Ohio River Scenic Byway – IN

Details

  • DesignationNational Scenic Byway (1996)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric
  • LocationIL, IN, OH
  • Length303 of 943 total miles
Byway Visitor Information
Ohio River Scenic Byway
Statewide Byway Partners
Indiana Byways Map - Download
Visit Indiana
A costumed craftsman sharpens a blade on a foot-powered whetstone at Old Fort Steuben at the Old Fort Steuben Festival in June 2005. The First American Regiment from Springfield
Leslie Dellovade, Ohio Department of Transportation Photo

Overview

Visitors can experience a mixture of beautiful scenery and history by following along the Ohio River Scenic Byway, which meanders along the banks of the Ohio River, offering almost continuous views of the river. Along the byway, visitors will discover the history of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio through rural landscapes and quaint river communities, covering periods from Native American habitation through western settlement, affecting transportation patterns and industrialization.

Local Byway Partners

Story of the Byway

The route begins in Aurora, Indiana. Here visitors can visit the Hillforest Victorian House Museum, an Italianate-style mansion built in 1855 that overlooks the Ohio River. A National Historic Landmark is open for tours from April to December. Nature lovers will enjoy the Red Wolf Sanctuary, which preserves North American wildlife through environmental education and rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife. The weekend before Labor Day, visitors can partake in the Swiss Wine Festival, a celebration of Switzerland County’s cultural heritage in Vevay. Otherwise, visitors to Vevay can explore the Historic Hoosier Theatre, which is located in an 1837 building and offers live music and plays for an intimate theater experience, or the Switzerland County Historical Museum. Engineering lovers will enjoy visiting the Schroeder Saddletree Factory Museum, America’s only restored 19th century saddletree factory, where visitors can see antique powered machines spin into action.

Continuing west, visitors can discover southern Indiana’s Precambrian and Paleozoic history at the Falls of the Ohio State Park. Here, visitors can explore the world-renown fossil beds with fossils that date back 390 million years that remain from when southern Indiana had been covered by a saltwater sea. The interpretive center features redesigned interactive exhibits on geology, archaeology, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and ecology alongside a full-sized mammoth skeleton. Cave lovers will enjoy a stop at the Indiana Caverns in Corydon, which includes Indiana’s longest cave, ice age bones, and a walking tour with a boat ride. Those hoping to explore southern Indiana’s present offerings will love exploring the Ohio River as they pass through Crawford County. Here, visitors will have access to public access ramps near Leavenworth and Alton to enjoy boating, fishing, and waterskiing.

The route continues through Cannelton, Tell City, Troy, and Rockport. In Cannelton, visitors should be sure to check out the Cannelton Cotton Mill, built in 1849. The mill is one of the most impressive pre-Civil War mills in the Midwest and operated for over 100 years, producing military uniforms during the Civil War and both World Wars. Outdoor lovers will enjoy a stop to the Eagles Bluff Park, a scenic spot that overlooks the Cannelton Locks and Dam and offers hiking trails and picnic areas. As visitors drive through Tell City, they should try to spot the William Tell Statue, for whom the city is named, in front of the City Hall.

As the route continues west, visitors should make a stop in Historic Downtown Newburgh. The historic town offers antique shops, quaint dining establishments, and walking trails around the river, which invites visitors to relax after a day of driving along the byway. As visitors drive through Evansville, they can’t miss visiting the rich historical sites such as the LST 325, the only operational World War II landing ship in existence, Willard Library, a 1885 library featuring both an extensive genealogy collection and the famous “Grey Lady” ghost, and the Angel Mounds State Historic Site, which tells the story of the Middle Mississippian culture that inhabited this Native American site from 1000 to 1450 AD. Sports lovers should make a stop at Basse Field, the third oldest operation park in the country in Evansville before continuing to the end of the byway in Indiana in Mt. Vernon.

Driving Directions

The byway hugs the scenic Ohio River, following State Highways 156, 62, and 66 from Aurora west to Mt. Vernon before continuing into Illinois. Visitors will pass through the historic towns of Rising Sun, Belterra, Vevay, Madison, Jeffersonville, Clarksville, New Albany, Corydon, Leavenworth, Cannelton, Tell City, Rockport, Newburgh, and Evansville.

Points of Interest

  • Schroeder Saddletree Factory Museum

    The Schroeder Saddletree Factory Museum is America’s only restored 19th century saddletree factory with tours, demonstrations, and exhibits that show how the Schroeder family made saddle frames, clothespins, and other products.

  • Falls of the Ohio State Park

    The Falls of the Ohio State Park features fossil beds with 390 million year old fossils and an interpretive center that features interactive exhibits on geology, archaeology, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and ecology alongside a full-sized mammoth skeleton.

  • Angel Mounds State Historic Site

    The Angel Mounds State Historic Site tells the story of the Middle Mississippian culture that inhabited this area from 1000 to 1450 AD and is nationally recognized as one of the best preserved prehistoric Native American sites in the United States.

Itinerary

  • Historic Southeast Indiana

    Begin your journey in Lawrenceburg’s Historic District. This town is the fourth oldest city in Indiana and was the terminus for the Whitewater Canal. During the steamboat era, Lawrenceburg was a favorite port of call. Follow State Route 50 for about five miles until you reach Aurora. Wander through this historic district, settled as early as 1796, and discover a variety of architectural styles. If you love historic houses, check out the Hillforest Mansion, home to the industrialist and financier Thomas Gaff, which is characterized by broad overhangs, graceful balconies, and lovely porches.

    As you continue along State Route 50 to Vevay, be sure to stop by the rising Sun Historic District. Here, visitors can discover the historic structures built in the 1830s and 1840s during the town’s Heyday. If you love art, check out the Pendleton Art Center, featuring a fine art gallery and 25 artist’s studios. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant. In Vevay, check out the beautiful Ohio River’s riverfront at the largest town in Switzerland County. Visitors should be sure to visit the Switzerland County Courthouse, a restored neo-classical building featuring the original courtroom.

    Continue your trip on State Route 56 for 20 miles to reach Madison. Be sure to visit the James F.D. Lanier State Historic Site and the Shrewsbury-Windle House to discover 19th century architecture and style along the Ohio River. Walk along Madison’s scenic riverfront park for views of the Ohio River. At the end of the day, wander through Downtown Madison, Indiana’s largest historic district and a great place for shopping or dinner.

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