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Indiana Bicentennial Celebration 2016

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Explore County Bicentennial Activities > Clark County Clark County

Clark County Photo
Q&A with County Coordinator Jeanne Burke and Carl Kramer

What do you consider the key accomplishment(s) of your county’s bicentennial celebration?

  • Spreading awareness of the wonderful history of Clark County and Indiana.  We are so proud of our county and of Indiana!

What Legacy Project do you most like to tell people about, and why

  • The Clark County Museum is the first county history museum in Clark County to showcase our significance in both state  and national history.

Describe a highlight or most memorable moment related to your county's bicentennial celebration.

  • Seeing Elmer Hoehn, age 100, smile as he took part in the relay race was so touching, since he had much to do with promoting Clark County for the past 60 years. Recognition is sweet!

How/where are you preserving information and artifacts related to your county's celebration?

  • The Clark County Museum will preserve artifacts and information, as well as our giant county map created for the bicentennial.

Total number of volunteers who participated.

  • About 50-60.

Estimated total attendance.

  • 300.

Clark County Legacy Projects

Clark County Facts

Clark County is a significant gateway to the state of Indiana. Clark County’s settlement began in 1783. The state of Virginia rewarded General George Rogers Clark and his regiment for their victorious capture of Forts Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Vincennes from the British by granting them 150,000 acres of land.

A small portion of this land, 1,000 acres (4.0 km2), became known as Clarksville, the first authorized American settlement in the Northwest Territory, founded the next year in 1784.

Statue of Lewis and Clark on the banks of the Ohio River, Clarksville, IN.

The area surrounding Clarksville, Indiana boasts a proud heritage with diverse elements. This area played a major part in the story of Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark and was the gathering point for the Lewis and Clark Expedition of the Louisiana Purchase.

Native Americans set up camps near the area that was to become Clarksville because of its proximity to the crossing of the Buffalo Trace across the Ohio River. John James Audubon was one of several naturalists who studied the rich variety of wildlife in the area.

You can step back in time to the Great Steamboat Era
The Howard Steamboat Museum is a beautiful 1894 home, built by premier steamboat builders, the Howards of Jeffersonville. The museum features original furnishings, brass chandeliers, stained glass windows, and intricate carvings throughout and even a grand staircase!

The mission of the Museum is to preserve the Howard family story, their mansion and the history of their shipyards and to foster an appreciation of the development of river steamboats and commerce along inland rivers.

The Great Steamboat Race

An annual event, taking place the Wednesday before the first Saturday of May, three days before the Kentucky Derby, as part of the Kentucky Derby Festival. The race was first run in 1963 and it takes place on the Ohio River in the span that runs between Louisville, Kentucky and Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Until 2009, the race was traditionally between the Belle of Louisville and the Delta Queen, although other steamboats have participated. Since 2009, the Delta Queen has been retired and the Belle of Cincinnati has taken its place in the competition. In 2012, the Belle of Louisville and Belle of Cincinnati were joined in the race by the American Queen.

Clark County helped keep Hoosiers smiling bright. During the 1920s, Clark County attracted the Colgate-Palmolive Company to the Clarksville riverfront. Colgate purchased the former Indiana Reformatory building in 1923. The company rehabilitated and adapted the building for its dedication in 1924. They stayed in business until early 2008.

Clarksville is the oldest American town in the old Northwest Territory, which included present-day Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota. Located on the Falls of the Ohio, the town was founded in 1783 by the legislature of colonial Virginia to recognize the Revolutionary War service of George Rogers Clark and the men of his small army. Clark conceived and commanded the campaign that secured the entire Territory for the new United States.

Clarksville’s earliest history can be seen in the outcrop of 300-million-year-old Devonian fossils, that make-up the Ohio River bed along the length of Clarksville’s river shore. The Interpretive Center of the Falls of the Ohio State Park, located on the site of the old Civil War muster site and hospital, Camp Joe Holt, brings visitors from all over the world.

The “Falls” was originally a series of rapids allowing the Ohio River to drop 26 feet over a distance of two and a half miles. This was the only navigational hazard over the 981 mile-length river formed by rock outcrops. Today much of the original falls have been flooded behind the McAlpine dam.

Fishing, hiking and casual walking, fossil viewing, bird watching, and picnicking are among the most common activities.

While fossil and rock collecting is not allowed to protect our resources for future generations, the park staff encourages visitors to explore and discover the many different types of fossils that can be found on the ancient sea floor. The Discovery Center button provides details about the park’s natural and cultural resources – archaeology, birding, flora, fossils, George Rogers Clark and Lewis and Clark are featured.

County Seat: Jeffersonville
Year Organized: 1801
Square Miles: 372.86

Clark County Bicentennial Committee

  • Carl Kramer, Chair
  • Jeanne Burke, Chair
  • Jim Keith
  • Roger Fisher
  • Candace Graves
  • Janes Sarles
  • Kathy Chaney
  • Sandy Grace