Clarksville, Indiana

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Clarksville is a town in Clark County, Indiana, along the Ohio River as a part of the Louisville Metropolitan area. The population was 21,400 at the 2000 United States Census. The town, once a home site to George Rogers Clark, was founded in 1783 and is the oldest American town in the Northwest Territory. The town is home to the Colgate clock, one of the largest clocks in the world and the Falls of the Ohio State Park, a large fossil bed.



Clarksville is named for American Revolutionary War General George Rogers Clark who lived for a time on a point of land on the Ohio River. Founded in 1783, the town is believed to be the first true American settlement in the Northwest Territory.

The site was first used as a base of operations by George Rogers Clark during the American Revolution. In 1778 he established a post on an island at the head of the Falls of the Ohio. From there he trained his 175 man regiment for the defense to the west. After the war Clark was granted a tract of 150,000 acres (610 km2) for his services in the war. In 1783 1,000 acres (4 km2) where set aside for the development of a town, Clarksville. The same year a stockade was built and settlement began.[3]

The explorer William Clark was a younger brother of George Rogers Clark.

Renowned historian Stephen Ambrose writes of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in Undaunted Courage, "When they shook hands, the Lewis and Clark Expedition began." However, several other localities also claim to be the start of Lewis and Clark's west expedition, most notably St. Louis, Missouri.[4]

The town failed to flourish in the 1800s due to the many floods and its failed competition to build a canal around the Ohio. On Aug. 24 1805 the Indiana Territorial Legislature authorized the construction of a canal around the Falls of the Ohio at Clarksville. The first attempt failed and the investors lost their money, which was believed to have been used to finance the conspiracy of Aaron Burr. A second attempt to build a canal occurred in 1817 and again in 1820. But the race to build the canal would be lost in 1826 when the Federal Government made a large grant to build the Louisville and Portland Canal. The lack of a canal handicapped the growth of the town as the Falls of the Ohio made river transport from the city difficult.[5]

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