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Visitors Guide to Washington co.

Washington County Courthouse


The Washington County Courthouse in Salem, Indiana is a Richardsonian Romanesque building that was built in 1886. It is located within the Salem Downtown Historic District.

Historic Beck's Mill Gristmill


The original Beck's Mill was constructed in 1808. That facility served the needs of George Beck's family and the newly arriving settlers until approximately 1825. Then a new and enlarged Mill was reconstructed into a building of approximately 30 feet by 30 feet. The Mill was again rebuilt in 1863-64 and made into this two story structure.  The Mill continued to operate until approximately 1950.

In 2005 a group participating in the Awareness Washington County (AWC), a Washington County leadership development program, decided to explore the possibility of restoring the Mill. As a tribute to the determination of the members and their understanding of the importance of saving such a unique landmark their efforts yielded positive results where others had failed during the 50 years prior.

Beck's Mill is managed by the "Friends of Beck's Mill" a Non-Profit Organization that operates the mill with your admission fees, donations and memberships.
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Delaney Creek Park


Delaney Park is a 326 acre park with an 88 acre lake with unlimited recreational opportunities including swimming, fishing, boat rentals, nature hikes, basketball, volleyball, horseshoe pits, playground, modern and primitive camping, cabin and lodge rentals, shelter house rentals and the new Delaney Park Restaurant. Access to the Knobstone trail is available from the Delaney Creek Park Trailhead located in the rear parking area of the park.
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Knobstone Trail


The Knobstone Trail is the longest hiking trail in Indiana. Its southern terminus is located in the Deam Lake State Recreation Area. It currently ends at Delaney Creek Park near Salem, Indiana, however there are plans to eventually extend the trail another 80 miles north to Martinsville, Indiana. As it lies along the Knobstone Escarpment, it is a difficult hike, which is why many use the Knobstone Trail to prepare for hiking the Appalachian Trail.

The John Hay Center includes the following


The Stevens Memorial Museum

The Stevens Memorial Museum was built in 1970 to preserve community history and heritage. A major expansion was completed in 1995. The beautiful two-and-one-half story brick building is built of native brick from local old historic buildings. The museum features old-time law and dentist offices.
There are hundreds of native historic relics. Many Civil War mementos are included along with tools, agriculture tools and items, beautiful furniture, clothing and other displays. Visitors will find it historically educational and fulfilling in developing an association with the lifes of our ancestors.

The Pioneer Village

The Pioneer Village is an extension of the Stevens Memorial Museum and has been reconstructed as a "living village" during the 1840's era. Visitors find a visit to the village a challenge to their imagination of the way of life for early settlers. Thomas Hopper is credited with being the first settler to what is now Washington County. George Brock was the first man to settle in the immediate vicinity of Salem. From early settlements came men and women who prominently figured in the development of Washington County.

The John Hay House

The John Hay House was built in 1824 and was the birthplace of John Hay, private secretary to President Abraham Lincoln ,1861-1865, Writer/Author, 1870-1890, Life of Lincoln and many poems. Mr. Hay was also Ambassador to England; and Secretary of State under President McKinley, 1898, and President Roosevelt, 1902.

Genealogy and Historical Library

The Stevens Memorial Museum also houses the Washington County Historical Society Genealogy and Historical Library. Many researchers from all over the United States come here to work on special projects. A small library staff is available to work with researchers. The library not only contains Indiana and local records but also maintains data and records from other states. Types of data included are: family histories, church records, cemetery records, obituaries, census records, marriage records, newspapers, state and county histories and antique photographs.
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The Depot Railroad Museum

The Depot Railroad Museum stands as a tribute to and reminder of Salem’s role in organizing the railroad that served much of Indiana for 125 years.

Known as “The Hoosier Line” because its tracks were located in the state of Indiana, the "Monon Railroad" was founded because of the efforts of Salem businessmen.

The Depot Museum contains antique furniture from railroad stations, including the original waiting room benches from the Salem station that was torn down in 1982. Also, there are displays of railroad equipment and tools, signs, advertisements, signals and lanterns. A worker’s motor car and a station’s baggage wagon are on display. The Depot’s basement contains an HO scale model railroad that depicts Washington County as it was in the 1950s and 1860s. A team of volunteers is rebuilding Salem, Pekin and Campbellburg as they were a half century ago.

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Salem Speedway


The Salem Speedway has developed a strong racing heritage and tradition that continues today.  Some of the top names in open wheel and stock car competition visit the famed high banks each racing season to challenge the demanding .555 mile oval.
The Salem Speedway officially opened for business on June 22, 1947, with Tommy Hinnershitz winning the 20-lap feature event for AAA "Big Cars" in front of over 7,000 enthusiastic fans that packed the grounds for the inaugural Salem Speedway Event.

Since that day in 1947 the names of those who have been raced for the checkered flag at the Salem Speedway continues to grow. Included upon that list are racing legends such as;  Ted Horn, Troy Ruttman, Bob Seikert, Parnelli Jones, A.J. Foyt, Bobby Unser, Al Unser, Mario Andretti, Curtis Turner, Benny Parsons, Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Alan Kulwicki, Ken Schrader, Tony Stewart, Kenny Irwin, Jr., Jeff Gordon and many others.

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Blue River
 (Indiana's First State Designated Natural and Scenic River System)


The Blue River originates in Washington County northeast of Salem Indiana and flows south to form the natural boundary between Crawford County and Harrison County, Indiana. The Blue River continues south to the Ohio River. The Blue River was designated as Indiana's First State Natural and Scenic River System and is a favorite outdoor recreation destination in Indiana.

Depauw Park & Riley's Place


"Riley's Place" is located inside DePauw Park. DePauw Park is just a few blocks west of the Salem Square. Riley's Place was named after Riley Jean Tomlinson, a local toddler who accidentally drowned in a swimming pool, the park was built in 2001 and contains two and three story wooden castles and other structures for children's play along with swings, slides, and similar playground equipment.

Pekin 4th of July Parade & Celebration

Pekin Indiana is proud to claim the oldest consecutive 4th of July celebration in the United States. The first Pekin 4th of July celebration was held in 1830. From 1830-1833 the celebration was held at the homes of three different families. It mainly consisted of family picnics and meeting up with old friends. In 1883 the Washington and Clark County Fair Association was formed and the celebration was located where the Pekin Park is today.

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Campbellsburg All-American Hoedown Event

The All-American Country Hoedown takes place in Campbellsburg, Indiana. Contests and events include a Parade through town, Antique Tractor Show, Junior Miss and Miss Country Girl Pageant, talent show, Seniors Day Luncheon and Entertainment, 5k Run/Walk, Kiddie and Adult Peddle Tractor Pull, Garden Tractor Pull and Parade, Horseshoe Pitching Tournament and much more.

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John Hay Lake


John Hay Lake is a 210-acre surface area impoundment located, in the Rush Creek Valley, 6 miles northwest of Salem. The lake offers tournament fishing or just a day of leisurely angling. This primitive area is also great for observing birds and animals in their natural habitat. Lake access includes one boat ramp.

A City of Salem boat launch permit is effective for one (1) calendar year, January 1 to December 31. The permits are issued at Salem’s Clerk-Treasurer’s office and the Salem Police Department office. The launch permit is good for both Lake Salinda and John Hay Lake. A valid Indiana fishing license is also required.

Please Note: Since this is a drinking water source, the use of gasoline powered motors is banned, only electric trolling motors are allowed.

Any questions pertaining to the boat permit should be directed to the City of Salem Clerk-Treasurer’s office at 812-883-4264.

Jackson - Washington County State Forest

The Jackson - Washington County State Forest encompasses 18,000 acres in Jackson and Washington counties. The State Forest provides scenic views, old growth forest and breathtaking hiking opportunities. Within Washington County the following lakes are iin the Jackson-Washington State Forest. A valid Indiana Fishing License is required to fish at these lakes.

Spurgeon Hollow Lake (12 acres) 
Potter Lake (10 acres) 
Plattsburg Pond (8 acres)

Backcountry Hiking Trail at Spurgeon Hollow Lake

The hiking trail at Spungeon Hollow Lake runs a loop and is marked with blue blazes on the trees, and passes vistas, valleys and ridgetops. Sturdy hiking boots and drinking water are recommended. Creeks are usually high in the spring. This trail requires about 5+ hours to hike. It is a rugged and challenging 8 miles hike. For a complete topographic map of this backcountry trail and backcountry area, purchase the Little York and Kossuth quads from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Publication sales.

Lake Salinda


Lake Salinda is an 88 acre surface lake, owned by the City of Salem, located 2 miles south of Salem on S.R. 135. Salinda was once the primary drinking water source for Salem residents and is now the back-up source.Lake Salinda offers tournament fishing and serves as a popular fishing spot for area anglers. Lake access includes one boat ramp.

A City of Salem boat launch permit is effective for one (1) calendar year, January 1 to December 31. The permits are issued at Salem’s Clerk-Treasurer’s office and the Salem Police Department office. The launch permit is good for both Lake Salinda and John Hay Lake.  A valid Indiana fishing license is also required.
For your walking, running or jogging pleasures, the road from the boat launch area to the dam is marked at ¼ mile intervals, for a total of 1 ½ miles back and forth. For exercise or health reasons, you will know how far you’ve traveled.

Lake Salinda has two shelter houses, a pavilion, men’s & women’s restrooms and eight grills. You may reserve a shelter house, at no cost, by calling the City of Salem’s Mayor’s Office at 812-883-4265. Fishing, reunions, weddings and picnics are a few good reasons to take advantage of this beautiful lake area. Shop Salem for your picnic supplies and then head south two miles for a wonderful day of fun and relaxation.
Please Note: Since this is a drinking water source, the use of gasoline powered motors is banned, only electric trolling motors are allowed.

Any questions pertaining to boat launch permits should be directed to the City of Salem Clerk-Treasurer’s office at 812-883-4264.

Veteran's Trail at Lake Salinda

The Veteran's Trail at Lake Salinda is a new hiking trail at Lake Salinda. The trailhead for the park is located in the back of the Lake Salinda parking area. The trail is dedicated to those who served in the military. Contact the City of Salem Parks and Recreation Department for additional.

Old Settlers' Days Festival

Old Settlers' Days was first held on September 29th, 1875 when local settlers came together to recount in "old fashioned style" the stories, accounts and incidents of the earliest settler families in Salem.
Old Settlers' Days continues to this day to pay homage to the early settlers that migrated to the area and comemorates their roughhewn frontier lifestyles and traditions.

Old Settler's Day is held in late September on the grounds of the John Hay Center. Visitors have the opportunity to see blacksmiths at work, quilting, wood-carving and a variety of local crafts are available for purchase. Historical reenactments encourage visitors to immerse themselves into a Pioneer lifestyle if only for a few hours on a trip to Old Settlers' Days.

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LM Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival


The LM Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival is always the last weekend in February and the first weekend in March. The festival centers around an operating maple sugar camp.
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Piper Flight Museum

The Piper Flight Center Museum is located at the Salem Municipal Airport in Salem, Indiana. The Piper Flight Museum contains three vintage Piper aircraft, a flight simulator, and a display room with several display cases containing numerous Piper artifacts dating back to the early beginning of Piper Aircraft Corporation.

If you would like to visit the Piper Flight Museum or to schedule a party, meeting or special event please visit their website for addtional information.

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Salem's Carnegie Library


Salem secured a grant of $16,000 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York in February 1904 and broke ground in August of 1904. The Salem Library opened in July 1905 and is still in use today as the Salem Community Library. The Carnegie Library in Salem is one of just one hundred in the state of Indiana still being used for its original purpose. Indiana received more than 160 grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to build public libraries (more than any other state). 

Elk Creek Lake & Trailhead

Elk Creek Lake is an approximate 48 acre lake located in Washington County between Salem and Scottsburg. Go east on SR 56 from Salem to the sign for Elk Creek or Ratts Rd Turn left (south) and go 2.3 miles to Elk Creek entrance road to the Elk Creek Lake. This site also contains the Elk Creek Lake trailhead for Knobstone Trail.