By Kevin Williams
During my 25 plus years exploring Amish settlements I have been to 48 states and Canada and criss-crossed the country chronicling Plain communities. I remember most places I’ve been, the Plain and the non-Plain.
Evansville, Indiana is a city of about 120,000 tucked away in a sparsely populated corner of the state. Weird because it’s not a tiny city, yet you rarely ever hear Evansville come up in the news as often as similar sized cities like Wichita, Kansas, or Dayton, Ohio; or Peoria, Illinois or Bangor, Maine. I guess Evansville just stays out of trouble or splashy headlines. It’s such a quiet, non-descript city, I wonder if I’ll hear from anyone who reads this…does anyone have any Evansville thoughts to share with me?
Not sure what made me think of Evansville this morning, but I’ll share some random thoughts about this unassuming city:
- Evansville is where the hit film League of our Own was filmed (Madonna infamously, and to the chagrin of locals, call the city “an armpit.” I didn’t think it was that bad).
- I first visited Evansville over 20 years ago. I was being interviewed for a very early morning news program in the city to plug The Amish Cook. The interview must have been very early, because I have zero memory of it. But I know I did it. I stayed at a Drury Inn, a midwestern, relatively upscale hotel chain. Man, how my life has changed. Now if I am traveling alone I stay at the cheapest dive I can find. I think I’ve been back to Evansville 3 or 4 times since for various reasons. Can’t think of a reason I’d ever go back. But it does have a nice zoo supposedly.
- Evansville, at the time of my first visit, had two daily papers – The Courier in the morning and The Press in the evening. The Press ceased to exist around 2000. The Courier, bizarrely, picked up The Amish Cook column around that same time and ran it for about six months before inexplicably dropping it. Not many papers ever cancel The Amish Cook, definitely not after six months. There was a third paper across the river called The Gleaner, not sure if it still exists, but it served the Henderson, Kentucky area.
- For a long time – to my knowledge – Evansville was the largest city in the USA without interstate access. But with the recent upgrades to Interstate 69 that has now changed. I guess I could Google it, but I am thinking the city that now enjoys that distinction would be Traverse City, Michigan; Dothan, Alabama or Sacramento. Maybe someone can Google that for me?
- Evansville is the largest city between St. Louis and Louisville. There are Amish settlements about an hour outside of Evansville to the northwest and to the south near Madisonville, Kentucky.
- When I was in high school I almost applied for admission to the University of Evansville. Had I applied and been accepted, I am sure I’d have a lot more to say about E-ville.
- There is an east-west artery in Evansville, Indiana that if you inadvertently get on that highway, you can’t get off it. I remember late one night blundering onto the Lloyd Expressway and not being able to get off it for miles, who’s idea was it sneak a highway in among the city streets?
- There is a navy ship docked in Evansville. Yep. Called the USS-LST-325. That’s been on my Dad’s wish list of places to go (he’s a navy vet), so maybe I’ll get some fresh material from Evansville from them