When the traffic on the Lloyd Expressway becomes too much, take the long way home into the country and on the way to small town America. Evansville’s neighboring map dots are more than flyover towns. Only a few miles outside of city limits, these small towns are full of rich history, fun festivals, museums — you name it. Each place and its people welcome those visiting or just passing through with a warm smile, a wave, or a friendly honk, making you feel right at home.
Boonville named one of top places to raise children By Emily Patton
As the county seat of Warrick County, Indiana, Boonville’s beginnings can pique the interest of any history lover. It’s the place where one of the greatest presidents of the U.S., Abraham Lincoln, studied law that would shape the country’s future. Located less than 15 miles east of Evansville, Boonville is a beautiful small town perfect for raising a family.
Population // 6,346
Founded // 1858 (although Boonville had existed as a community for 40 years before its incorporation in 1858). The town originally was named after the Boon family. Historians disagree which Boon receives credit: Ratliff Boon, a cousin of the famous Kentuckian Daniel Boone, or Ratliff’s father, Jesse. Ratliff came to the Warrick County area in 1809 and was commissioned a lieutenant in the territorial militia in 1812. He rose to colonel of the 10th Regiment in 1817. When the county was formed in 1813, he was first county treasurer. He went on to serve as a member of the House of Representatives for five terms.
Most famous resident // Abraham Lincoln. The future president as a youth would walk from nearby Spencer County to Boonville to borrow law books from the local court system to study.
Biggest annual events // Downtown Square Flare and Boo. The first annual Downtown Square Flare was held in June 2006. The event includes food booths, a car Cruise In event, and fun for children. Every Halloween, Boonville hosts Boo, a safe trick or treating event that draws families from the surrounding areas.
Best hidden secret // Boonville was recently named the ninth best city for young families in the state of Indiana. In addition, Boonville was recognized as the most affordable place in Indiana for homebuyers with home values at $90,600.
What makes your city or town unique // Boonville opened one of the first splash parks in the area in July 2006, which brings people from all around to City Lake Park complex. The splash park lets children of all ages play and beat the heat in the summer months.
Newburgh offers opportunity for shopping and more By Nathan Blackford
In 1850, Newburgh, Indiana, was one of the largest river ports between Cincinnati and New Orleans. But the railroad arrived too late, and the town’s prosperity vanished. Instead, it became a bedroom community for nearby Evansville. But because it remained dormant for so many years, Newburgh retains a nostalgic charm with many historic buildings still looking much as they did at the time of the Civil War.
Population // 3,325
Founded // 1803 by John Sprinkle. The town was originally known as Sprinklesburg.
Biggest historical moment // On July 18, 1862, Newburgh was the first town north of the Mason-Dixon Line to be captured by the Confederate forces during the Civil War. Brig. Gen. Adam R. “Stovepipe” Johnson, with a guerrilla band, crossed the Ohio River and confiscated supplies and ammunition without a shot being fired.
Town Manager Lori Buehlman says in recent times, the biggest change to Newburgh has been the new greenway, called the Rivertown Trail. “It changed the makeup of our town completely,” says Buehlman.
Most Famous Former Resident // Michael Rosenbaum, who starred as Lex Luthor on the TV show “Smallville” and has acted in several movies.
Biggest Annual Events // “The town does not technically host any of them,” says Buehlman. “But the Historic Newburgh Wine, Art and Jazz Festival is big in May, the Fiddler Fest has been the longest running event, and the Ghost Walks are incredibly popular in October. And we are quickly becoming the destination for all kinds of walks and runs.”
Most Notable Building // Preservation Hall. Built as a church in 1851, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. In 1965, the town purchased the building from the church to be used as a Town Hall. It served as the seat of government and focal point of the downtown until July 2006. In 2007, the 200 State St. building was completely restored and rehabilitated with the assistance of a $500,000 Office of Community and Rural Affairs Community Focus Fund Grant.
Best Hidden Secret // “The wonderful shops and places to eat here,” says Buehlman.
Worst Disaster // Nov. 6, 2005, tornado. The storm hit the northern edge of town, destroying several homes and other buildings. “That had a huge impact,” says Buehlman. “We have gone through numerous safety training exercises. Many new safety policies have been implemented because of that.”
Gone but Not Forgotten // The Old Country Store. “It was an icon of Newburgh, but unfortunately, it closed,” says Buehlman. “I know they are looking for a new owner. And we’ve also had a lot of other buildings go through change here recently.”
Major Ongoing Projects // “We just got done with a $250,000 Safe Routes to School sidewalk project,” says Buehlman. “When we get out of the winter season, we’ll jump back into construction again. We’ve got sidewalks on the north side of Jennings Street and on both sides of State Street. And we’ve got more paving to do. I’m hoping we’ll be done by July 4. Our residents have been very patient through all of this.”
Planned future projects // Walmart has proposed a new store inside the town’s corporate limits on Old Indiana 662. “That rezoning application landed on my desk Jan. 7,” says Buehlman. “This is not something the town of Newburgh has ever seen before. That is something we will be looking at. It is causing quite a lot of interest at the moment.”
Welcome to the Neighborhood
Poseyville offers small-town community feel By Cathy Powers
Nestled between family farms and cornfields, Poseyville, Indiana, has been an incorporated town for 175 years. With no stoplights and low crime, it’s a shining example of small town Indiana — a close-knit community where everyone is a neighbor.
Population // 1,187
Founded // February 18, 1840. The town was originally named Palestine, but changed to Poseyville in 1852, in order to secure a post office. Posey County was named after the Revolutionary War General, Thomas Posey.
Biggest Historical Moment // The Chicago & Eastern Illinois and the Illinois Central Railroads intersected in Poseyville. In addition to other commerce, this led to being famous for the melons shipped from the town, even though they were actually grown in Gibson County. This is Poseyville’s best-kept secret.
Biggest annual event // The two-day Poseyville Autumnfest, a street festival which takes place the last full weekend of September, brings people together for food booths, games, entertainment, and a traditional parade down Main Street.
Worst disaster // During the blizzard of 1978, Poseyville was cut off and paralyzed for several days.
Most notable buildings // The former Bozeman-Waters National Bank building, currently a Fifth Third Bank, dates to 1924. It’s the most architecturally significant building in town, standing as a prime example of Sullivanesque design. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
St Paul’s Methodist Church, built in 1904, and the Poseyville Carnegie Public Library, constructed in 1905, also are well-known landmarks. A turn of the century banker named George Waters was instrumental in securing the Carnegie Library for Poseyville. Going through a major renovation in 2000, this library is a mainstay of the town.
Planned future projects // The Indiana Department of Transportation will be reconstructing and resurfacing Highway 68/165 that runs through Poseyville. Building improvements are also ongoing in the downtown business district.
What makes your city or town unique // Poseyville is located at Exit 12 off Interstate 64, which gives easy access to points east and west. Bruce Baker, President of the Poseyville Town Council, adds, “Poseyville offers a great quality of life. We are part of the North Posey School District, which can boast Four-Star Schools.”
Lynnville has survived two major fires By Rachel Christian
Located in the heart of coal country, Lynnville, Indiana, has survived disaster more than once. At the far northern edge of Warrick County, its rural character has always been clear. But it’s also located just north of Interstate 64 with direct access, so it remains a short drive from Evansville.
Population // 888
Founded by // John Lynn in 1869.
Worst disaster // Two fires struck the town in the 20th century. In 1906, a major fire consumed Lynnville, destroying most of Main Street. A second fire occurred in the early 1990s, and although it wasn’t as severe, it destroyed and damaged several buildings in town, including the funeral home.
Best kept secret // The Museum of the Coal Industry. Lynnville was a major coal-mining hub for decades before the mine closed down around 2004. The museum opened in 1985, and houses historical and antique objects from the industry. There also is a memorial for miners who lost their lives on the job.
Also, Lynnville Park. The land for Lynnville Park was given to the town by the owner of the nearby coal mine. The owner wanted to see the land used for recreational purposes, and today the park serves as a center for fishing, camping, and other outdoor activities. There also is an observatory on the property named Wahnsiedler Observatory. Stacy Tevault, a Town Council member who has lived in Lynnville for 24 years, says there’s been talk of creating a walking path/bike trail that would connect the park to the nearby Museum of the Coal Industry.
Biggest annual event // The Christmas Parade. Taking place in late November, Lynnville’s Christmas Parade is one of the town’s only reoccurring annual events.
Gone but not forgotten // Several local businesses, including two grocery stores and a hardware store. Betty Sanders, town native and executive vice president at Lynnville National Bank, says smaller stores like these have a hard time competing with larger ones in Evansville and Boonville. “They have to charge a little more because they can’t buy their stock in huge quantities the way bigger stores can,” says Sanders. “People would rather make the drive, and that’s hurt some businesses around here.” Still, Sanders says local businesses can thrive in Lynnville, and she used the Main Street Restaurant as an example. Family-owned, the restaurant opened its doors in the early 1990s, and has remained a town staple ever since.
Most notable building // The Lynnville National Bank. With three other branches in Chandler, Boonville, and Newburgh, the large two story brick building on Main Street serves as the bank’s headquarters. The bank first opened its doors in 1907, and the building has gone through three renovations and expansions in the years since. Charles Pemberton founded the bank and his grandson currently serves as its president.
Biggest historical event // The completion of Tecumseh Junior Senior High School. The massive fire that destroyed much of the town in 1906 may be one of Lynnville’s most historic events, but the completion of the local high school in 1982 shaped the town’s current sense of pride and community. “The students there always perform well academically and they’ve won several state championships in sports including softball and baseball,” says Tevault. Lynnville, Elberfeld, Selvin, and parts of Tennyson feed into Tecumseh High School.
Haubstadt knows how to celebrate what they have By Laura Acchiardo
Haubstadt, Indiana, the locals will tell you, is what a small town is supposed to be. With a strong tradition of neighbors helping neighbors, the town has survived even as surrounding communities have seen populations dwindle. Located near U.S. Highway 41 just north of Interstate 64, business here continues to flourish.
Population // 1,577
Founded by // Founded in 1855 by Henry Haub, the town was originally named Haub Station, and incorporated in 1913.
Biggest annual event // Sommerfest. At the end of June, residents prepare themselves to eat locally made food, drink beer at the bierstube, or see the floats in the parade. During the three-day celebration, there also is a talent show and a 5K Laufenfest run, walk, and Lil’ Dutch (kids’ run).
Best kept secret // Town Council member Kenny Reinbrecht, who has lived in Haubstadt for more than 30 years, attests to the town’s people and their strong sense of community. Haubstadt is a town with a lot of pride and for good reason. “I’m always amazed with the pride people in Haubstadt take,” says Reinbrecht. “We don’t necessarily have the best facilities in town, but we keep it up well. It’s a great place to live and raise a family. Your kids can feel safe here playing in the yard or going to school.”
Most notable building // The Haub House, residing in a building that dates back to 1900. Originally a grain warehouse, the Haub House has been a Haubstadt tradition since 1970. With a beautiful interior, it is known for serving some of the best steaks in the local area.
Worst disaster // In June 1990, a train, operated by Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX Transportation, derailed causing a town-wide power outage and destroying a large portion of buildings downtown and much of Haubstadt’s historic district. Residents then evacuated the town fearing the train carried ammonia.
New in town // Haubstadt has recently just finished building a new library, and, according to Reinbrecht, the library is something Haubstadt has wanted for the past 10 to 12 years. The old library used to be attached to Town Hall, but is now its own building on the corner of Gibson and Main Street. The library is a beautiful addition to the town and is worth stopping by to see.
Darmstadt is a small town treasure worth visiting By Laura Acchiardo
Darmstadt, Indiana, is known for its German heritage, lush woods, rich farmland, and quaint countryside. North of Evansville, it is the only other incorporated municipality in Vanderburgh County. It also is home to the Vanderburgh County 4-H Center, which brings several events to the area each year.
Population // 1,407
Founded by // Founded in 1822 and incorporated in 1973, the town of Darmstadt has a rich history and German heritage, and many current residents are related to the original settlers of the small Indiana town. “We have a sister-city in Germany named Darmstadt as well,” says town clerk-treasurer Mallory Lowe. “We’ll send Christmas cards back and forth, and we have some little artifacts from them in our town hall.”
Best-Kept Secrets // World War I International Peace Tree. Dating back to Nov. 11, 1918, Joseph Freudenburg brought the tree seedling to Darmstadt from Germany. It was planted by German immigrants and can be found on the corner of St. Joseph Avenue and Orchard Road. Relatives of Freudenburg, the Skeels family continues to take care of it to this day.
Famous residents // Darmstadt has been home to some celebrities like Richard Mourdock, the previous Indiana state treasurer, and Don Mattingly, who lived on Darmstadt Road for many years. Also resident Shirley Nicholson has become a local celebrity after writing her book in 2005 titled “Darmstadt, the Little Town that Could.”
Most notable building // The Bauer’s Grove Bauerhaus also is a favorite in the town of Darmstadt. For 134 years and seven generations, the Bauer family has offered an events venue, which caters to weddings and other formal occasions.
Oldest organization // The oldest church in Darmstadt is Trinity Lutheran Church. Located on Boonville New Harmony Road, the church was founded in 1846.
Gone but not forgotten // The Trinity Lutheran church opened a school in 1853. It had been operating until 2010 when it sadly closed.
Biggest annual event // The Frog Follies are held at Vanderburgh 4H Center, which is located in Darmstadt. Every year, antique cars roll into town and flood the streets, so they can be displayed at the show.
Historic New Harmony attracts visitors from far and wide By Emily Patton
Despite its small size, New Harmony, Indiana, is world famous. In early 19th century America, German-American members of Prophet George Rapp’s Harmony Society came from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to create the community of New Harmony in Southwestern Indiana while waiting for Christ to return. In 1825, these Harmonists sold the city to Robert Owen who invited those who believed in achieving peace through education and communal living. Today, guests from all over visit to experience New Harmony’s history and culture.
Population // 850
When Founded // 1814
Biggest historical moment // Former President William Howard Taft visited New Harmony during its centennial celebration in 1914.
Biggest Annual Events // New Harmony attracts visitors from all over the world because of its rich history and its events celebrating this heritage and culture. Heritage Artisans Days are held April 15-17 and takes visitors back in time with period musicians, artisans, and interactive shows. The First Brush of Spring Plein Art Paint Out is held April 15-18 and is an outdoor painting event attracting more than 150 artists. The Kunstfest German Festival is held Sept. 19-20 and is two days filled with live music, traditional food, historic re-enactors, crafts and gifts, and more.
Major ongoing projects // The New Harmony Way Bridge was closed in May 2012 after the White County Bridge Commission reached the decision repairs were too costly. The bridge linked White County, Illinois with Posey County, Indiana. In August 2014, Posey County Commissioners voted to accept ownership of the bridge, but haven’t yet taken it over. The goal is to reopen the bridge in hopes commerce will increase. New Harmony council members also are planning a reuse/redevelopment of the former New Harmony School property, which closed in May 2012. “We want people to know we are still open for business,” says New Harmony resident and Town Council member Andrew Wilson.
What makes your city or town unique // “New Harmony is a living, breathing community supported by arts, culture, and tourism with someone for everyone. It offers quiet, peaceful surroundings and well-preserved architectural gems, which are found nowhere else in the world. We know New Harmony is unique, because visitors describe it for us, and they come from everywhere around the globe to see and experience it,” says Wilson.
Elberfeld has a strong sense of community By Rachel Christian
Founded by German immigrants, Elberfeld, Indiana, has long been considered a hidden gem. No highway runs through it and there is no direct interstate access. The town still has its own elementary school, with students then moving on to Tecumseh High School in nearby Lynnville.
Population // 642
Founded by // Founded in 1885, Elberfeld was named after a town in Germany called Elberfelt, which was dissolved and consolidated with surrounding towns during World War II.
Biggest annual event // Kiwanis Kids Day. Sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, this annual celebration takes place in early September. It includes a parade and free activities for all the children in town.
Best kept secret // Scott Dowers, Town Council president and life-long resident, says one of the best-kept secrets about Elberfeld isn’t a restaurant or store, but the town’s strong sense of community and pride. “It’s obviously a small town, but it’s much more than that,” says Dowers. “Everyone looks out for everyone else here. When my neighbors are away, I watch their house and they do the same for me. This town has always been good at pulling together and helping people out.”
Most notable building // The old Schultz Mill. Built in 1872, the Schultz Mill was the only grain and wheat mill for miles. Dowers says the mill closed its doors in 1956, but still remained a focal point in the town due to its large size and historical significance. Don Walters, a Elberfeld local who owns several properties around the area, bought the mill in 1982. He’s been making renovations to the building and original equipment in hopes of bringing the mill back to working order.
Gone but not forgotten // Aggie’s Restaurant. Dowers says the diner, which closed several years ago, used to be a major gathering place for folks in town.
Worst natural disaster // A fire that struck the town in the 1950s. It destroyed the local hardware store and the old Elberfeld jail that also housed the fire department, says Dowers.
Most historical moment // The impact of Interstate 69. Though the building of the railroads and coal mines shaped Elberfeld’s early history, the construction and completion of I-69 — which bypasses the town — has had a tremendous impact on the community. Dowers says a lot of businesses left or went under when the highway was completed (then Interstate 164) about 15 years ago. He says he doesn’t expect many new businesses to settle in the area because of it.