Orange County (pop. 19,840) is southeast of Martin County. It’s one of eight Orange counties in the U.S.
The county got its name from Orange County, N.C. The early settlers were Quakers who came from North Carolina to escape slavery, bringing freed slaves with them.
The county seat of Orange County is the town of Paoli (pop. 3,677). The courthouse (1850), in Greek Revival style, is the second oldest in Indiana that’s been in continuous use.
The Paoli Peaks ski area is just west of town. It has a 300-foot vertical drop, with 17 runs.
The adjacent towns of French Lick (pop. 1,807) and West Baden Springs (pop. 574) were famous mineral-spring spa resorts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
At the West Baden Springs Hotel (1902), the 200-foot dome covering the atrium was for many years the largest free-spanning dome in the U.S.
The West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs hotels, both recently restored, are now part of the French Lick Resort, which includes a casino and three golf courses.
In the early 20th century, Pluto Water, bottled at French Lick Springs, was a very popular (and strong) natural laxative.
The French Lick Scenic Railway operates between French Lick and Jasper, through Hoosier National Forest.
The French Lick West Baden Museum has “The World’s Largest Circus Diorama.”
Basketball great Larry Bird grew up in French Lick, and played at Springs Valley High School.
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