The Old National Road passes right through Richmond and Wayne County, ushering visitors through a stretch of Indiana history that dates back to the 1800s. Just retracing the steps of the early pioneers with a drive across U.S. 40 from the Ohio State Line west to Cambridge City is an adventure in and of itself, with plenty to stop and appreciate along the way. In fact, 15 interpretive panels punctuate the route through Indiana to tell the stories of the settlement that slowly took place as America migrated west, 4 of those are within Wayne County, be sure to stop and visit them all!
A locally beloved landmark that honors pioneer mothers who traveled in covered wagons along the Old National Road, the Madonna of the Trail statue stands proudly in front of the entrance to Glen Miller Park on East Main at 22nd Street in Richmond. As you journey west of Richmond on U.S. 40, keep your eyes peeled for the Centerville Arches, a set of five distinctive architectural features built into the charming brick rowhouses during the early 19th century to allow access to the buildings behind. Also in Centerville, you’ll spy the Salisbury Courthouse constructed in 1812, the oldest existing courthouse in the state (tours are available by appointment).
Packed with fascinating exhibits and displays, it’s easy to spend a captivating day near downtown Richmond and within the Starr Historic District by exploring the Wayne County Historical Museum. A vast repository of holdings from the personal collections of late local philanthropist Julia M. Gaar with additional contributions from many other local residents, the museum maintains the oldest log school house in the county, an exquisitely furnished 1880 dollhouse, antique cars, and one of two authentic Egyptian mummies in town, the other is housed at Joseph Moore Museum of Natural History.
For Wayne County history of a different tune, check out the Gennett Walk of Fame. During its early 20th century heyday, Gennett Records hosted some the preeminent jazz, gospel, blues and country recording artists of the time. A series of album-shaped panels in the Whitewater Gorge informs and educates visitors about the procession of famous musicians who cut records right here in Richmond.
North of Richmond on U.S. 27, the Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site & Interpretive Center in Fountain City reveals an insider look at what many consider to be the “Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.” Over a period of several decades, nearly 2,000 freedom seekers found shelter in the Coffins’ 1837 Federal-style Quaker home during their harrowing escape from slavery in the South to emancipation in the North.
And the rest, as they say, is history. For more info on historical attractions in Richmond and Wayne County, visit our Museums & History page.