Day 3: June 30, 2002
The Scenic Way Home



My stated intention was to zip along the expressway from Bowling Green to Louisville then slow to enjoy the Indiana Scenic Byway from there to Cincinnati. was such a nice day that I couldn't bring myself to ignore the call of the Kentucky Scenic Byway. At Bowling Green this is 31W running almost directly north through country that is described perfectly by the phrase "rolling hills". Not too steep and not too flat; Not too twisting and not too straight. A very enjoyable drive even when I found myself following vehicles decidedly different from those I'd been around the last couple of days. In places, the paved road ran alongside a railroad giving visible evidence of how new paths tend to follow older paths. The railroad, of course, probably followed an even older path marked by hoofs or moccasins or boots. Hoofs and moccasins have little trouble following the land's natural contours but wheels like the straight and level. This device for making paths a bit more wheel-friendly is displayed along the road near Leitchfield.

I crossed the Ohio near Brandenburg, about 30 miles south west of Louisville. This is where General Morgan entered Indiana on what turned out to be the Confederacy's most northern military penetration. The raid had started a week earlier when Morgan crossed the Cumberland into Kentucky. After five days in Indiana, the raiders entered the state of Ohio and were near the Pennsylvania line when Morgan was captured. The Confederates crossed the Ohio on two commandeered steamers and the first troops across plundered the town of Mauckport then camped while the ferrying continued. Mauckport remains but in places looks as if it may never have recovered from the wartime visit.

The morning after their arrival, Morgan's Raiders headed straight north to Corydon. Corydon was Indiana's first capitol and that alone makes it worth a visit someday. But not today. Instead, I left the official Scenic Byway to follow the river as closely as I could for awhile. As it turned out, I managed to stay quite close by working along some gravel roads in the area known as Kintner Bottoms. The pictures where the river can be seen were taken at The Narrows. The river does not appear particularly narrow here so I can't say whether or not that might be the source of the name. It's a fairly high bluff and offers a great view.

From isolated river views to dense modern development in a few of miles. This is, I believe, the newest of Indiana's riverboat casinos. Caesar's at the edge of New Albany.

There's a lot more to New Albany than a Las Vegas wannabe. Founded in 1813, it was the largest city in the state during the first half of the century. The Town Clock Church was completed in 1852 and its tall tower has been a landmark for river travelers ever since. For some travelers, the church was much more than a landmark when it served as a station on the underground railroad. The New Albany Branch of the Indiana State Bank was built in 1837 when New Albany was a bustling business center. There were foundries and boat yards and boats of every sort pulled in here. A bit of that prosperity can be sensed from the numerous mansions still standing in the Mansion Row Historic District. The best known is the Culbertson Mansion on Main Street. The mansion remains open for tours while the outside gets spruced up a bit.

Next to New Albany is the oldest (chartered 1783) town in the Northwest Territory. The town is named for founder and Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark. You would not be wrong to call this the legitimate starting point of the Lewis & Clark expedition. George's brother William was staying here when that fateful letter arrived from Meriweather Lewis and it was here the two linked up before joining the Corps of Discovery in St. Louis.

Clarksville also contains the Falls of the Ohio State Park the first (1981) National Wildlife Conservation Area. Over 265 species of birds and 125 species of fish plus the world's largest exposed Devonian Age fossil beds benefit from that designation. All this conservation with the Louisville skyline incongruously lurking in the background.

Jeffersonville is the third of the Falls Cities and no less interesting than the others. Its history actually starts with Thomas Jefferson laying out the city. Aaron Burr lived here as he plotted a sovereign state to the west and the number of boats built here is enormous. But, when it came time to select pictures, there was not a one from Jeffersonville. I know that part of the reason is that employees of the huge Jeffboat complex were on strike and the presence of pickets did not seem conducive to walking about with a camera. Another reason may be that much of the riverfront is filled with newish looking restaurants with names like Rocky's, Buckhead, & Kingfish. Nothing, I guess, that caught my interest enough to trigger a picture. Sorry.

I've driven past it many times but had never before turned into Hanover College. What a treat. A beautiful tree lined entrance and many large brick buildings surrounded by tidy expanses of grass. Maybe I should not have been surprised by the scenic campus since it is just up the road from the very scenic Clifty Falls State Park.

Madison has plenty of history and a whole lot more. The JWI Confectionary and the Broadway Hotel and Tavern are just two businesses meeting current needs with an historic edge. I've sampled both and found them both delightful. The Broadway is the oldest continuously operated family tavern in Indiana. The building dates from 1834 and much of the interior, including the carved bar, from 1852. There have been six different families involved through the current owner who has restored much of the building and has remodeled the upstairs hotel rooms. Although Madison obviously owe a lot to its abundant living history, much of its modern fame comes from the annual regatta and races held on the Ohio River.

Each of these houses can claim a spot in history although rather different ones. Barely visible through the trees is the shell of Chapman Harris's house. Chapman was a preacher and blacksmith who often found excuses to work at night. On the other side of the river, runaway slaves who heard the ringing of the hammer and anvil knew that the minister was actually sending them the "all clear" signal. The other house is the oldest existing brick home in Indiana - well preserved at around 100 years old.

Next is Vevay (vee-vee), the seat of Switzerland County. The old Presbyterian Church houses a great collection of local artifacts including the first piano brought to Indiana. The colorful mural, facing the river, is quickly becoming a well known Vevay landmark. An older landmark is Cuzz's Bar - one of the friendliest places in town.

The small town of Patriot contains the equally small Hole in the Wall carryout. The town was once home to the man who supervised the construction of Hoover Dam.

Ohio County has a nice museum in Rising Sun. Displays include the Hoosier Boy speed boat of the 1920s and the locally invented coin operated "auto-harp". The "auto-harp" had a very promising start but lost out to the player piano.

The story goes that Aurora got its name because the goddess of that name comes with the dawn - before Rising Sun. The ornate house on the hill is the Hillforest House built around 1850 and open to the public. The river view picture was taken from there and suggests just why the location was chosen.

ADDENDUM: Jun 7, 2010 - Oops!. This panel talks of the town of Aurora and three of the four pictures are of Aurora. The second picture, however, is of the Empire House Hotel in Rising Sun; the subject of the preceding panel. I've since stayed at the Empire House and, while scanning this page for something totally unrelated, cringed at the now obvious mistake.

Lawrenceburg has a Seagram's distillery, several discount liquor stores, and a reasonable complement of bars but, despite what appears on the door, this is not a place to purchase alcoholic beverages. This is Beer's Auto Sales - part business and part museum. There is an incredible collection of signs, gas pumps, and other car related memorabilia along with a car dealer's normal inventory. That inventory includes late model vehicles that you might find almost anywhere plus some less common offerings. On a recent visit, I noticed a potential customer preparing to test drive a 1964 Mustang.

The Model T Ford enshrined in front of the American Legion is Peggy. A well traveled attraction spinning and rearing its way along parade routes from 1936 until 1972.

This is where the Indiana Scenic Byway ends because this is where the state of Indiana ends. This stone was set on November 27th, 1838 after surveys by both Ohio and Indiana agreed on the spot. During the 164 intervening years, quite a few personal inscriptions have been added to those originally prescribed by the two governments.

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