Blast from the Past

There’s a history behind Indian Hill Overlook.

There’s an intriguing history behind Indian Hill Overlook Park just east of Newburgh, Indiana. Standing at the highest point along the Ohio River between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Cairo, Illinois, the overlook offers an expansive view of the Newburgh Locks and Dam, the river beyond, and Kentucky across the water.

The 17.6-acre wooded preserve — believed to be an early Native American campsite — holds stone walls and twin pillars constructed in 1933 by Evansville attorney Paul H. Schmidt and his wife, who named their estate Indian Hill. A shaded, paved trail takes you to the spot where their huge pueblo-style home once sat high above the river. Along the path are remnants of stone stairs and other signs of development now left to the imagination.

Photographs of earlier times, however, capture scenes of the craggy shore beneath the existing overlook, once called Cypress Beach. A popular spot for gatherings, fun-seekers came for picnics, dances, chicken roasts, and watermelon festivals.

Between 1888 and 1938, visitors arrived by interurban Evansville traction lines carrying passengers, freight, and coal to area towns. By 1910, the Cypress Beach Ferry and other ferries carried visitors from Kentucky to Cypress Beach. With the rise of automobiles and the demise of nearby coal mines, the traction stop in Newburgh was discontinued in 1938.

By the mid-1960s, the Indian Hill property was purchased by the government as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized plans to construct the Newburgh Locks and Dam. Now leased to the town of Newburgh, Indian Hill Overlook Park provides parking, restrooms, and picnic facilities.

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Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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