives to prayer. Living by the instruction of communal life as set down by St. Benedict in the 6th century, contemporary monks have interpreted the wisdom of this Rule of St. Benedict to keep its value alive and applicable to a new generation of men.
Saint Meinrad was founded in 1854 by monks from the Swiss Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln. They came to Indiana at the request of a local priest, Fr. Joseph Kundek, who sought German-speaking monks to assist with ministry to the growing Roman Catholic population in the area. He also encouraged them to educate local men for the priesthood.
Nearly 145 years later, the Benedictine community of monks stands more than 135 men strong. In addition to their private prayer and spiritual reading, the monks gather four times a day in the majestic Archabbey Church to pray in community; guests are invited to join them. Their work includes the operation of a graduate-level School of Theology that continues to prepare men for the priesthood and, more recently, lay students for ministry to the Church or society.
The monks also operate Abbey Press, a wholesale manufacturing and marketing company of quality religious and inspirational products for Christian families nationwide. Additionally, the monks serve the Church by working in parishes in its home archdiocese, as well as other dioceses in the Midwest. And throughout the year, the monks offer a wide-ranging program of retreats, for groups and individuals, to help all experience a closer relationship with God.
Continue on SR 545 through St. Meinrad. Turn right (East) on SR 62 to Adyeville, turn right (South) to:
Troesch Steam Engine & Antique Museum featuring antique steam engines and antiques. Open most Sundays.
go back to SR 62, continue East to SR 145, turn right (South) back to Bristow.at Bristow stay on 145 South a short distance to St. Isidore Rd (CR 32). Turn left (East) to:
Friday, October 7, 1938
Perry County's Most Historic Spot To Be Marked
Lafayette Spring Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution will place a monument in the form of a bronze plaque mounted on a huge block of sandstone, at Freeman's Corner, Perry County's most historic spot, in a ceremony tentatively set for the last Sunday in October.
George R. Wilson, historian-surveyor of Indianapolis and Prof. Ross Lockridge of Indiana University have been invited to speak in addition to Mrs. William H. Schlosser, state regent of the D.A.R. and other state officers.
Freeman's Corner in Perry County is the southeast corner of the Vincennes Tract deeded in 1803 to the United States of America by several nations of Indians in the Treaty of Ft. Wayne. The Chapter is eager to mark this historic spot, surveyed by Thomas Freeman by placing the monument on the St. John Road, a county road in Clark Township near Bristow, a quarter mile from the actual corner, which corner is almost inaccessible for the average traveler being n a deep woods not much different from the time of the original survey.
Mounted on a huge block of native sandstone the bronze plaque will be placed at an angle that the following inscription may be read by a passing motorist without alighting from his automobile: "This monument stands one fourth mile south of the southeast corner of the Historical Vincennes Tract as established by Surveyor Thomas Freeman in 1802-1803. Placed by Lafayette Spring Chapter, D.A.R. in 1938.
George R. Wilson, surveyor and historian of Indianapolis, who is particularly interested in all old surveys has made a study of the Vincennes Tract of land. He came here in 1927 to locate the corner and all of the information contained in this article was obtained from him.
The story of how there came to be a tract of land know as the "Vincennes Tract" with its Indian, French and English Association, wars, treaties and settlements and their bearing on history and surveys in Indiana constitutes interesting reading dating back almost 200 years.
In 1742 the Indians gave to the French at Vincennes by means of a "gift deed" a tract of land lying at right angles to the general trend of the Wabash River at Vincennes. In 1763 the English conquered it from the French and in 1779 General George Rogers Clark captured it from the English in his conquest of the Northwest Territory.
In 1803 the United States of America, represented by William Henry Harrison, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and Commissioner Plenipotentiary of the United States, cleared title to this land in a treaty with the Delawares, Shawnees, Potawatimies, Miamis, Eel River, Weeas, Kickapoos, Piankashaws and Kaskaskias nations of Indians made at Fort Wayne. In doing this the Government went back of all deed and former treaties and bought the land from the Indians, the remote owners.
One of the articles contained in the Treaty at Ft. Wayne, the United States agreed to furnish salt not to exceed 150 bushels, from the Salt Spring on the Saline Creek, to be divided among the Indians. Indians were allowed to fish in the rivers and cross streams on ferries free of toll during floods. At that time salt was a luxury and scarce. The Vincennes Tract includes 1,600,000 acres of land. It is 70 leagues long and 42 leagues wide
The General Land Office of the Department of the Interior at Washington, D.C. describes the land as follows:
The exact corner is between the farms of Henry Delaisse and Perry Andrews, the latter an oil operator of Vincennes who has found gas in several holes on his land and a little oil.
In speaking of his trip here to locate Freeman's Corner, Mr. Wilson said "It was a thrill few surveyors are privileged to have. Having found the range line and armed with the Freeman's original field notes which gave the distance from line tree to line tree and from creek to creek (in this care Anderson river) the search for Freeman's corner began. In an hour's time the marks of the old surveys began to appear. They grew plainer and plainer as they neared the corner and finally upon three moss covered beech trees were the figures and letters wanted. They had broadened until the lines were two inches wide and eight inches long. The half mile corner and its official witness trees were found. Finally the stone was found and south on the line 300 links was the site of the southeast corner of the Vincennes Tract with the topography and forest descriptions given by Thomas Freeman in 1802-1803.
Led by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Delaisse, who own the farm on which the corner is located the local committee visited the place and also found the cornerstone on which were the letters T.T., 24, 4s and on top was a cross. The committee also found the witness trees with the lettering and marks. Mr. Delaisse said that he has sold considerable timer from his place but because the witness trees of beech are not suited for lumber they have been spared. They are very tall having been forced to grow tall in order to reach the sunlight. Shafts of the golden sunlight cut through the dense woods at the time of the visit of the committee but there was not enough light to get good Kodak pictures.
Mr. Wilson said that he could easily imagine Thomas Freeman at his work, with his Jacob staff in his right hand, his compass swinging on his left shoulder and on his right hip, his buckskin pouch swinging from a shoulder strap containing his instructions, papers, field notes and ink horn, opened at the smaller end containing homemade ink brewed from the forest bark; another horn opened at the larger end containing dry sand to be used as a blotter; a dozen or more wild goose feathers from which to make quill pens. With him were his axmen, blazers, chainmen and in the lead a flagman wearing a red flannel shirt that he might be more easily seen.
Freeman's cooks, tent men, hunters and camp followers were nearby and there may have been a few Indian chiefs provided for in the Treaty to help. It was not a large party for Freeman speaks of a "small party." Pack horses with provisions, medicines and the Kentucky cure for snake bite were in charge of farriers or teamsters, Mr. Wilson visualized.
The white men wore buckskin trousers, raccoon caps, moccasins and other pioneer clothing. The guards carried their trusty Kentucky or Tennessee rifles and they know how to hit "either eye" of a deer, buffalo or even a squirrel. Wild game furnished the fresh meat and the streams the fish. Flint steel and "punk" supplied fires and thus the party slowly but surely blazed their way over creeks, rivers, valleys, hills, through briars, thickets and woods, snow and rain to open the way for those who came after them.
Mr. Wilson said that the old musty field notes of Freeman as written on the ground or at camp of the pioneer surveyors are interesting documents, especially to one who has followed the lines called for in them and one who has placed his transit over the very "posts" called for in the fading notes, as he had.
Most of Freeman's note books are about three inches by six inches made by hand out of fools cap paper, sewed together with thread as awkwardly as a man could do it or tied together with strips of buckskin cut as thin as a pioneer could cut them. The notes show the result of perspiration, snow, rain, pocket wear and the cruel hand of time, yet they tell a story of pioneer life no court or jury ever set aside.
Occasionally along his lines, Freeman split a sapling and a limb was returned through the body of the tree, thus a line of "peace trees" was established. In time the sapling became a deformed forest tree and did its part to preserve the location of the line. A number of people living along the Freeman lines recall seeing the "peace trees."
Peace trees should not be confused with "witness trees" as they are quite different.
In October, 1804 Ebenezer Buckinham, Jr. established the second principal meridian which extends from Ohio to the State of Michigan. When Buckinham came north from Freeman's Corner in what is now Perry County he recorded two "Beech Trees as witness trees" and thus a system began and they are the first witness trees on record.
|Freeman's Corner is a monument marking the southeast corner of the Vincennes Tract. On June 7, 1803 Indiana Governor Willliam Henry Harrison gained the Vincennes Tract (a sizable portion of northern Perry County) in a treaty with several tribes of Indians. Freeman's Corner was named after Thomas Freeman who was in charge of surveying the tract in 1804. In August 1804 Harrison treatied for the remainder of Indiana along the Ohio between the Wabash and Clarksville. The monument was erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1938.|
Continue through Apalona, Then East on Apalona Rd (CR 168) to Old Hwy. 37. Turn right (South), turn left (East) onto Branchville Rd (CR 40) to Branchville, turn right (South) onto Lancaster Rd. (CR 121), turn right (South onto Leopold-Oriole Rd. (CR 119) to:
Leopold had its beginning in 1838 with a 20x30 2-story log chapel, 2 residence rooms on the lower floor and a Catholic chapel on the second. On November 11, 1842 a 25-block plat of Leopold was recorded. A second log church was built in 1842-43. The post office was established in 1847. Most of the settlers were from Belgium, the town's name coming from King Leopold.
St. Augustine Church is dedicated to the patron saint of Father Augustus Bessonies, the founder of the church and town. The present stone church was built between 1866 and 1873.
continue south on Leopold Rd (CR 34), at Old Hwy. 37 turn left (South), Turn right (South) onto Locust Rd (CR 18) through Terry and past:
Saddle Lake is located in the Hoosier National Forest . It has a swimming beach, picnic sites, camping, and a boat ramp. The shore-line trail is a great place to see birds and other wildlife.
continue south on Azalea Rd (CR 16A) to SR 145, turn left (South) to :
St. Marks Catholic Church - Built from 1867-1869 under the direction of Father Morendt. They quarried the rock from a nearby quarry and moved it by oxen and sled. The Holy Mass of Christmas was the 1st mass said in the new church, April 25, 1869.
The Rome to Vincennes Trace ran along St. Marks Rd at St. Marks. It was a foot trail used frequently since before 1805
at St. Marks turn right (South) onto Acorn Rd (CR 12), turn right (South) onto Brushy Fork Rd (CR 11), continue back into Tell City at Hwy. 37.
The Ohio River Scenic Route in Southern Indiana
Graced with exceptional natural beauty, the 981-mile Ohio river winds its way through six states and has had an enormous impact on our nation's history.
Prehistoric peoples built towns along its shores and transported exotic materials and ceremonial items up and down the River. The Ohio was the primary way west for early settlers of the frontier. Later, with the coming of the steamboat, it became the center of the transportation and industrial revolution. Prior to the Civil War, the River had great significance as the boundary between slaves and free states, and a great deal of activity took place along the Ohio to help African-Americans find safe passage to the North. In this century, the Ohio River is used to transport the region's coal to a series of coal-fired generating plants located throughout the Ohio Valley, and is also widely used for outdoor recreational activities.
Became a National Scenic Byway in 1997... the Ohio River Scenic Route is the link that ties together this story in southern Indiana. At times hugging the river itself, the Route twists and turns its way past cypress swamps and scenic overlooks, archaeological sites and stately mansions, power plants and caves. You can visit a fascinating steamboat museum, then drive a few miles downriver to a buffalo farm, where the entire family will learn how the buffalo cut a path across southern Indiana which later served as a roadway for early settlers.
While enjoying a leisurely and scenic drive along the Route, you will discover how we, as Americans, have shaped our country. Natural sites such as state parks, caves and lakes provide outdoor recreation opportunities while telling the story of the challenges faced by early settlers as they tried to tame the land. Historic buildings and museums trace the settlement and development of the Ohio Valley from prehistoric times to the present. Experience the unique character of southern Indiana at special events and festivals such as Native American Days, the Swiss Wine Festival, Steamboat Days, and the Buffalo Festival.
The Ohio River Scenic Route reflects the attachment to traditional rural and small-town life that southern Indiana residents value. The landscape along the Route provides a pleasant escape from the sameness of today's suburban growth, while the historic architecture lends a charm and grace missing from modern strip development. As a traveler of the Route, you will enjoy agricultural countryside with well-kept barns, vineyards and orchards; vistas of rural villages dominated by church spires and historic courthouses; and thriving cities with imposing architecture.\
Tucked away in the very toe of southwestern Indiana is something you would expect to find only in our southern states: cypress swamps, complete with water lilies and rare birds. You can fish or just drift along lazily in a boat at Hovey Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area, a 4,300-acre wetland. Adjoining the lake is Twin Swamps Nature Preserve, the highest quality cypress swamp in Indiana.
Along the Ohio River Scenic Route, remnants from distinct periods of history and prehistory can often be found right next to each other. Located on a spot favored by prehistoric Indians as well as American settlers, Evansville contains Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, a 200-acre stand of virgin timber right in the middle of a city; Angel Mounds State Historic Site, site of a prehistoric Indian town; the late 19th century Reitz Home mansion; the Evansville Museum of Arts & Science with its exhibits on River transportation; and the Evansville Brewing Company, founded in 1894 and still in operation. The largest city in southern Indiana, Evansville remains the cultural center of the area, offering outstanding theatrical and musical performances on a regular basis.
Just minutes from the city of Evansville is the quaint town of Newburgh. Once a large commercial port between Cincinnati and New Orleans, Newburgh now offers a variety of unique shopping and dining opportunities in its downtown historic district overlooking the Ohio River.
The case which best typifies the frontier experience in Indiana, and even in America, is that of Abraham Lincoln's family. Motivated to cross the Ohio from Kentucky by the absence of slavery and the system of orderly distribution of land in Indiana, the Lincoln family built a farmstead along Little Pigeon Creek, not far from the Ohio River. At Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, you can see and even help with the daily chores that Abe and his family performed on the Indiana frontier. Log farm buildings are staffed during the summer months by costumed interpreters who will let you try your hand at breaking flax, splitting wood, or making butter. Across the road at Lincoln State Park, the musical drama "Young Abe Lincoln" recreates Lincoln's youth in a wooded natural setting much like what existed here in his day.
If you've always wanted to experience the dense forest that early settlers found here, spend some time in the Hoosier National Forest. The 80,000 acres of forest along the route featured four lakes, scenic drives, river overlooks, and Ohio River access sites. There are plenty of opportunities for camping, fishing, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, or just enjoying the shade and scenery.
The most ruggedly scenic part of the Ohio River Scenic Route features rock outcroppings, forested hills, caves and scenic waterways. Harrison-Crawford State Forest includes Wyandotte Woods, with its breathtaking natural escarpments overlooking the Ohio River, and Wyandotte Caves, where visitors can tour the caverns used by prehistoric people for chert mining. Passing through the Harrison-Crawford State Forest on its way to the Ohio, the Scenic Blue River is noted for its clear color, limestone bluffs dotted with cave entrances, and abundant wildlife.
One of the most progressive of its day, the Indiana State Constitution was drafted at Corydon in 1816. Corydon Capitol State Historic Site preserves the state's first capitol building, constructed of Indiana limestone, as well as other buildings associated with early government in the territory and state of Indiana.
The Falls of the Ohio, caused by the river flowing over an exposed fossil reef, was the only persistent impediment to travel and commerce along its entire length. Portaging around the Falls and the cutting of the Portland Canal in the 1830's, gave rise to the cities of New Albany, Clarksville and Jeffersonville in Indiana and Louisville in Kentucky. The Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site in New Albany preserves a 22 room French Second Empire home built in 1869 by one merchant whose wealth derived from the location. The Howard Steamboat Museum in Jeffersonville is housed in the mansion of the founder of the largest inland shipyard in the United States. It depicts the fascinating history of riverboats and their construction. The volume of boatbuilding and shipping here, led to the stabilization of the rest of the river by the locks and dams of this century.
The Falls of the Ohio State Park was recently created, though it was long recognized by scientists as a unique geological area -- a former obstacle to travel is now a place for educating the public about the natural and cultural history of the falls.
The town of Madison prospered in the early 19th century as the major riverport, railway center, and supply town outfitting pioneers moving into the old northwest. Today visitors can enjoy Madison's scenic riverfront, antiques shops and rich architectural heritage. Lanier Mansion State Historic Site is a Greek Revival home designed by architect Francis Costigan, who also designed other historic homes in Madison. At the Early American Trades Museum, visitors can view demonstrations of wheelwrighting, carpentry, blacksmithing and other trades common in a 19th century community. Just down the road, Clifty Falls State Park is known for its rugged gorges and rocky waterfalls.
Vevay (pronounced "Veevy") was settled in 1802 by French-speaking Swiss, who transformed Indiana Territory wilderness into the first commercial vineyards and winery in the United States. Swiss heritage is evident in local architecture -- from pioneer era to the modern Ogle Haus Inn.
A trolley tour of Rising Sun is the perfect way to discover history, shop for antiques and enjoy the scenery. Rising Sun's 1846 courthouse is the oldest in continuous operation in Indiana.
The most unusual of the area's river mansions is Hillforest Mansion in Aurora, built by industrialist and financier Thomas Gaff in the 1850's. Because shipping and riverboats were significant elements of the Gaff business they are reflected in the architecture of the house. Other attractions in the Lawrenceburg area include Chateau Pomije Winery, offering tours and fine dining; Perfect North Slopes with its 25 acres for ski fun during the winter; and Seagram Distillers, providing tours by appointment.
The Lincoln Heritage Trail
It's been said that to truly understand someone, you must walk a mile in his shoes. The Lincoln Heritage Trail allows travelers to gain a greater understanding of one of the nation's most revered presidents by tracing his life from his modest birthplace in Kentucky, to his frontier youth in Indiana, to his early successes as a country lawyer in Illinois. The Lincoln heritage Trail takes you through the national park properties and state historic sites that mark the places where Lincoln lived, studied, played and worked. Travel the Lincoln Heritage Trail to follow the path of the great man.
"I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County Kentucky. My parents were born in Virginia, of undistinguished families -- second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name Hanks..."
"My father...removed from Kentucky to what is now Spencer County, Indiana, in my eight year. We reached our new home about the time the State came into the Union. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up."
"At twenty one I came to Illinois, and passed the first year in Illinois -- Macon County. Then I got to New-Salem, (at that time in Sangamon, now in Menard County), where I remained a year as a sort of Clerk in a store. Then came the Black-Hawk War; and I was elected a Captain of Volunteers -- a success which gave me more pleasure than any I have had since."
Abraham Lincoln , "Not Much Of Me"
Like many great men, Abraham Lincoln began life in a humble birthplace. But while each passing year gives us new perspective and new insight into America's 16th president, the tiny cabin where he was born remains virtually unchanged. Today, the place where Lincoln began life February 12, 1809 is enshrined in a granite temple at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site. Fifty-six steps, one for each year of Lincoln's life, lead up to the entrance of the building. Before the cabin was placed in the temple, however, it was a traveling exhibit -- making appearances in such places as the Nashville Centennial in 1897 and the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901.
Near the Memorial Building is a natural feature dating from the time of Lincoln's birth: the Sinking Spring. In addition, the nearby Visitors' Center depicts the early environment of Abraham Lincoln in pioneer America through exhibits and an audio-visual production.
Knob Creek, Kentucky
"My earliest recollection...is of the Knob Creek place," President Abraham Lincoln recalled in 1860. Today, you can visit the site where the Thomas Lincoln family, including young Abraham, resided from 1811 through 1816.
On the site where the Thomas Lincoln family lived is a replicated log cabin made of material from another cabin, this one erected in 1800 and moved from an adjacent farm in 1931. Highly typical of this era, the cabin consists of log construction with a prominent chimney of log and mud.
The 1800 cabin was once the home of the Gollaher family whose young son, Austin once saved the future president from drowning in the swollen Knob Creek.
In December of 1816, due to faulty land titles and ensuing disputes, the Lincolns left Kentucky for Indiana.
Lincoln City, Indiana
Abraham Lincoln grew from boy to man in the rugged wilderness of southern Indiana. In December of 1816, Thomas Lincoln brought his family, including seven-year-old Abe, to the nineteenth state.
Eventually, the family settled on the site that now serves as the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial . Here, a working farm depicts a typical Indiana farm of the era. In addition, a trail of 12 stones leads visitors from the Cabin Site memorial to the burial site of Abe's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Each stone comes from a structure that was part of Lincoln's life, such as the store where he worked as a teenager and the cottage in Washington, D.C. where he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.
Although educational opportunities were limited in Lincoln's frontier home, the industrious boy learned all the could. In his eleventh year, he attended his first Indiana school, where the teacher loaned him "Life in Washington," a book that had a profound effect on the future president. Lincoln also read, he later said, all the books he could lay his hands on within 30 miles of his Indiana home.
New Salem, Illinois
In 1831, Abraham Lincoln settled into the tiny log-cabin village of New Salem in the place that's now Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site. He was 22 years old and had recently moved from his father's household. Lincoln lived at New Salem for six years, supporting himself by doing odd jobs, keeping store, serving as village postmaster and working as deputy county surveyor. He also continued his education here, studying grammar with the local schoolmaster and reading law books borrowed from a Springfield attorney.
While in New Salem, Lincoln began his political career, earning a spot in the state legislature. Today, Lincoln's New Salem is a state-owned historic site covering approximately 700 acres. Its centerpiece is a reconstruction of the log-cabin village that Lincoln knew. Reconstructed New Salem features 23 log buildings erected in the 1930's and 1940's by the State of Illinois, assisted by the Civilian Conservation Corps. There are homes, workshops, stores, a carding mill, and a combination saw and grist mill.
In Illinois' capital city, Lincoln lived, worked and continued to develop the ideals for which he's remembered. Today, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site preserves those memories on four city blocks. The site's centerpiece is the only home ever owned by Abraham Lincoln. Erected in 1839, the house was purchased by Lincoln in 1844 shortly after the birth of his first son, Robert. The Lincoln family lived there for 17 years, until their departure for Washington in 1861. A tour of the meticulously preserved home offers a glimpse into the way the great man lived. A short walk away are the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, where he practiced law until he left town as president-elect.
The four-block memorial also includes a stop at the Great Western Railroad Depot, the station from which Lincoln departed for Washington, and the Old State Capitol State Historic Site. Here, Lincoln gave the famous "House Divided" speech in 1858. In this same building, the president's body lay in state after his assassination. A Visitor Center with an orientation film, bookstore and information services is located at the entrance to the site.