A Day on the Canal in Carroll County
Looking for a destination that offers fascinating sites in a laid-back setting? Start planning your day trip to Carroll County, a scenic region best known for its well-preserved historic buildings and location along the Wabash and Erie Canal.
The Lay of the Land
Carroll County sits squarely in central Indiana’s picturesque farm country, about 20 miles northeast of Lafayette. Delphi, population approximately 3,300, is the county seat and largest city, says Julia Leahy, executive director of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. Other major municipalities include Flora, Burlington, Camden and Yeomen. Although its attractions draw tourists of all ages, Carroll County retains a “very small-town, homey feel, with lots of places to visit and relax,” Leahy says.
According to Leahy, the county takes its name from Charles Carroll, who was the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. Since his surname was a common one at the time, Carroll ensured remembrance and increased his risk of reprisal by adding “of Carrollton” next to his name to identify himself. This unusual signature can still be seen on the famous document today.
Touring Downtown Delphi
In addition to its name, Carroll County offers interesting history.
“A lot of the buildings are very old,” Leahy says.
In fact, downtown Delphi’s Courthouse Square Historic District, which includes 43 buildings, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Leahy points to Carroll County Courthouse, the Union Center and recently restored Delphi Opera House as particular highlights. Those interested in taking a self-guided architectural tour of the area can pick up an itinerary at the chamber of commerce.
Delphi’s downtown, however, is definitely not stuck in the past. Many of the town’s historic facades have been completely refurbished, and many of them now house modern shopping and dining destinations, Leahy says. Visitors can shop for unique home décor and gifts at MarthaRose Gifts & Interiors, then chow down on burgers and hand-cut fries made to order at The Sandwich Shop. Leahy also recommends a meal at the Stonehouse Restaurant and Bakery, which serves up baked steak, chicken and noodles, and pies. “The bakery is fantastic,” she says.
Within walking distance of downtown Delphi lies the Wabash and Erie Canal Park, which Leahy names as a Carroll County “must-do.” Tourists can learn about the region’s history through hands-on exhibits at the Interpretive Center & Museum.
The on-site Pioneer Village contains various historic and recreated structures including a one-room schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and more. From Mother’s Day weekend through Labor Day, visitors can tour the canal on The Delphi, a replica canal boat similar to those used to move goods through the area in the 19th century. The park also offers hiking and biking trails as well as historic bridges.
Leahy also recommends stopping at Adams Mill on Wildcat Creek and the Adams Mill Covered Bridge, both located near Cutler. The gristmill, completed in 1846, currently houses intact milling machinery plus an Americana museum showcasing a variety of interesting artifacts. In recent years, this beautiful site has gained popularity in the art scene, Leahy says.
Considering a spring visit to the region? Time your trip for April 23 to enjoy the Carroll County Garden Fair in Flora. This popular event features plants, flowers and garden supplies available for sale, Leahy says. The county also holds the annual Canal Days festival over Fourth of July weekend, bringing hundreds of visitors to the area. Festival offerings include food, music, period crafts and a parade through downtown Delphi.
Carroll County truly has something for everyone, from history buffs to music lovers to families. When you’re ready to visit, find complete details on area events and attractions at carrollcountyindiana.com.