Brown County, Indiana, is celebrated for its gorgeous scenery, and its sprinkling of covered bridges. This drive takes you to some of the highlights of the county.
Begin in Columbus, Indiana
Begin in Columbus, which is a city that serves as an open-air architectural museum. Forward thinking civic leaders made incentives for those who were contemplating new buildings, to work with celebrated architects. As a result, they have architecture by many of the best known architects of the later twentieth century, including: I.M. Pei’s public library, Eliel Saarinen’s church, Henry Moore’s Large Arch, Gunnar Birkert’s church, Gunnar Birkert’s school, Eero Saarinen’s bank, Myron Goldsmith’s newspaper office, Dale Chihuly’s Yellow Chandelier and Persians, Jean Tinguley’s Chaos I, Edward Charles Bassett’s City Hall, and Koetter Kim’s Commons.
While in Columbus, enjoy a meal at Amazing Joe’s or Papa’s Grill.
Through Clarksdale, Indiana
Next, head west on IN 46, through the hamlet of Stony Lonesome, which earned the name because of its isolated location and rocky terrain. You will continue through Clarksdale, which was named in honor of the explorer George Rogers Clark. At Gnaw Bone you have a chance to visit the Bear Wallow Distillery, the Brown County Winery, and Brown County Antique Mall. You can count on a good meal at the Gnaw Bone Food & Fuel.
Find Mail Pouch Barns on Your Way to Nashville, Indiana
For Mail Pouch Barn aficionados, there are two old painted Chew Mail Pouch barns in the Nashville area. One is on this drive, on the south side of 46, after Stoney Lonesome but before Clarksdale, about a mile after the North Salem United Methodist Church. It is hard to see when the trees are in full leaf. The other is about five miles west of Nashville, also on 47, on the right side of the highway as you are going southwest. The barn is on a side road (Stray Deer Lane). The Mail Pouch sign faces south. Just the one end has the painted sign, on a black background. Mail Pouch advertising barns have been deemed historic landmarks.
Ramp Creek Covered Bridge
Along your way toward Nashville, or on your way back as you enter Brown County State Park, be sure to see the Ramp Creek Covered Bridge. It was built by Henry Wolf in 1838, and moved to its current location in 1932. It’s the only double tunnel bridge in Indiana (and one of only four in the entire United States). It is also the oldest covered bridge still standing in the state of Indiana. You can find Ramp Creek Covered Bridge at the North Entrance of the Brown County State Park, crossing over Salt Creek.
Visiting Nashville, Indiana
Continue on to Nashville, the heart of Brown County. Begin at the Brown County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau at 10 N Van Buren Street, to get an overview of the county and of Nashville. Great maps and pamphlets are available here. Then explore the shops in this art colony, and visit the quaint Pioneer Museum, to experience Brown County the way it was when the early settlers first arrived. Nashville is the perfect town for strolling or wandering, and there are some great restaurants, such as Hobnob and Bigwoods. For something lighter, try Sweetea’s Tea Shop or Fearrin’s Ice Cream and Yogurt.
To Covered Bridge Road
Take 135 north on a pretty, wooded, winding route to Covered Bridge Road, in order to visit to the Bean Blossom Covered Bridge, which was built by Captain Joseph Balsey in 1880. One of only three Howe Single Through Truss bridges known to still exist, the Bean Blossom formerly was on the main road to Nashville, until State Road 135 bypassed it in 1936. It is open to one-lane traffic that compiles with its clearances: Deck width of 11.8 feet, vertical clearance above deck: 11.5 feet. For country dining, take Gaitsville Road east to The Farmhouse Café and Tea Room.
Brown County State Park
Next, explore the expansive Brown County State Park. The majestic hills of the park are nicknamed the Little Smoky Mountains. Visit the lovely Abe Martin Lodge, drive the Kim Hubbard Ridge, see the hamlet of Maumee, and soak in the scenery, which is especially beautiful when the leaves are changing. A drive through the park is worth the admission price of $7. Take pack a picnic, enjoy the views at the lookouts, relax on one of the hiking trails, go boating or swimming in season. It’s Indiana’s largest State Park.
Other popular outdoor destinations in the Brown County area include Yellowwood State Forest, simply beautiful in the fall whether you drive it or hike it. A bit further south is the Hoosier National Forest, Bluespring Cave with its boat tours, and historic Bedford.