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  • Ren Gudino

Lebanon, Indiana -- Small Town, Big Heart

I was walking through our warehouse, taking video clips and photographs of our recently completed giant signs, when Shannon, our shipping manager, asked me if I saw the signs from Indiana. “I’m sorry,” I laughed, “I have no idea what cities or signs are from Indiana. Are they the ones on the truck?” “Oh no, they just have a really cool shape!” She said and led me to the stand where large hexagonal signs leaned on their sides, protected by thick cardboard between them. “Isn’t this neat?” Shannon said, holding up the sign with a fellow worker. “It is! Where’s Lebanon? Oh wait—INDIANA,” we laughed at how quickly I managed to forget.

We don’t know where the signs will ultimately end up, but they definitely intrigued me. What on earth is this town? Was it really established in 1832? What’s this Big 4 Trail? So here we go! Join me down this mini-rabbit hole over Lebanon, Indiana.

Lebanon was officially established on April 30, 1830, though its formal founding wouldn’t be until 1831. Two young men from the Indiana Militia, General James Perry Drake and Colonel George L. Kinnard had earned prominence for successfully building communities and for having a shrewd eye for developing land. In 1839, Lebanon had its first courthouse: a two-story brick building with a weak foundation that started crumbling in 1856. The new brick building cost $40k and touts the following features that are still notable to this day: its large columns are believed to be the largest monolithic limestone columns in the world, the courthouse dome is the state’s second largest stained glass dome, and you can find eight rare Hahl pneumatically calibrated clocks keeping time inside.

Lebanon is also home to a few famous people and they proudly boast themselves as the home of Allen Saunders, Blake Vogt, and Drew Powell. Allen Saunders was a comic strip writer in 1936, known for his involvement in The Great Gusto. He is also attributed with authoring the phrase, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” He passed away five years after receiving an Inkpot Award in 1981. Blake Vogt is a magician that has wowed children at birthday parties to the nation on America’s Got Talent. He has created magic for David Copperfield, David Blaine, movies, and television shows! (Click here for his official site.) Another Lebanon local that earned success is Drew Powell, known for his roles as Hoss Cartwright in Ponderosa, Cadet Drew in Malcolm in the Middle, and, as a series regular, Butch Gilzean in Gotham. (Click here for his official site.)

Finally, what is the Big 4 Trail? In the late 1800’s, this swampy and boggy area was drained for agricultural use, part of it located in Boone County, named after Daniel Boone. The old Cleveland, Cincinnati, and St. Louis Rail Line used to me, giving it the name of the “Big 4.” Native Americans and French Traders settled in the Thorntorn area, which continues to win people over with its quaint environment. The Big 4 Trail sounds like the perfect stop this summer, spreading over Boone County, Clinton County, and eventually into Tippecanoe County, surrounded by Midwestern countryside, small town charm, with local options for shopping and eating out! The trail starts in Colfax, and moves through Thorntown, Lebanon, Whitestown, and Zionville.

Looking at the pictures and learning about this historical small town has won me over. I definitely want to check it out for myself and am glad it was their unique signage that introduced me to them!

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