The twisting Ohio River serves as Indiana’s southern boundary. Follow the current from east to west to discover both scenic beauty and interesting attractions along the edge of the Hoosier state.
Sally McWilliams, who handles group tour sales for Dearborn County, has devised a number of imaginative group tour itineraries, many of which have hands-on elements. The southeast Indiana destination bills itself as “the perfect place to play!” for tour groups.
Group tour safety updates due to the COVID-19 pandemic are posted on the Dearborn County Convention, Visitor & Tourism Bureau’s website.
For instance, at Hillforest Victorian House Museum in Aurora, Indiana, the group capacity is 30 plus 2 for optimum social distancing. Masks are required for all visiting guests. Guests for luncheon, tea or dinner service will be seated at tables of four widely spaced throughout the double parlors and grand hall. This pertains to all tours booked through the remainder of 2020 and beyond.
“While Hillforest limits maximum capacity to maintain social distancing, they also understand some tours may struggle to meet the established minimum for group rates as the travel industry rebuilds,” McWilliams said. “As a result, Hillforest is committed to working with operators to ensure smaller tour groups can visit and enjoy the experience.”
The 1855 Italian Renaissance Mansion is just blocks from the Ohio River and was the home of industrialist and financier Thomas Gaff and his family from 1855 to 1926.
Tour the Greek Revival home of James F.D. Lanier to get a sense of what life was like in the 1840s, when the Ohio River was the gateway to the West. The mansion is located just north of the Ohio River between Vine and Elm streets. Careful interior restoration and redecoration have recaptured the mansion’s 19th-century splendor.
Lanier Mansion is part of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.
“The Lanier Mansion State Historic Site provides one of the best examples of Greek Revival architecture in the Midwest,” said Devin Payne, southeast regional director of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. “Today, visitors can explore the beautiful architecture of the home while also discovering what life was like for James F.D. Lanier and his family on the banks of the Ohio River in the mid-1800s.”
Tours for large groups are available; however, they should call ahead to schedule tours. Large groups will be divided into smaller groups of 10 people or less with staggered tour times.
New Albany, Indiana
The Second Empire mansion, built in 1867 for businessman William S. Culbertson, holds hand-painted ceilings, a carved staircase, marble fireplaces and elaborate plasterwork. No expense was spared in decorating the 25-room, 20,000-square-foot mansion. Culbertson rose from a dry good clerk to become one of the richest men in the state and New Albany’s most charitable citizen.
Culbertson Mansion is part of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites and stands as an example of the tastes, ideals and lifestyles of the late 1800s, from the servant class to the elite. Like Lanier Mansion, Culbertson Mansion has been carefully restored.
“Visitors to the Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site can explore this incredible mansion built for the once-richest man in Indiana and one of Floyd County’s most beloved philanthropists,” Payne said. “Although William Culbertson was known for giving back to his community in many ways, he spared no expense on the four-story mansion that he had constructed as a wedding present for his wife, Cornelia.”
Tours for large groups are available, but tour operators need to call ahead to schedule the tour. Large groups will be divided into smaller groups of 10 people or less with staggered tour times.
The USS LST Ship Memorial
The LST-325 — the last fully operational WWII Landing Ship, Tank (LST) — is open for tours seasonally throughout the year in its home port on the Ohio River in Evansville.
The annual river cruise of LST-325 was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tours share the vessel’s history and those who served on it. The vessel was designed to land battle-ready tanks, troops and supplies directly on to enemy shores.
To meet social distancing requirements, tours have been adjusted. Masks are required.
And more …
Other attractions to visit include:
Howard Steamboat Museum, Jeffersonville
Life on the Ohio River History Museum, Vevay