The story of the Ohio River has never been straight and clear. Like the waterway itself, the history of the river meanders and rolls, falls and loops about again. This is a river alive with the spirit of Native Americans; moving with the enterprise of frontier families, yet still learning to balance the demands of commerce with the fragility of nature.
Be forewarned – there is a robbers’ lair tucked into the banks of the Ohio River. Named Cave-In-Rock by notorious pirate and murderer Samuel Mason, this once violent site is now a peaceful addition to the Illinois State Park system. Visitors often stay in comfortable cabins while exploring the nearby iron furnace, or the Garden of the Gods.
Located in Clarksville, Indiana, the once impressive 26 foot drop in elevation along two and one half miles of the Ohio River is now an educational site where fossils more than 390 million years old are preserved. Due to the fluctuating water levels of the Ohio River, the Falls of the Ohio State Park is best visited in late summer and through early winter.
The public is invited to learn more about the Ohio River where it flows through Southeastern Indiana when independent filmmaker Dennis Neary presents his film, Take the River, at the Lawrenceburg Public Library on Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 6:00PM.
Driving along the Ohio River Scenic Byway, it is not unusual to see riverfront homes dating to the 1800s. Sometimes these homes are open to the public as pretty Bed and Breakfasts. Sometimes they have been neglected and are collapsing into the Indiana mud. And then there are the structures that have been restored and are being carefully preserved.
One excellent example of a private home being successfully rescued from a vine strangled demise is Hillforest in friendly Aurora, Indiana.
This hillside museum overlooking the Ohio River has an opulent view that the original owner Thomas Gaff must have appreciated if only from a business perspective; one of Mr. Gaff’s many financial interests was the shipping industry. That is obvious when looking at the front of the Isaiah Rogers‘ designed building – it has many unmistakable characteristics of a steamboat.
The interior is beautifully furnished with many pieces being actual Gaff family heirlooms. The tour guides are knowledgeable and willing to answer questions about the family, the many Gaff family business, some of which were located in the town of Aurora, or anything else a visitor might like to know.
Please click on the link to enjoy my 2013 slideshow/video showcasing more than 100 years of wedding dresses displayed at Hillforest, one of two public mansions in Aurora, Indiana.
This museum does charge a nominal admission fee, and is open to the general public seasonally. Arrangements can be made for small tours and is available for private functions.