Indiana: Orange County

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.

Night skiing is popular.

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.

Hotel rooms face the atrium.

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.”

1,100 square feet

Basketball great Larry Bird grew up in French Lick, and played at Springs Valley High School.

NEXT: LAWRENCE COUNTY

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Indiana: Vigo County

Vigo County (pop. 107,848) is south of Parke County, on the border with Illinois. It’s the only Vigo County in the U.S.

The county was named for Colonel Francis Vigo (1747-1836), an Italian-American who helped American forces during the Revolutionary War.

Statue in Vincennes

The county seat of Vigo County is the city of Terre Haute (pop. 60,785). Terre Haute means “highland” in French.

Vigo County Courthouse (1883)

Terre Haute was known as “The Crossroads of America” because of the meeting of U.S. Route 40 (San Francisco to Atlantic City) and U.S. Route 41 (Copper Harbor, Michigan, to Miami).

Indiana State University, founded in 1865 as Indiana State Normal School, is in Terre Haute. It now has about 13,000 students.

Larry Bird statue and Larry Bird (ISU ’76-’79)

Terre Haute is also the home of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, established in 1874. It is one of America’s most prestigious schools specializing in engineering, mathematics, and science.

The Indiana Theatre (1922) in Terre Haute was an early example of an atmospheric theater, designed by architect John Eberson. It is now open for concerts, movies, and special events.

Built for vaudeville and silent movies

Labor-union leader Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) was born and raised in Terre Haute. He was a five-time Socialist Party candidate for president of the United States. His home is now a museum.

Terre Haute’s industrial history includes steel mills, distilleries, and food processing. In 1953, its Quaker Maid plant was called “the largest food-processing plant under one roof.”

Clabber Girl is still based in Terre Haute.

The Swope Art Museum, established in 1942, is known for its collection of works by American artists such as Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and Edward Hopper.

And Andy Warhol

In 1913, a tornado killed 21 people in Terre Haute and destroyed or damaged more than 300 homes.

The LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute is one of the world’s few purpose-built cross country courses. It was built on a reclaimed coal mine.

NEXT: CLAY COUNTY

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