Mount Vernon is Posey County’s largest town, and the county seat. It is a thriving center for industry, agriculture, and transportation on the Ohio River that sports a beautiful river front park, boat access to the Ohio River, a wide variety of restaurants, great places to stay, and many nearby attractions, including fantastic hunting and fishing opportunities at the Point.
Riverbend Park sits high above the Ohio and provides a beautiful view of the river, particularly as the sun rises and sets. It boasts both an historic bandshell and a modern amphitheater, along with several playgrounds, a small fountain play area for young children to splash around in, and beautiful landscaping done by master gardeners in the local garden club.
Locals and visitors alike come down to the riverfront with their kids, if they have them, to enjoy a coffee or some ice cream, and perhaps watch the tugboats and barges go by, occasionally getting lucky and spotting an historic paddleboat on its way to or from New Orleans.The amphitheater hosts concerts and a Friday night movie series throughout the summer. With it’s romantic view of the Ohio, it has also become a favorite place for weddings.
Riverbend Park is host to several festivals and special events throughout the year, including River Days and the Fourth of July Fireworks. River Days is a large festival that takes place in early September with over 100 booths that sell a fantastic variety of food and local crafts. There is a barbecue cook-off that draws expert grillers from all over the area, an antique car show, a motorcycle show and a great parade, among other events. Children and adults alike enjoy the historical re-enactment area that features Civil War, Native American, and American Frontier exhibits.
Those who come to hunt and fish in Posey County, often stay at one of the town’s fine hotels and there are several businesses that cater to outdoor sportsmen and are happy to provide advice and information on where best to hunt and fish and any state rules and regulations that may apply.
Open for Business
The Port of Indiana at Mount Vernon is one of the largest inland ports in the nation, serving as a transportation hub for agriculture and industry. It draws many satellite businesses that make use of its services or service the port and other businesses that use it.
Due to its prime location at the convergence of two great rivers, the Mount Vernon area has some of the most fertile farmland on the planet, producing high yield cash crops such as corn and soy beans that help feed the nation and the world, provide a great boon to the local economy, and give the area much of its rural flavor.
Large, dynamic companies such as SABIC Innovative Plastics, Babcock & Wilcox, CountryMark, GAF, ADM Milling, CF Industries, Cargill, Warehouse Services Inc. (WSI), and the soon-to-be-built Midwest Fertilizer plant make this small town on the Ohio an oasis of high paying jobs in the midwest.
Temporary workers and visiting executives alike enjoy staying in Mount Vernon for its proximity to both work and local attractions such as the Point, New Harmony, and Harmonie State Park; and for its excellent hotels and convenient shopping. Mount Vernon has two grocery stores, two hardware stores, laundromats, and a wide variety of other businesses that make further travel for essentials unnecessary.
Hunting and Fishing
With it’s location on the Ohio and close proximity to the the Point, the Wabash, and Harmonie State Park, as well as its friendly and knowledgeable outfitters, Mount Vernon is the hub of Posey County’s hunting and fishing opportunities. And its great restaurants and places to stay guarantee an all-round enjoyable hunting or fishing experience.
Mount Vernon’s Downtown Historic District includes the homes of prominent early business people and large public buildings. It is dominated by the courthouse, which was built in 1878 with a Romanesque dome that reaches 119 feet above its foundation.
The old Alexandrian Free Public Library, now the town’s City Hall, is a Neo-Classic structure that was completed in 1905. The old Coliseum building, now a second courthouse and home to many county government offices, is another example of Neo-Classic architecture. It was built in 1926 as the first building in Indiana dedicated to the memory of World War I veterans.
The Hovey House, an example of Italianate architecture on the corner of Fourth and Walnut streets, was built in 1860 and was the home of Governor Alvin P. Hovey for twenty years. Unfortunately, many of the historic buildings along Main Street were allowed to crumble, but several examples still remain, including the old Alles Brothers Furniture building on West second street.
The Welborn Historic District, includes most of Walnut, Mulberry, and Locust streets between East Second and East Ninth Streets, is wher many successful business people built their homes in the mid 19th century to early 20th centuries. The architecture includes examples of Greek Revival, Italianate, Victorian, Classical Revival, Free Classic, Colonial Revival, and American Four Square styles, among others.
The Welborn District also contains several fine old churches with towering steeples, including Saint Matthew’s Catholic Church and the First Presbyterian Church and the Trinity Evangelical Church, all built in the Gothic Revival style. Saint John’s Episcopal church, perhaps the most beautiful in town, is a simple frame church painted white with bright red doors.
The College Avenue Historic District includes 18 homes on the west side of College Avenue between West Fourth Street and West Eighth Street, mostly built by leading citizens during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It includes several Queen Ann style homes, as well as the popular at the time Greek Revival and Italianate styes., as well as Free Classic, Carpenter-Builder, and Bungalow style homes. The new Alexandrian Public Library with its playground is just on the other side of the street.
First known as McFaddin’s Bluff, the town was carved out of primeval forest in 1805. The spot was chosen for its relatively high and dry location compared to the surrounding land along the river, which floods regularly. Even the catastrophic 1937 flood did little damage to Mount Vernon.
The early Mount Vernonites faced many challenges from both nature and other men. One man was killed by a panther, and bears were a danger as well back then. Although the Miami and Pottawatamies were mostly peaceful as the settlers moved in and took their lands, there were sporadic outbreaks of violence. One of the first settlers, Mrs. Cornelius Bradley, was scalped, but still managed to live to an old age. A Native American was shot while attempting to steal horses. Thirteen men from Mount Vernon were soldiers in the battle of Tippecanoe.
Despite those challenges, many of the people who originally settled McFaddin’s Bluff lived for more than 100 years. Of course they had many health advantages. They were locavores living on organically grown crops and meat they hunted themselves. Junk food was unavailable. They also spent a lot of time in nature and got a lot of exercise. Perhaps there was something in the water?
In 1816, the town was renamed Mount Vernon, after George Washington’s home on the Potomac. One of the early residents had served under the great general and wanted to honor him. By 1817, there were fifteen families living here.
The town continued to grow as the years went by. More land was cleared, nice homes replaced log cabins, and businesses sprang up. Some of those historic houses can still be seen in theWalnut/Mulberry street area.
In its early days, Mount Vernon was on the western frontier of the United States, and was like a wild west town. It was particularly known for its many saloons, which were frequented by river men plying their trade up and down the Ohio. In 1832, an infamous brawl took place between local coopers and river men that eventually left more than 30 men badly injured and gave Mount Vernon a reputation as a rough town.
On the positive side, Mount Vernon was an important stop on the Underground Railroad, providing sanctuary and a way station for many African Americans fleeing tyranny in the South.
And this small town on the Ohio was home to three Union generals during the Civil War: Alvin P. Hovey, Thomas Gamble Pitcher, and William Harrow. Hovey, for whom Hovey Lake is named, went on to become Governor of Indiana. He is buried in scenic Bellefontaine Cemetery, just north of town.
Mount Vernon today is peaceful, safe and friendly, more of an ice cream with the kids town than a wild river town on the American Frontier. Those bad old days are mostly forgotten, save for the efforts of local artists and historians.
Mount Vernon today is undergoing an exciting revitalization and hospitality has become its trademark.
Riverbend Park has attracted new, more upscale businesses like Bliss Artisan, with its craft ice creams, pizzas and coffee. Efforts are currently underway to create the Azelea Trail, which will connect Riverbend Park to Brittlebank Park. Like many small towns throughout the midwest, its historic downtown was abandoned by businesses and fell largely into ruin. Those buildings are currently in the process of being demolished to be replaced by new businesses and nice apartments and condos.
Mount Vernon is effectively the center of Posey County. Economically dynamic, with a beautiful river front, and convenient to the county’s other attractions.
But it is still a river town and proud of it. The Ohio is gorgeous and people enjoy sitting on comfortable park benches or in their cars and watching the boats go by and listening to the gentle waves lapping along the banks as the sun sets over the water. There are few things in life more enjoyable, and it’s free.
So whatever the reason for your stay in Posey County, Mount Vernon is worth a visit.