Discovering Dillsboro, Indiana

Part One: Changing Rural

The Dillsboro Branch Library invites the public to experience a special Smithsonian curated traveling exhibit: “Crossroads: Change in Rural America”. For six weeks this fall, the library, located just off US50 in Dearborn County, Indiana, will host an interactive display as part of Indiana Humanities Museum on Main Street program. Dillsboro was selected to be the first of six sites in the state to host this free event designed to spark conversation about and promote understanding of the history, changes, and the future hopes of these special communities.

For generations, much of the country’s prosperity stemmed from rural America. Still, large numbers of folks from farms and small towns moved away from their communities and family land. Young people and even entire families relocated to growing cities that were desperate for those workers seeking higher wages and greater opportunity. That migration took its toll on once close-knit areas. In spite of only 3.5% of the country being deemed ‘urban’, the percentage of people living in rural areas dropped from 60% in 1900 to only 17% today.

The “Crossroads” exhibit examines this significant change and its long lasting impact on the communities and families left behind. Visitors to the Dillsboro Branch Library will take the elevator not merely to the lower level of the building but through time as they learn about the many changes that have shaped rural areas and small towns like Dillsboro.

To sample a little of Crossroads: Change in Rural America, please follow the link to the Indiana Humanities You Tube Channel:

Peggy Dean, the director of the Aurora Public Library District, says, “Fewer people make their living through agriculture now, so that’s one of the big things we’re focusing on with our local content. We’re adding, we’re focusing on the role of transportation in driving some changes to this area.”

“US 50 used to go right through downtown. North Street to Bank Street was Route 50,” says Dillsboro Branch Manager Cathy Wilkymacky, “so moving it out to the outskirts of town did have an impact on the community itself. But just overall transportation changes: I-74, 275 to Northern Kentucky, added onto the Route 50 shift just changed the dynamics of shopping and where people can work, where they can live and that sort of thing.”

Mrs. Dean agrees, “I-74 shifted the growth in Dearborn County to the northern half because that was such an easy commute to Cincinnati, so some of those things we will have in our local content.”

She continues, “They asked us to focus on 1950 and forward for the majority of the display, but we’re still going to do a little bit of the history of Dillsboro with the sanitarium; that was early 1900s, because that helped develop and build the town, but not originate the town.”

The public is encouraged to share their own stories after viewing the six themes of the exhibit: Introduction, Change, Land, Community, Persistence, and Managing Change. There will be postcards available at the end of the tour for anyone who would like to have their memories and perspective included in the display.

In addition to these personal narratives, the exhibit will also showcase the recent photography contest, and there will be an area devoted to the winning entries of the student writing contest.

For more information please visit:

Dillsboro Branch Library of the Aurora Public Library District:

Indiana Humanities:

Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition:

Museum on Main Street:


Crossroads: Change in Rural America

This exhibition is part of Museums on Main Street, a collaborative program between Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), Indiana Humanities, and the Dillsboro Branch Library, part of the Aurora Public Library District.


September 7th through October 20th

Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm

Saturday, 10am-2pm

Sunday, 1pm-4pm


Dillsboro Public Library

10151 Library Lane

Dillsboro, IN 47018

Look for future installments to be published later this month:
Part 2: Celebrating Rural
Part 3: Growing Up Rural
Dillsboro is a small town with a lot to offer – look for special events, interesting programs and more on the Calendar Page.

2 thoughts on “Discovering Dillsboro, Indiana

  1. Thanks for this informative article, Susan! I am hoping to visit when they hold a discussion about the Barbara Kingslover book, Flight Behavior! It was the book club selection for September for the Reading Between the club.


    • The next installment of the Dillsboro series will include information about that September 26 visit with Professor Pamela Carralero. There was so much to share about Crossroads, the Heritage Festival, etc. that one post simply wasn’t enough!


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