Seymour Tourism Information

You may not have been born in John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” but you will always be welcomed to visit — or live amongst our notable doctors, inventors, rock stars, and even a former Miss America, all who proudly claim Seymour, Indiana as their home.

Brief History of Seymour

The first settler on the land that is now Seymour was James Shields who brought his family here in 1816 and built on the property which is now the old city cemetery. In 1820, he received a land grant for the ground he had homesteaded in the area called Mule Crossing.

The son of James Shields, Captain Meedy W. Shields, who later became a State Senator, inherited his father’s land holdings and developed it into a prosperous farm. During the latter 1840’s, a north-south railroad connecting the Ohio River at Jeffersonville with Indianapolis was built crossing the Shields’ farm. In 1852, an east-west railroad was being surveyed through Jackson County and Shields persuaded the railroad company to run through his property. In exchange for this favor, he agreed to name the town after the railroad’s civil engineer, J. Seymour. Seymour, Indiana quickly became a major center of commercial activity. The city was incorporated in 1864 with a population of 1553.

Freeman Army Airfield Museum

Freeman Field was an advanced training base for cadets who had already completed primary flight training. Here they learned to fly multi-engine aircraft and flight solely by reference to instruments. The base was built in just nine months, May 1942 through January 1943. The land was acquired from 27 area farms, providing space for 413 buildings and four runways.

After 9 weeks training at Freeman the cadets went to another base and learned to fly bombers and cargo planes, which they then flew in the war. There were about 5000 military personnel stationed here, and approximately 4200 multiengine pilots were trained.

The principal training aircraft was the twin-engine AT-10 “Wichita” built by Beech Aircraft. There were approximately 250 of the wood and canvas planes at Freeman Field, but only one example survives today, at the National Museum of the Air Force.

The Freeman Army Airfield era ended in 1947 when the base was closed and deeded to the City of Seymour for one dollar. It is now an industrial park and civilian airport.

Click here for more information on the Freeman Army Air Field Museum

The Reno Gang

Notorious and feared in the Midwest at the end of the Civil War, the Reno Gang made its headquarters in Seymour and Rockford in Jackson County, Indiana.

“The Reno Gang planned to rob their first train near Seymour; the town was an important rail hub at that time. On the evening of October 6, 1866, John Reno, Sim Reno, and Frank Sparkes boarded an Ohio and Mississippi Railway train as it started to leave the Seymour depot. They broke into the express car, restrained the guard, and broke open a safe containing approximately $16,000. From the moving train, the three men pushed a larger safe over the side, where the rest of the gang was waiting. Unable to open the second safe, the gang fled as a large posse approached.”

The secret of the gang’s missing loot lies buried with Reno brothers in unmarked graves in the old Seymour Cemetery.

Click here for more information on The Reno Gang

Jackson-Washington State Forest

Jackson-Washington State Forest encompasses nearly 18,000 acres in Jackson and Washington counties in the heart of southern Indiana. The main forest and office area are located 2.5 southeast of Brownstown on State Road 250. This part of the state contains unique topography known as the “knobs”. This region provides scenic views second to none and offers some breathtaking hiking opportunities.

Click here to learn more about the Jackson - Washington State Forest

 Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge

Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 as a refuge to provide resting and feeding areas for waterfowl during their annual migrations. The refuge includes 7,724 acres near Seymour, and a 78-acre parcel, known as the Restle Unit, near Bloomington. The refuge mission is to restore, preserve, and manage a mix of forest, wetland, and grassland habitat for fish, wildlife, and people. More than 280 species of birds have been seen at Muscatatuck, and the refuge is recognized as a “Continentally Important” bird area.

Click here for more information on the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge

Starve-Hollow State Recreation Area

Starve-Hollow State Recreation Area encompasses approximately 280 acres offering some of the best camping in southern Indiana. Carved out of 18,000-acre Jackson-Washington State Forest, it provides fishing and boat rental on 145-acre Starve Hollow Lake, swimming on the large sandy beach or the chance to learn about conservation at the Education Center. For the more avid outdoor enthusiast, hiking and mountain biking on nearby trails is available. Hunting can be done during various seasons by accessing nearby Jackson – Washington State Forest. Playgrounds and shelters that can be reserved are located on the property as well. 

Click here for more information on Starve-Hollow

 Covered Bridges

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