The name elicits an eerie feeling. You may have heard of ghost towns that have been turned into popular tourist destinations, like Bodie, California and Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado. But did you know that Indiana is home to over 50 ghost towns? Abandoned, demolished, and in some cases returned to their natural states, these ghost towns exist throughout the Hoosier state.
Why were these towns abandoned? In some instances, their purpose was short-lived. A town might have sprung up in response to the needs of a nearby railroad, canal, or stagecoach route. When that transportation line was discontinued, the towns were no longer needed.
Other towns sprang up to support local factories. If the town’s main factory closed, workers left in search of new jobs. The towns quickly emptied and sometimes didn’t survive.
Other towns never lived up to their founders’ expectations. Take the example of Corwin, Indiana, in Tippecanoe County. Corwin was platted in 1856 when a new railroad line was laid nearby.
Founders expected the town to become prosperous through the support of the railroad’s operations. Unfortunately, no one wanted to live there. Just a few short miles away, settlers flocked to the town of Romney instead.
Within a few years, it had become apparent that Corwin was not a sustainable town. With hopes dashed, the small town was simply abandoned. For a long time, a grain silo was all that marked the spot of the failed town. Today, nothing remains of the town of Corwin.
In southern Indiana lie the remains of the town of Hindostan Falls. Complete with stories of hauntings, Hindostan Falls is a local legend. The town was incorporated in Martin County along the White River. In the early 1800s, it was a bustling stop along the stagecoach route from New Albany to Vincennes. Today, there is virtually no physical trace of the town.
In the early 1800s, Hindostan Falls boasted one of the largest populations in rural Southern Indiana. It was the prosperous center of a lucrative stagecoach route. The town’s future seemed assured. In 1920, Hindostan Falls reached its peak in population, with a whopping 1,200 residents.
Most of these families lived on houseboats along the White River. That all changed overnight when a tragic combination of disease and economic crisis dealt the town its ultimate death blow.
A ferocious contagious illness swept through town. Historians believe the residents likely succumbed to cholera or yellow fever. The attack was brutal. Entire families died. Victims were buried in mass graves. Their homes were burned to the ground in an effort to halt the spread of the illness. By the time the disease had run its course, half the town was dead.
Right on the heels of this major disaster, an economic depression hit the area. Work was scarce. Residents who had not died in the epidemic quickly packed their bags and left the town. By 1830, the entire town had been abandoned.
Today, Hindostan Falls is a state fishing and recreation facility. No trace of the town remains, save a few etchings in the rock bed. For the most part, nature has reclaimed the town. Some visitors to the park claim that it is haunted by the town’s former residents.
Long forgotten by most Hoosiers, Indiana’s ghost towns offer a glimpse into the state’s rich history. Each dilapidated building and abandoned town has its own fascinating story to tell about the early days of life in Indiana.