Southeastern Indiana

Text: D. Brent Miller • Photography: D. Brent Miller

If you are looking for roads that wind through fantastic, hilly scenery and want to encounter a little history every few miles or so, then start making plans to ride in southeastern Indiana. You'll find Native American trails, the route of Indiana's only major Civil War episode, the road to the cabin where Lewis and Clark began their epic journey in 1803 and many more rewarding sights within the area between Louisville, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

The area is alive with history
The southeast Indiana tour begins in Richmond, Indiana, an historic town on US 40 - the National Road. In addition to the National Road, two other designated highways provide links to the past in this corner of Indiana, the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail and the Chief White Eye Trail.

The John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail recognizes Indiana's only major event of the Civil War. In July 1863, Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan led 2,000 cavalrymen across the Ohio River. He followed the highways, came upon a town, captured and then plundered it before moving on. Food and fresh horses were their main targets. Some believe Morgan was heading to Indianapolis to free nearly 10,000 Confederate prisoners of war. The Indiana Militia gave pursuit, and at times were only hours behind, as they wound through southern Indiana. Eventually, the chase proceeded northeast into Ohio where Morgan was captured.

If you are a serious Civil War buff, consider riding this route. The 27 heritage sites along the trail provide a wealth of historical information about Morgan's raids. Much of the 185-mile heritage trail is on narrow, low-speed roads, but some are gravel and vision is limited at times. Historic Hoosier Hills RC&D, managers of the route, cautions travelers that restaurants and restrooms are few. Plan accordingly to visit and stop in larger communities on the route.

State Route 62 between Madison and Dillsboro is the Chief White Eye Trail, designated a state historic route in 1983 by the Indiana General Assembly. Chief White Eye - so named because his eyes were blue - was a member of the Delaware Tribe that lived in and roamed the surrounding area. If you're planning on riding the tour during the second weekend in September, plan on stopping at the Canaan Fall Festival when the community pays homage to its Native American heritage.

There is one other historical site you might want to consider visiting. It is not on the tour route, but Lewis and Clark history buffs may want to take a short detour to Clarksville, just across the river from Louisville.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the May/June 2006 back issue.