Now that I’m no longer meandering the State Fairgrounds, let’s check out another Indiana county. Clark County comes to mind because the Jeffersonville Township Public Library hosted one of the Council’s grant and information workshops last spring.
Clark County could be considered a crossroads within a state that calls itself the Crossroads of America. It lies at the junction of I-65 and I-64, so a traveler from points north often “turns the corner” near there and heads west on that lovely stretch of rolling hills toward the southwest region of Indiana. Alternatively, since Clark County is the gateway to Louisville, one might go straight on through, over the bridge, and across the Ohio River to Kentucky and points south.
Of course, this is a very Hoosier-centric view of the Falls City area because, historically, it was a gateway from Kentucky to Indiana. Settlers during the early national period came from the upland South to Kentucky and then snuck into the Land of the Indians. After the State of Virginia rewarded General George Rogers Clark and his men with land grants for their victories at Forts Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Vincennes, Clarksville was founded in 1784.
Clark is one of those southern Indiana counties where the county seat moved around quite a bit. It started out in Springville in 1801, soon moved to Jeffersonville, then to Charlestown (home of Indiana’s first governor, Jonathan Jennings), and back to Jeffersonville in 1873.
What should you see in Clark County? Some suggestions would include the Falls of the Ohio State Park (I-65, exit 0) with its fine Interpretive Center (cool photos here) . Beyond the story of George Rogers Clark, the Center delves into the ancient past with its presentation of the nearby fossil beds. Two related events are coming up very soon: the Falls Fossil Festival (Sept. 18-19) and the Clark Festival, complete with reenactment (Oct. 2).
Year round, another rich resource for Indiana history is the Howard Steamboat Museum in Jeffersonville. The Howard Shipyard built over 3000 vessels, beginning in 1834, and the Howard family’s impressive mansion now serves as a museum dedicated to the era of steamboat travel. Congratulations to the museum on successfully completing a $1 million capital campaign last year for renovation and upgrades.
Lastly, the town of Starlight in the western part of Clark County has become known for three farm attractions. Huber’s Orchard, Winery and Vineyards, the Joe Huber Family Farm and Restaurant, and Stumler’s Restaurant and Orchard all offer orchard visits, apple picking, gift shops, and — you knew this was coming — plenty of food.
I’m always pleased to have a chance to get down off those interstates and visit sites in Clark County, ever close by the Ohio River. Next time I’d like to stop at the Port of Indiana in Jeffersonville, one of our state’s three official ports. Oh, and thank you to the Indiana Department of Transportation for putting Indiana city maps on the back of the 2009/10 state road map, including a nice large one of the Falls City area.