May 1, 2010
Meandering Franklin County

There is no substitute for a real map. Like everyone else, I tend to fire up Google or Yahoo when I need to find a location, but it’s not the same thing. That, in any case, is my pathetic excuse for an error that I made a while back, namely, describing Metamora under the heading of Wayne County.

Horse-drawn canal boat in Metamora

Metamora Canal. Courtesy of Indiana Office of Tourism Development

Metamora is in Franklin County, Indiana. So, yes, I have apparently meandered Franklin County, but without knowing it. Let me try to make up for that mistake by describing Franklin County in more, and better, detail.

Situated on the eastern edge of the state, to the north of the Cincinnati metro area, Franklin County is part of the historic Whitewater Valley, once populated by the Delaware, Miami, and Illinois tribes. Incorporated in 1811, the county was named in honor of Benjamin Franklin. In the early years, the county seat, Brookville, was the home of Indiana governors and a center of industry, including mills and manufacturing. With the rise to prominence of Indianapolis, Brookville declined but surged back again with the building of the 76-mile-long Whitewater Canal from Cambridge City to Metamora to Lawrenceburg on the Ohio River.

 Fast forward to today. The year 2008 saw the official launch of the Whitewater Canal Scenic Byway, a route that begins at Hagerstown and passes through Cambridge City, Milton, Connersville, Laurel, Metamora and Brookville on its way to Lawrenceburg and the Ohio River. Six Indiana counties, including Franklin, and two Ohio counties are now members of the Whitewater Canal Byway Association and are rapidly taking on projects such as the proposed Whitewater Valley Regional Interpretive Park in Metamora. This vibrant and active initiative recently received an Indiana Humanities Council grant for research on transportation history in the Whitewater Valley, Phase 1 of an extensive plan to interpret and present the history of the region through heritage tourism. 

Oldenburg, Indiana

Oldenburg, Indiana. Courtesy of Indiana Office of Tourism Development

Franklin County’s third gem is the village of Oldenburg, yet another historic community. Settled by German Catholics and platted in 1837, this town became known as the “Village of Spires.” I have not yet meandered to Oldenburg, but maybe the Freudenfest in July would be a good time. This is a county with lots to see, and I’m eager to extend my experiences there and enjoy the attractions, especially my favorites – history, food, and shopping!

 The Franklin County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission has an excellent web site with lots of information about the area’s history and culture.

Also: Whitewater Canal Byway Association

Posted In: Miscellaneous

2 responses to “Meandering Franklin County”

  1. Phil Anderson says:

    Visit the Byway website and discover the primary route and the three loops that take you throughout the entire Whitewater Valley. There are two Ohio counties involved as well and Whitewater Canal Scenic Byway signs are being posted in Ohio along the old canal route. The enthusiasm for the Whitewater project spurred the neighbors in Ohio to develop the Presidential Pathways Scenic Byway as a sister byway in southwestern Ohio.

    There are a lot of scenic, recreational, historic, cultural heritage, and natural treasures throughout the Whitewater Valley. Look beyond tourism and create experiences of a lifetime.

  2. For those who just can’t get enough of the great historic architecture of Franklin County, Indiana Landmarks and the Ball State Center for Historic Preservation just completed an inventory of historic sites and structures in the county. A grant from the Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, and local donations will allow us to publish the survey results in a book that will be available in June 2011.

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