Indiana: Henry County

Henry County (pop. 49,462) is west of Wayne County. It’s one of nine Henry counties, and one of the eight named for American patriot Patrick Henry (1736-1799) of Virginia.

Henry County was the setting of Ross Lockridge, Jr.’s 1,000-page 1948 novel “Raintree County,” which is often listed among the best American novels of the 20th century.

The 1957 movie is very different.

The Henry County town of Straughn (pop. 222) is called “Waycross” in the book.

Straughn students in 1893

The county seat of Henry County is the city of New Castle (pop. 18,114). New Castle reached its peak population of 21,215 in 1970.

Henry County Courthouse (1869)

New Castle is the home of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, founded in 1962 in Indianapolis.

Moved to New Castle in 1990

The Fieldhouse at New Castle High School is the world’s largest high school gym, seating 9,325.

Built in 1955

Indiana basketball legend Steve Alford was born in New Castle in 1964 and starred at New Castle High School before playing his college ball at Indiana University. He’s now the head coach at UCLA.

1987 NCAA champions

The Steve Alford All-American Inn in New Castle has a giant sneaker in front.

Artist Robert Indiana was born (as Robert Clark) in New Castle in 1928. He was a leader in the pop art movement.

Eat/Die, 1962

In 1907, the Maxwell Auto Company built what was then the largest automobile factory in the world, in New Castle.

Later a Chrysler plant

Southwest of New Castle, the then-empty high school gymnasium in Knightstown (pop. 2,182) was used for many of the basketball scenes in the movie “Hoosiers” (1986). It’s now called Hoosier Gym.

Now available for tours

Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) was born in the unincorporated community of Millville. His brother Orville (1871-1948) was born in Dayton, Ohio.

Wilbur on right


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Indiana: Montgomery County

Montgomery County (pop. 38,124) is east of Fountain County.

It’s one of 18 Montgomery counties, and one of the 14 named for Richard Montgomery (1738-1775), a major general in the Continental Army, who led the failed 1775 invasion of Canada.

The county seat of Montgomery County is the city of Crawfordsville (pop. 15,915).

Montgomery County Courthouse

Crawfordsville had the first Carnegie Library in Indiana, in 1902. The building is now the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County.

The boys’ basketball team from Crawfordsville High School won the first Indiana High School Basketball Tournament, in 1911.

Gen. Lew Wallace (1827-1905), author of “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ” (the best-selling American novel of the 19th century), lived much of his life in Crawfordsville. His study is now open to the public as a museum.

Formerly known as the Ben-Hur Museum

The Rotary Jail Museum, dating from 1882, has a unique, two-story rotary jail. The cells are shaped like pieces of pie.

It still spins!

Wabash College, in Crawfordsville, is one of the country’s three remaining men-only liberal arts colleges.

Established in 1832

Crawfordsville native Joseph Stephen Crane (1916-1985) became an actor and restaurateur in Los Angeles. He and actress Lana Turner were married twice and divorced twice between 1942 and 1944.

Voted “Most Attractive” at Crawfordsville High School

The Crawfordsville Monster was a flying creature that was reportedly seen by Crawfordsville residents in 1891. It was later identified as a flock of birds.

Exteriors for the 1986 film “Hoosiers” were filmed in the town of New Richmond (pop. 333). It was called “Hickory” in the movie.

The town of Wingate (pop. 263) was the site of the first electric basketball scoreboard, in 1935.


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