Aurora, Indiana Attractions
This episode takes you on a tour of the attractions of Aurora Indiana, which is near the site of a minor, but fateful, Revolutionary War conflict. Lochry’s Massacre, sometimes called Lochry’s Defeat, resulted in the death of Colonel Archibald Lochry and about 37 of his men. Listeners will also learn about Hillforest House Museum on 5th Street, a wonderful mansion overlooking downtown Aurora, Indiana. During your visit to Aurora you can relax at Lesko Park overlooking the Ohio River. Lesko Park also serves as the western trailhead for Dearborn Trail. Join me for another exciting road trip in southeastern Indiana as we travel around the state using great Southeast Indiana tourism guides.
From the Book:
Southeast Indiana Day Trips
Greetings, in this episode I will take you on a tour of Aurora, Indiana, which is site of a minor, but fateful, Revolutionary War conflict. Listeners can find complete information about Aurora and other places around southeastern Indiana by purchasing my book, Southeast Indiana Day Trips from my Road Trip Indiana Series. This is the first book in the series and the only one available now. I will have the rest, there will be 9 altogether, as the year progresses. With rising gas prices many Hoosiers, including my wife and myself, are choosing to vacation closer to home. Using this podcast, I will tell you about the many places here in Indiana you can visit and have some unique and fun experiences.
Taking the walking tour Windows of Aurora Murals ensures that visitors to the charming town of Aurora will thouroughly acquaint themselves to the downtown area. Main Street Aurora sponsored the project that placed 64 beautiful murals at several sites downtown. Each of the murals depicts a scene a visitor to Aurora in the early 20th century. The seventeen sites depict scenes honoring Aurora’s train depot, the schools and Aurora’s riverboat heritage.
Hillforest Mansion Museum
Near downtown on Fifth Street the lovely Hillforest Mansion overlooks the town and the Ohio River from a bluff.
Designed by architect Isaiah Rogers and constructed by industrialist and financier Thomas Gaff in 1855, Hillforest Mansion sits astride a hill that affords a majestic view of the Ohio River.
Thomas Gaff (July 8, 1808 – April 25, 1884)
The son of James and Margaret Wilson Gaff, Thomas was native to Edinburgh, Scotland. His father, a paper maker, moved the family to Springfield, New Jersey. Gaff received his education in private schools and learned papermaking from his father. An uncle, Charles Wilson, taught him the distilling business. Thomas and his brother James founded a distillery in Philadelphia. In 1843, the brothers moved their operation to Aurora, Indiana. Their distillery, called the T & J.W. Gaff & Company Distillery, produced bourbon, rye, and Thistle Dew Scotch whiskey. The business thrived and their business empire expanded to include the Crescent Brewing Company, a Nevada silver mine, farming operations and many others. The Gaffs also owned a fleet of steamboats that they used to transport their various products on the rivers.
Isaiah Rogers (August 17, 1800 – April 13, 1869)
The son of Isaac and Hannah Ford Rogers, Isaiah was native to Marshfield, Massachusetts. A student of famed Massachusetts architect Solomon Willard, Isaiah became a leading architect in the United States. He designed structures in Mobile, Alabama, Boston, New York City, Louisville, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio. His designs included Boston’s Tremont House, New York’s Astor House and the Burnett House in Cincinnati.
Hillforest Historic Mansion
Situated on ten acres of land overlooking the Ohio River, Gaff lived in the home until his death in 1884. The Gaff family retained ownership of the home until furniture manufacturer Will Stark purchased the home in 1924. The local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars owned the home, using it as a meeting place, until a group of local citizens purchased the home in 1955. Organizing as the Hillforest Historical Foundation, the group restored the home and opened it for public tours in 1956. The National Historic Landmark Program listed it as a National Historic Landmark in 1992. The restored home is open for tours from April 1 until December 30. The home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992.
Hillforest Victorian House Museum, a stately 1855 Italian Renaissance mansion
Hillforest Historic Mansion
213 Fifth St
After taking the walking tour and touring the mansion you can relax with a beautiful veiw of the river as you watch boats go by at Lesko Park.
Lesko Park occupies a grassy, landscaped strip along the Ohio River waterfront. There are three parking areas strung along Indiana State Road 56 just west of downtown Aurora. River access for boats is nearby using the Aurora Landing just off Judiciary Street. The park derives its name from Aurora Clerk-Treasurer Tony Lesko.
Lesko Ohio River Park features a wide, asphalt walkway which is about a mile long. The walkway provides a great way to get a bit of exercise after a picnic lunch. It is an easy hike along the river. Visitors will find restrooms, playgrounds, picnic shelters and a wonderful vista of the Ohio River. The park provides access to the two-mile long Dearborn Trail that hugs the Ohio River shoreline to Lawrenceburg.
Great vistas of the Ohio River can be found all along the park’s trail. You can watch barges and boats ply the waters as well as sight waterfowl feeding in the waters. The trailhead for the Dearborn Trail is on the east end of the park.
Winner of the Mid America Trails and Greenway Award in 2007, Dearborn Trail spans three river cities waterfronts on the Ohio River. The trail is about 4.5 miles in total length one-way. Most of the trail is paved and is open year round. The trail connects Greendale, Lawrenceburg and Aurora, Indiana. It begins at the intersection of East William and High Street in Greendale. Dearborn Trail ends in Lesko Park in Aurora, Indiana near Indiana State Road 56. For much of its length it overlooks the Ohio River. The trail uses a restored railroad bridge to cross Tanner’s Creek. Hikers and bikers will find benches at various points along the trail. Lesko Park has restrooms, picnic areas and benches. Downtown areas of Greendale, Lawrenceburg and Aurora are a short walk from the trail. An active rail line, the CSX, parallels the trail. The section between Aurora and Lawrenceburg is wooded. Hikers and bikers may see deer, beaver, foxes, waterfowl and shorebirds in this rich wetland area.
Tanners Creek Bridge
The Cincinnati and Southern Ohio River Railway constructed the bridge in 1872. Athens Pennsylvania bridge builder Kellogg & Maurice Bridge Company designed and constructed the bridge. Railroads that have used the bridge include:
Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway (CCC&StL)
New York Central Railroad (NYC)
Penn Central Railroad (PC)
If you drive west on Indiana State Road 56 a short distance and turn right on Laughery Creek Road, you will find Riverview Cemetary, which is the site of a minor Revolutionary War conflict called Lochry’s massacre. An historical marker notes the approximate location.
Erected by the Sons of the American Revolution in 1961 the text reads,
On Aug. 24, 1781, Col. Archibald Lochry and 107 recruits for Gen. Clark were ambushed at Lochry Creek by Joseph Brant’s raiders. One-third were killed, the rest captured. Lochry and the wounded were later murdered.
Brief History by the Author:
Archibald Lochry (April 15, 1733— August 24, 1781)
The son of Jeremiah Loughery and Mary Murphy, Archibald was native to Octorarro Settlement, Ireland. The family migrated to York County, Pennsylvania sometime in the late 1730’s. At maturity, Archibald became a powerful man, acquiring land and holding several political posts. He gained his first military experience during the latter stages of the French and Indian War when he enlisted on July 18, 1763.
In 1781, Lochry received an appointment to serve as colonel in the militia and given authority to recruit 200 men to launch attacks against the native tribes that were attacking the Pennsylvania frontier as part of the hostilities of the Revolutionary War. Since many were reluctant to leave their homes defenseless during a time of conflict, Lochry was only able to recruit 107 men. The company was ready to move by July 1781. Lochry had agreed to join an expedition led by General George Rogers Clark of Virginia on an expedition that was to move down the Ohio River and recruit men in Kentucky. From there they would either move against Fort Detroit or attack Delaware and Shawnee tribes deep in the heart of Indian country in current Indiana and Ohio. These tribes were harassing the Pennsylvania frontier.
Clark departed down the Ohio first from Wheeling. Initially, the two groups were to leave Wheeling together. However, Clark had a serious problem with desertion. Reluctant to leave their homes for extended periods leaving their families undefended, the soldiers deserted in large numbers. This drove Clark to try to move further west faster than anticipated in the hopes of cutting down on desertions. Lochry arrived at Wheeling on August 8, only to find that Clark had already left. Lochry’s men built boats and departed Wheeling after spending a few days building them. While there, Lochry sent a canoe downstream with a message to Clark relating that they were low on supplies for both men, horses, and would follow Clark as soon as they could. This message did not reach General Clark. Forces led by George Girty and Chief Joseph Brandt intercepted the messages and began immediately to assemble a force to attack Lochry.
After departing Wheeling, Lochry kept his boats to the middle of the Ohio River to prevent attack from the shore. Girty and Brandt shadowed the force onshore as it made its way downriver. After several days of travel, Lochry had to go ashore to allow the horses to graze and obtain food for his men. They landed near the mouth of present day Laughery Creek. They killed a buffalo and prepared to cook it while the horses grazed. Meanwhile, danger gathered in the woodland surrounding them. The numbers Brandt and Girty had to attack are not certain, somewhere between 150 and 500 warriors attacked Lochry’s force, catching them by surprise. In the short battle that followed, the natives forced Lochry to surrender. About thirty-seven died in the attack, including Lochry, who was reportedly tomahawked as he sat on a log after the surrender. The remainder of the prisoners were marched up trails by the Miami River. The natives ransomed some, killed some and adopted others. Only around twenty-five survived the attack.
Clark’s proposed attack against Detroit died with Lochry’s Massacre. Lacking the manpower to carry it out, he abandoned the plan. His capture of Vincennes in 1779 would not be repeated at Detroit.
A government clerk on the first documents misspelled the name ‘Laughery’, and the name has remained unchanged. Riverview Cemetery, the approximate location of the battle near Aurora, contains a monument to Lochry and his men, and a list of the soldiers who took part in the battle in addition to his marker.
3635 E Laughery Creek Rd,
Aurora, IN 47001
This will be the last episode dealing with Dearborn County, but there are many other fine places to visit in the county. Find out more about these Indiana day trip destinations and many more by purchasing the book Southeast Indiana Day Trips. You can find it on my web site, http://www.mossyfeetbooks.com on the Road Trip Indiana category. Just scroll down to categories, click the Road Trip Indiana Series. There are links to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play and other online book sellers. You may choose to purchase the book in ebook or softbound versions. An audio book version is available on Google Play. You can take a deeper dive into Dearborn County History by purchasing my book, A History of Dearborn County, Indiana. This book is part of my Indiana County Short History Series, also available on the web site.
You can also order the book direct from me, the author, on the web page. If you wish me to sign the book, just send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting a signed book and instructions on how you want me to address it. Note, if you send me an email, I will add you to my contact list. Readers on the list will receive an email from me announcing when I publish a new book. If you do not want me to add you to the list, tell me and I will not add you. Listeners to this podcast that want email notification of my new releases can just send me an email requesting addition to the list. You can choose to have your name removed at any time. If you browse the web site you will find dozens of sample chapters, one for each of my books. I hope you enjoyed this podcast and thank you for listening.
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