The above referenced map is from Gailbraith's 1897
Railway Mail Service Map.
County lies on the North bank of the Ohio River. A significant
gateway to the state of Indiana, Clark County’s settlement began
in 1783. The
state of Virginia rewarded General George Rogers Clark and his
regiment for their victorious capture of Forts Kaskaskia,
Cahokia, and Vincennes from the British by granting them 150,000
acres of land. A small portion of this land, 1000 acres, became
known as Clarksville. Clarksville, the first authorized American
settlement in Northwest Territory, was founded the following year in
in 1801, Clark County originally included all or part of Floyd,
Clark, Harrison, Washington, Scott, Jennings, Jackson, Ripley,
Decatur, Bartholemew, Franklin, Shelby, Rush, Fayette, Union,
Randolph, Henry, Wayne, Jay, and Switzerland Counties. The platting
of Jeffersonville occurred a year later.
From its beginning Clark County’s history, culture and growth has
been linked to the development of the river. The use of the
steamboat in the early 1800’s to transport goods and services
provided Clark County opportunities for commercial and industrial
growth. In 1832, James Howard founded the Howard shipyards making
Clark County a leader in ship building and bringing with it economic
railroad brought further economic growth. Two railroad lines, the
Monon, which spanned from New Albany to Chicago and the
Jeffersonville, Madison, and Indianapolis railroad, provided Clark
County and southern Indiana with access to the northern trading
centers of Indianapolis and Chicago.
locating to Clark County during the 1800’s included the Louisville
Cement Company in Speed, Indiana and the Ford Plate Glass Company
established in Jeffersonville in 1876.
September 23, 1878 the county seat returned to Jeffersonville from
Charlestown, after an absence of 66 years.
the 1920’s, Clark County attracted the Colgate-Palmolive Company
to the Clarksville Riverfront. Colgate purchased the former Indiana
Reformatory building in 1923. The Company rehabilitated and adapted
the building for its dedication in 1924.
the years of the Second World War, Clark County prospered. The
United States began construction on the Indiana Arsenal near
Charlestown, Indiana in 1940. Producing smokeless powder for the
conflict overseas, the arsenal, at times, employed as many as
20,000. During the war, Howard shipyards was Commissioned by the
Navy to produce landing craft. Later Howard shipyards reorganized as
Jeffersonville Boat and Machine Company (Jeffboat) — a current
major employer (1991).
World War II ended, Clark County as well as the United States
experienced significant residential and commercial growth. The
Interstate Highway System act of 1956 aided this growth. Because of
the improved access and efficiency brought by the interstate system,
especially Interstate 65, new development in the form of
subdivisions and shopping centers located near these roads.
of its rich past, Clark County progresses toward the future boasting
a diversified economic base and excellent development opportunities.
County history has been closely associated with the development of
the Ohio River. From its beginnings, Clark County relied on the
river for economic opportunities. Clark County has diversified its
economic base, lessened its dependency on the river, and continues
to develop in new directions. However, the county still looks to the
river as one link to its significant pioneer heritage.