Knowledge for All
Our two towns' histories date back to the 1840's... and what histories they are! It all started with pungent, mineral-laden water. Buffalo, plush resorts, illegal gambling, circus headquarters, world-class artists, and a pretty darn good basketball player are part of our colorful past.
We were Vegas before there was a Vegas… despite the fact that gambling in Indiana was illegal.
The Springs Valley boasted several documented casinos from the 1860's until 1949 when the state stopped looking the other way.
You’ll see relics from those old casinos and learn about some of the characters who ran them.
Local artists Henry and Ferdinand Cross made and sold their work out of a place known as Cross Cave. Henry was a painter and Ferdinand was a stone carver.
The Cross Brothers moved to southern Indiana in the mid-1800's and would gain national acclaim. We have a display of Henry’s magnificent paintings and Ferdinand's spectacular Cross columns and fireplace; vivid examples of what Ferdinand could do with a chunk of raw limestone, working in a cave.
WORLDS LARGEST CIRCUS DIORAMA
Just catch your breath and say, “Oh my…!” as you enter this exhibit.
It goes on and on and on, seemingly forever.
This scale model exhibit, painstakingly crafted by Peter Gorman over several years, depicts the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus in incredible detail from the moment the train rolls into town, parades through the village, and right on into the show under the big top.
There are well over 150,000 pieces. It took our museum team three months just to set it up. You are welcome to stay and admire it as long as you want. There’s a lot to see.
The mythical god of the underworld became the symbol of the French Lick Springs Hotel’s mineral water. Owner Tom Taggart bottled the water and sold it nationwide for many years. The image of Pluto was used on everything from menus, postcards, and soaps for guest rooms to cufflinks, clocks, and toy trains. The museum currently has the original, full-sized Pluto figures. (Get that selfie camera ready and pose with Pluto.)
Larry Bird Exhibit
One of the greatest to play the game and he's a home town boy. Larry Bird, "The Hick From French Lick", starred at Indiana State University before joining the NBA's Boston Celtics in 1979. Over the course of his 13-year Hall of Fame career, the sharpshooting forward led the Celtics to three NBA titles and claimed three MVP awards. Visit us and discover how he got started.
French Lick Hotel
West Baden Springs Hotel
French Lick Hotel
West Baden Hotel
OUR GRAND HOTELS
The French Lick and West Baden Springs Hotels date back to the 1840’s. William Bowles and John Lane had big dreams and grand plans, all revolving around the mineral-rich springs. The West Baden dome, built in 1902, was once called the 8th Wonder of the world. Learn their stories, complete with rare artifacts, and how they evolved with just one mile between them.