Main Street USA in Aurora, Indiana (Roadtrip Day 02)

After the seven hour Interstate drive the previous day, I woke up Saturday dreading the thought of hitting the bland four-lane pavement for another long haul. I don’t think anything in the world is as mind-numbingly boring as Interstate travel, and even at 80+ mph (thanks, West Virginia!), to me, it feels like you’re moving at a snail’s pace.

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Well, we had no choice. Our plan was to meet up with Route 50 at the Indiana border, so we sucked it up and bolted across Ohio in about 4 hours or so.

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About the only thing of note: we stopped at Panera for lunch, where I encountered these two ladies engaged in an activity one of you readers is going to have to explain to me. They had a small electronic scale, and some sort of meter with a probe attachment, and were carefully going over a bunch of somethings in a little plastic bag. Any clues?

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Finally, we arrived at the exit for US-50. Our roadtrip had officially begun!

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At first, I was seriously disheartened. The part of Lawrenceburg that US-50 travels through is essentially lined by Walgreens and McDonalds and Blockbusters, and looks like the commercial wasteland found in any US city. Had we really gunned across 4 hours of Ohio interstate for this?

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Then we crossed the river into Aurora, Indiana, and any depression in my veins was washed away by the eternal power of a Main Street that had seemingly been frozen in time.

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Places like Aurora are true treasures – incredibly well-preserved small towns that are still largely serving the local interest. I’m from the north-east, where such places are generally preserved as tourist destinations, guaranteed to be around so long as visitors continue streaming in to buy overpriced rock candy at the North Conway, NH General Store, or unwanted knicknacks at the Rockport, Mass. curio shop.

As for Aurora? When we arrived at around 4pm, Aurora was nearly completely deserted. All the stores were closed, and other than a few locals sitting on rocking chairs down the street, there wasn’t a soul around. A corner bank:

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I love this building a few blocks down. What is – or was – Schucks? No clue – a small plaque simply identifies it as “Schuck’s Victorian – 1866. Built by Spaeth.”  An art gallery currently occupies the ground floor.

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This is one of the most beautiful all-American car garages I’ve ever seen, just around the corner on Main Street. As of Dodge City, Kansas, I haven’t seen anything that tops it:

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This building is now a bar…

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…but still has the old “Nelson TV” sign attached.

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On the beautiful brick building beside Schuck’s, a ghost ad still remains for “Walton’s Photograph Gallery.” I’d love to know what year that dates to:

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Meanwhile, the ad-covered Aylor & Meyer store still provides feed and services to local farmers:

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But the most glaring sign we were a long way from New York? A sign advertising “pop” instead of “soda” (and only 50 cents??).

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Aurora is delightfully small, with just five numbered streets, and is located on the Ohio River. However, best of all, Aurora is built on a hill – 3rd Street is higher than 2nd, 4th higher than 3rd, and so on.

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Look down any of Aurora’s back alleys, and you’ll see the town rising up in the distance.

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Aurora has a lot of beautiful homes, like this wonderfully preserved Victorian mansion:

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It also has its share of abandoned houses like this one, not more than 2 blocks from the one above yet completely overtaken by trees:

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As small a town as Aurora might be, there’s a good chance it will one day play a big role in your life – or rather, death: the Aurora Casket Company, located up the hill on 4th Street, is one of the largest manufacturers of caskets and urns in the US, supplying 38% of those used annually. Note the faded lettering on the left building, revealing it to have once been named “The Aurora Coffin Company.”

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A third Aurora Casket building on 4th Street:

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Finally, the crown jewel of Aurora: the Hillforest mansion, perched at the top of a hill off of 5th Street:

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Hillforest was built for Thomas Gaff, a local entrepreneur whose many businesses included a tremendous amount of shipping along the Ohio River by steamship. The house was thus designed to resemble a steamship’s deck. The view from the porch allowed him to keep an eye on incoming and outgoing ships on the Ohio:

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How long will Aurora remain frozen in time? As we were leaving, we passed this ominous sign announcing future condo development.

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See it while you still can.

-SCOUT

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104 comments

  1. I’m betting you’re already far past this, but here’s a late suggestion: Take IN7 north from Vernon to Columbus, IN. Home of Cummings Engine and the Irwin/Miller family that bankrolled it, and a living museum of modern architecture, all housed in a well-preserved Indiana county seat and market-town.

  2. Interested to see this – I think this is the town where my great-great grandfather got some of his fingers cut off my farm machinery.

  3. I bet the ladies were having a Gold Party. It’s like Avon or Tupperware, except you bring your gold for cash. The scale is for weight and the probe is for karats.

  4. Schuck’s was a grocery store. I grew up in a small town in central Illinois, we had one.

    I miss midwest small town life!

    • Shuck’s was not a grocery store. It was not a chain. The owner’s name was Schuck and he was a plumber. At Christmas his windows were willed with a great Christmas display, moving features and all.

      • Shucks was a plumbing supply store. The windows were the best of all at Christmas.. The owner’s wife drove a Caddy that he buried her in….

    • Janet,

      I suspect you’re thinking of Schnuck’s (note the N), which is a midwestern grocery-store chain based in St. Louis.

  5. Now I understand why you don’t want to be on the Interstate! But this is how I grew up. In a small midwest, 19th century suburb. Every trip to my grandparents in Central Iowa we took the back roads from Illinois — I’ve been seeing these places my whole life. But the interstate, now that was a rarity!

    And I’m happy that towns like these are being preserved with new smart growth and aren’t being allowed to be destroyed by out of town Wal-Marts and strip shopping centers.

    Excited to see your trip progress!

  6. Oh! The Hillforest mansion literally made me gasp!

    Now, don’t be so hard on the Northeast, Scout. There are plenty of small towns in NY with main streets that aren’t full of tourist traps. We pass through a bunch of them when we take my nephews to the Renaissance Faire in Sterling Forest, and I used to see even more back when a friend and I used to drive to Belleayre Mountain for skiing.

    And even Hudson isn’t kitschy despite it being artsy. Troy isn’t even artsy, and it is STUNNING:

    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=troy&w=19479358%40N00

    A great start to your trip, though.

  7. I live in suburban California, and this set has me longing for a road trip. California has so little actual history, especially where I live. Much of the commerical real estate in my town could be found in practically any newer community. So sad.

    That victorian just blows my mind.

    Nice work Scout!

  8. The ladies might have been on a special diet that required them to weigh food. *grin* GREAT shot of the Victorian house LOVE those turrets!

  9. Even though I got back from my own road trip (Chicago to Yellowstone with many stops in between) I am ridiculously excited to follow yours. There is nothing I like better than getting off the interstate and seeing the small towns that highways pass over.

    Aurora is my kind of town.

  10. Probably too late to let you know to stop in Richmond and Cambridge City, IN. Another great town is Crawfordsville, IN. And sometime, you need to do a road trip along US40, the Old National Road. Fascinating through OH, IN, and IL.

  11. Hi Scout, long-time reader, first time commenter…

    Interstates may be mind-numbingly boring back east, but there are high points out in the west. If you’re traveling US-50, it meets I-70 in eastern Utah and goes through the San Rafael Reef. It’s a beautiful stretch of desert road that highlights the natural beauty of the high desert (same region as Arches and Canyonlands National Parks). There’s also I-5 in northern California through the Siskiyou mountains that goes right past Mt. Shasta, and I-80 through eastern Nevada is beautiful during the late spring and fall. Just saying, there are things to see on interstates; they don’t all look like Ohio!

    Also I’m really excited to follow your trip. I live right at the west end of US-50 in Sacramento, and there’s a sign that says “Ocean City, MD-3073″ right where US-50 begins. Someday I’m going to drive to Ocean City, MD just to see if there’s a sign that says “Sacramento, CA-3073″ at the other end. :)

    • There is. :) As someone who lives in MD and goes to OC every summer, it’s good to know Sacramento has a sign too.

  12. Story: I am living in London this year, and before and after I am an LA resident.

    But believe it or not I grew up in Aurora.

    For the record, Schuck’s was / is an HVAC contractor, appliance store, and maybe even a department store at one point. Really, it’s sort of an Aurora establishment that just sorta went with the times.

    This is the kind of town where the high school basketball arena seats more people than live in the town, and the big event is a Farmer’s Fair (Indiana’s longest continually running city festival).

    Supposedly, Aurora has the highest concentration of cast-iron interior work (ceiling panels, etc) in the country. All the buildings you see were built when this was the prevalent technology.

    Unless it’s been tapped dry in the last ten years, Southern Indiana is also an absolute goldmine for antiques.

    The hills around town are filled with some of the biggest oak trees outside California.

    This makes me feel like putting on Springsteen’s “My Hometown,” getting a pint of Beam and giving proper respect to my hometown, and the fact that in some ways you can never truly go HOME.

    But thank you, Scout, for highlighting this easily missed gem!

    p.s. My friend Kara lives back in Aurora now, and has a blog, so if you want more Southeastern Indiana stories, head over to http://midwesternvalue.wordpress.com/

  13. The Schuck’s building has many differnt stories that go along with it. It was for many years a plumbing/hvac store. Every christmas the windows came alive with all kinds of animated decorations. And then in i think 1994 his wife Aurora died and he had her buried in a vault along with their 1976 Cadillac Eldorado.

    • Mike is right about Schuck’s. Mr. Schuck was a very interesting and somewhat excentric man. Our kids loved those windows at Christmas. The shot of the river from Hillview overlooks St. Mary’s church That we attended and our boys went to school. Great to be there at Fall Festival time, too. We miss living there. Great people.

      • My father used to do Plumbing and HVAC work. So when I was younger and helped him out on jobs, we went to the Schucks in Aurora often to pick up supplies. If my memory serves me right, his name was Ray Schuck. He didn’t have the best prices but he was local and had TONS of stuff on hand in the up stairs area. Ray, was a very animated tall skinny guy with dark hair. He was fun to talk with adn was genuinely a nice guy to my dad and I whenever we stopped by to shop or chat. I read somewhere earlier in these threads that he buried his wife with her Cadillac… it is a true story.
        This page brought out some great memories. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Have a great trip, Scout, and be safe! This is awesome reading. Hey, Gabriel. That sign you were wondering about in O.C. Maryland is there!… Sacramento, CA-3073!

  15. I have a service station to rival the one you pictured- Joe’s Service Station in Westerville, Ohio, northeast of Columbus. I wish I had a picture!

  16. I love this post!
    I grew up here in Aurora, moved away for a time, but came back because I love it here so much!
    Shucks, was not a grocery store, but a plumbing supply warehouse owned by a man named Raymond Shuck.
    The casket company pictured there is no longer in use except as a warehouse, the current casket company is a longer way out US 50. As for that garage, I LOVE IT TOO! One day I hope to buy it and turn it into a cafe, for now its just storage for some lady who sells AVON.
    Loved this post!!
    Kara

    • That lady selling AVON is my grandma and she fights tooth and nail with The City od Aurora who wants her shop for the land. They feel as though the shop is an eye sore. We feel as though it is special and an important landmark for the small town of Aurora. They took her driveways away and are slowly chipping away at this time capsule. The big guy always taken away from the little guy.

    • The Aurora Casket is actually on Conwell St. not on Fourth St. Some of the Casket Company has been converted to apartments. Schuck’s was actually a plumbing store. Had the most beautiful Christmas Decorations.

  17. Also!
    Raymond Shucks mother is buried in a local cemetery in the back of her very own pink Cadillac!

  18. Actually, It is Ray’s wife that was buried with her Cadillac. She was from Cuba and, oddly enough, her name was Aurora:) And I believe the car was red.

  19. I grew up in Aurora as well. When my father was young, he worked at that service station. This story really brought back memories. Thanks!!

  20. Thank you so much for the memories of the town where I grew up. Schuck’s was not a grocery store, but a heating and cooling company. When I was growing up they had the most wonderful animated Christmas displays

  21. If you’ll be driving through southern Indiana tomorrow, you have some pretty roads ahead of you. As a child, I saw many of them from the back of a pickup truck, up and down the hills.

  22. I LOVE Aurora! I live and have always lived here. As mentioned by others the Schuck building was a hvac shop. I would like to point out that the Nelson’s Tv is still Nelson’s Tv and still in business. It is owned by a lovely church going couple and is not a bar! haha Every year Schuck’s would cover their windows and fill them with delightful animated Christmas Displays that were revealed on the day after Thanksgiving. They continue this tradition today. Oh,the memories of that day, country folk would come from miles around to see them. The service station mentioned is called Renners Service Station and has not been in operation since the owner’s mechanic husband past away many years ago. Many have approached her as to purchasing it but she keeps it as a memory of her late husband and yes, she sells Avon. Ray Schuck’s wife named Aurora was buried in her pink caddy it captured national attention when it happened, she is buried along with Ray down at Riverview Cemetery. My parents own a christian gift-book shoppe on 2nd street. Stop in sometime if you are out our way and check out the restored cast metal ceilings, i think they are about 19 ft high, quite impressive. In 2009 there was a painting crew that worked all summer painting some buildings on 2nd & 3rd streets, must have been about 12 in all. you should see us now!

    • The service station which was Renner’s Service station was the site of the First Baptist Church of Aurora until it burned during the 1937 flood. I have pics of this church and I have been a member of this church for over 50 years. The church is now located on top of Trester Hill,West on US 50, just outside of Aurora.The church that burned in 1937 was one of the prettiest churches around these parts.

  23. Beverly Howard Reidy

    I, too, grew up in Aurora (1968-1976) and this brought back such good memories. I used to lead tour groups at Hillforest on Sunday afternoons and lived across from that beautiful victorian home.

  24. I too grew up in Aurora and Rising Sun IN. My friend Charlene and I would ride our bikes to town on a regular basis. During the summer we would make sure we had a quarter so we could ride the ferry to KY. To start our bike hike for the day. Some days we would start our hike out off of Conwell St. We would go to the woods behind the Alliance church and walk the ridge to Hillforest. We would drop down in the back yard of that beautiful house and pretend we lived there. We would spend hours there playing with what ever was available that time of yr. One time we had 4 Sweet Tart pkgs. and we split them open length wise and used little twigs and made sailboats out of them and floated them on the little run off creek beside the Alliance church. Those were some of the best memories. Oh well could go on and on. After 27 years got the opportunity to move back home.

  25. I too grew up in Aurora, and my grandparents were the 1st custodians at Hillforest, and i gave tours there in high school. As for the dissapointment of US50 thru Lawrenceburg, that is a relatively new thing. For the 1st 20 years of my life not a thing changed from the border of Oh, to west of Dillsboro on US50. Then the gambling boats showed up and they brought along the typical urban sprawl that you see in any suburban interstate city.

  26. I agree with Azadeh’s comment that the ladies at Panera were probably doing something gold-party related. (I’d never heard of a gold party ’til last year, when my mom, who lives in the suburbs in Georgia, said she was going to one.)

  27. My dad was the pastor of the Alliance Church on Conwell from 1973-1984. I loved my time in Aurora.Beautiful scenery and bteautiful people. Hillforest is amazing. The Farmers Fair is also fun. The person who talked about the basketball games was right. 14 miles to the north is Milan, the school that the movie “Hoosiers” was based on. Thanks for the memories.

  28. Sabrina is correct. Aurora is a wonderful place for a youngster to grow up. Always fun to jump on a bicycle and go exploring. No need to fear to ride around because everybody knows everybody. I was fortunate to have lived in Aurora during the 1950’s. However, that “down-home” atmosphere still survives. Charley Farraer used to own that old ferry and he’d welcome kids aboard. 2nd street was the main business street when I lived there. I lived in and around Aurora from 1944 through 1970. My sister and some other family still live there. I have many old friends and school mates in Aurora area.

  29. Hey folks, Early on, when I was in high school at Aurora [1952-1956], that Schucks building was Altoff Furniture store. They posted some charcoal drawings of mine in their middle window. Their daughter, Diane Altoff, was in my class.
    At that time, Draper Plumbing was 1/2 block further South on 2nd street and on the opposite side from Altoff. Schucks worked for Drapers and bought them out. They didn’t move up to the Altoff building until around the mid or late 1960’s. whew….shows you how old I am.

  30. Loved the Aurora post! I’ve been there- nice to see familiar sights. Hillforest Mansion is my favorite thing there- love it!

  31. I, too, remember living in Aurora in the late fifties and early sixties. My mom owned the Wagon Wheel Restaurant and I waited tables when I was in High School. My Aunt Margaret worked at Aylor and Myers for many years as the bookkeeper.I had an uncle who sold Coffins for the Casket Co. My cousin is still the judge in Aurora now (Avis Tiny Rivera formerly Donk). Farmer’s fair was a tradition as was Neff’s Shoe store and Ulrichs Soda Fountain. The first time I went to Farmer’s fair I had to cross a swinging bridge and was petrified it would break I was going to fall in the River. I moved to California in 1961 and was very sad to leave. Small town living was much different than California living. I have visited Aurora a couple of times but as they say……..You really can’t go back home! But, memories are forever…….

  32. I too remember growing up in Aurora. I especially remember the Easter sunrise services on the front lawn of Hillforest, both the Presbyterian and Methodist churches got together and did this special event several years. I also gave tours with my girl scout troop and remember standing in the cave on the hill that led to the river, now filled in. Aurora was an amazing place to grow up in, I hope everyone can visit there.

  33. Bolting across Ohio is a common error. You don’t expect much, but EVERY town is a historic small town. We haven’t done a whole lot with the place since 1803. We have a thing for murals and abandoning small towns, but leaving everything as it stands… and unlocked. Feel free to come visit us again some day.

  34. Stirrrr the soup

    Ah Aurora! Wherein if we do anything, we do it wrong! Cheers to the lack of vision which allowed a perfectly good town to rot into nothing.

    Too bad – this place could be quite exceptional…..

  35. Loved the article about Aurora, IN. Lived all my life in Lawrenceburg till I got married. Used to be ALL of Lawrenceburg and the whole area was just like that little Main St. in Aurora – UNTIL, unfortunately, the gambling boats came in. What a pity!

  36. Ah! My mother is sitting on the porch of the “Wonderfully restored Vicorian Mansion”. How awesome(:

  37. I love living in this area!! I am actually in Dillsboro, which is an even smaller town a few miles away, but drive through Aurora nearly every day and it is definitely beautiful. As was mentioned in one of the other comments the Farmer’s Fair every fall is one of the biggest events of the year, I remember that school even let out for it when I was attending there. Friends of mine actually live in that beautiful house (not Hillforest, but the other one) and if you think it’s beautiful on the outside, you should see the interior. It’s definitely a great place to live… safe, too. I remember playing outside until 2 in the morning some nights, not worried at all about anyone bothering us.

  38. I’m a big fan of the service station at 132 W. Broad St. in Hopewell, NJ. A zoom-in on Google Maps will give you a nice pic. I believe they filmed parts of the Meg Ryan/Tim Robbins/Walter Matthau movie “I.Q.” there. There’s a great old neon Mobil pegasus sign too (to the left as you look at the building- in the trees & hard to see in the photo), though I think I heard that they brought it in for the movie. May not be original, but it still looks great!
    Haven’t been there in a while, but the Google Maps image seems to have a “for sale” sign out front. I hope it survives the sale!

    Love your blog- it really helps to pass the time at work!

  39. Don Rullman--Stamford, CT

    I enjoyed this tremendously. I was born on the west side of Aurora, 26 Aug, 1937, in a rented bungalow on Railroad Ave, just yards from busy B & O railroad tracks. My Mother claimed that when I cried as a baby, she prayed for a long freight to go by, since, unable to compete, I would quiet down quickly (train sounds still make me sleepy). Went off to college in 1955, then US Navy, then a career in environmental engineering (retired April, this year). You have definitely captured the essence of my home town. It was always considered the ‘down stream’ (somehow indicating inferiority) poor sister of the two adjacent, same size towns, Aurora and Lawrenceburg, only 3 miles apart. Gambling casinos have all but destroyed Lawrenceburg, as you aptly portray and describe. Forunately, Aurora was passed over by the glitzy casino blight. However, unfortunately, with no sizable employers other than the long in place ‘Coffin Factory’ (as we referred to it), Aurora started a steep economic decline in the late ’60’s and into the ’70’s. This is evidenced negatively on the west side of Aurora, where I was raised, by the presence of far too many abandoned, or seemingly abandoned houses; yet, and paradoxically, postively for Aurora’s small downtown area, which is now frozen in time–essentially, as I knew it as a boy. By the way, you show a photo of the Aylor & Meyer feed store. This was built in the 1890’s and run, until the 1930’s recession, as a feed mill, plus, for local farmers by my grandfather, William Rullman and his brothers. Many of my grade school girl classmates wore home made, so called ‘feed sack’ dresses; made from the intentionally many patterned, multi-colored cotton fabric feed sacks sold by this business. An early form of recycling and very early rural sustainability.
    I am writing a novel, set partially in Aurora, prominently including Aurora’s long preent ‘crown jewel’ the beautiful Hillforest. It is included first as a covert stop over and safe house on the undeground RR, just prior to the Civil War, and,later, in Aurora’s most prominent period, the 1950’s—when I lived there, fortunately. I have no idea whether my 40% written book will ever be published (writing it is challenging and consuming,but also interesting and fun). However,in the back of my mind, were it ever published and were it to achieve some level of success, my dream is that it might stimulate and invigorate local leaders, who have made such a success of restoring Hillforest, to retain the look of Aurora’s downtown that you saw and described so well, to spuce it up somewhat, to build wider possibly national recognition of this rural American river town, and in so doing build a new, dependable revenue stream as well as a sense pride for the locals.
    I am very glad that I happened across your photography and your interesting comments about my home town, Aurora, Indiana.

    Good luck !

    Donald H.Rullman
    100 Toms Road
    Stamford, CT 06906

    • Don: Are some of your brothers Roger, Melvin, Millard? Did you attend St. John’s Lutheran School? There were some other Rullmans whom I recall and as I think on this, I believe you are of that family. I live in Huntsville, Alabama (have been here 50+ years). Best regards, Wayne Smith

  40. this is Jims hometown we have seen or been in most of these places our favorite is hill top it is beautiful.Linda

  41. “so we sucked it up and bolted across Ohio in about 4 hours or so.”

    Just for the record, Ohio has lots of small towns just like Aurora along it’s stretch of US 50 and especially along the river. I know time was probably a factor but if you had taken the backroads through Ohio too you probably would have seen them. Maybe next time?

  42. Concerning Aurora Indiana , IWe have lived here for 17 years now and it has inspired many a song. This one I wrote when going along the river in Aurora in 2005 .Thanks Steohen Bauer of BAUER AND BENTLE

  43. ONE thing I want to mention to the originator of this Blog. You missed seeing something in lawrenceburg which would have stuck with you for the rest of your life . It is sort of hidden from most people . It is called the Oxbow and it is the most beautiful place you could see .

  44. Just started a new video titled My Town Indiana. This is about the people in Aurora

  45. I grew up in Aurora and now live in the northeast and everyone here still tease me about asking for a pop. Nice article.

  46. Wow – the Wagon Wheel Restaurant. That place brings back LOTS of memories. Lunch after church on Sundays with those wonderful rolls. We could go across the street to Tandy’s to get whatever groceries we needed on the way home. I grew up there during the 60’s & thought it was the only place on earth. My dad worked at I&M & I went to school at St. John’s. I now live in Tulsa & went back for a visit a few years ago. It’s changed, but not really. So many memories in that place. Thanks for taking the time to give my little hometown the same love I feel for it after all this time!

  47. shucks was before home furniture before that green and scheres my father worked there for many years as a kid i sat on a chair and listened to the basket ball games on the speakers on the street

  48. I HAVE RECENTLY LEARNED OF YOUR UNBELIEVABLE CRUEL SNAPPER TURTLE EVENT THAT HAPPENED TODAY ???????????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME.????????? WITH ALL THE CRUELTIES GOING ON IN THE WORLD, THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE TEACHING YOUR KIDS IN AURORA?????????? I WAS GOING TO MENTION TO MY HUSBAND I WANTED TO TRAVEL THRU YOUR CITY AND SPEND MONEY, ON OUR VACATION. AFTER DISCOVERING THIS BARBARIC EVENT , WE WILL BY PASS YOUR CITY. HEY WHY NOT DO PUPPIES AND KITTENS NEXT YEAR. AND PULL THERE ARMS AND LEGS OFF…… GIVE ME A BREAK……….. JENNY JONES

  49. Pam "Walker" Gleason

    I was born, raised and yes bred in Aurora. Lived there until 1982. Go back HOME to visit family and friends every chance I get. I will be going there tomorrow for the Aurora Farmer’s Fair. Can’t wait until I can move back. Went through all 12 years of school there and Proudly Grqduated from Aurora High School in 1964, we get together every year for a mini reunion and every 5 years for a larger reunion. Can’t say enough about it. Love it! Love it! Love it!

  50. Sandy "Coldwell" Higham

    I too was born & raised in Aurora. Pam and I are best friends have known each other all our lives. I even “yell” at her, but that is Aurora friends for life. We’re a town you wish you had lived in all your life. Jenny Jones what you saw on the news isnt anything like what happens here. The turtles are not hurt in any shape or form. Where that was I have no clue, but would not happen in our town. I have traveled all over & no one I have met can understand how you can feel so close to the ones you went to school with so many years ago, & that friendship still is as strong as it was then. But that is Aurora no matter where you move to Aurora is still home and always will be. We have a FB page Lost Aurora read our comments how we feel about OUR town.

  51. Aurora is a beautiful place. If you do not go to Madison, IN you will have lost a great opportunity to so one of the best places in the US. You could spend 2-4 days visiting places in and around Madison.

  52. JENNY You have your information wrong. The snapper fest event was not held in Aurora, It was held in Ohio County or Rising Sun Indiana. Aurora is in Dearborn County.

  53. Oh yes- Aurora is unlike any other town in the country. Rivers streams, hills and forests all in a collective breath taking panarama that will take you back to a historic time that will allow you to slow down, smile, remember and leave you wanting more of whatever is arouhd the next corner. Usually a friend as old as you are and understands the meaning of being centered, balanced and at ease with the world.

  54. I invite all of you to come and visit Hillforest and take a tour of the beautifully restored Victorian mansion.
    The mansion is open for tours every afternoon except Monday.
    See you at the “world’s fair” this weekend!
    Suzanne

  55. Don Rullman, finish your book; can’t wait to read it. Don, Stan and Kim are cousins of Roy & Roger. The Schuck’s first location (also the site of the Chili House), I think, was on the corner across from Lou’s Pool Hall near the ferry landing. The Green & Schwier furniture store (later Schuck’s Plumbing) was across from Ullrich’s Drugs and The Hobby Shop. Green & Schwiers would always have a basketball window theme at Sectional time. How about “the Devil’s Den” teen canteen? The filling station was a Gulf Station and operated at one time by Mel Johnson, a 3-sport star at AHS. I remember having the classroom windows up for fresh air and then an 18 wheeler would shift thru all 16 gears it seemed; then a train would pass through and whistle at each crossing; then a barge would be traveling upstream and blast its fog horn; then a 4 engine American Airline would lineup for a landing at Boone County Airport; and lastly, cars honked as they passed by the high school. All modes of transportation & their noises still couldn’t stop “the learnin”! Oh yes, Lloyd Holtzclaw taught the Rullman boys geometry as well as how to put a curl on a 5 cent Dairy Queen cone.
    Aurora, MY HOMETOWN.

    • wow! So amazing to see this post. My late father was so proud of his start in life with his math teachings and his Dairy Queen in Aurora. It was my eldest sister who perfected that swirl on the Dilly Bar, I believe… So nice to taken back to my family’s beginnings.

  56. I went to first grade in Araura Ind 1950 My grandfather owned the Neeman hotel My uncle and my cousin lived there for several years after first grade I moved to Dillsboro to live with my grandmother

  57. SHHHHHHH–Don’t tell anybody, we want to keep it just like it is.
    Anybody notice, NO TRASH–NO CORNER DRUG DEALERS, AND NO STREET POLICE. I guess cause it’s still America HERE.

  58. I worked as a manager at Aurora Casket. I would arrive early in the morning while it was still dark. I learned real quick not to go upstairs until after it was light. One morning I went into the large brick building with the faded Aurora Coffin sign on it. Little did I know it was the home of many bats, most notably the Indiana Brown Bat an endangered species. I was overwhelmed with the bats, fluttering around me as I was on the second floor. Coffins are stored in there as a wharehouse and well a bunch of bats flying around with coffins. Needless to say, I stayed out of there until light from then on. Not only where the bats hanging from the ceiling they would find there way into some of the casket covers. Taking the covers off to ship or check them was scary also.

    My favorite thing about that building, were the support beams, I must have measured one at 1.5 feet square, with tongue and grooved, pegged. The craftsmanship in that building was astounding. Under the office was a crawl space, going inside you could still see the oak tree stumps from the original timber cutting over 100 years earlier. Honestly, that building should be put on historical landmarks.

  59. i am in the navy deployed around the western pacific right now. I came across your website with the pictures of my hometown. you brought back some good memories of growing up in aurora. 9 more years of service and i am definitely heading back.

  60. My grandfather, Marion Stephen Eubanks had a realestate business in Aurora in the 1920’s and 30’s
    Around 1918, the family moved to Aurora, Indiana. Marion Stephen Eubanks established Eubanks Realty Co. at 330 Second Street, Aurora, IN with a branch office at 119 West 12th Street, in Cinncinnatti, OH . Roy Ellis Eubanks was in the business also.

    My father, Charles Robert Eubanks graduated from Aurora High School in 1932
    Bob Eubanks
    Leesburg, FL
    eubanks17@centurylink.net

  61. I am an 83 year old granny in Sun City, AZ and I was so thrilled to see your pics. I was making comments on pics I had taken in 2009 when my husband and I were travelling Indiana. Aurora was my hometown and I had taken several pics, one of which was of Aylor & Meyer which looks exactly as it did when I was growing up. My family lived on Ebenezer Ridge which is Indiana 148 out of Aurora. Too bad you didn’t take that route to see the Ebenezer Baptist Church cemetary. My parents and 2 siblings are buried there and two of my nephews restored the cemetary a few years ago. My brother, Ervin Morehead, owned the local hardware store for many years. I was interested in the post by Don Rullman whose family, I believe, still own the local funeral parlor. Thanks for the excellent comments about MY HOME TOWN!

  62. Laura CLaire Sharp

    This is my hometown. I have so many memories of summer’s spend playing in the fields, watching trains, visiting the “Dairy Isle”, chasing fireflies and sitting on the banks of the Ohio River to see the boats come in with my Papaw. The last time I was there was December 2003 and “A Carpenter’s Christmas” could still be heard from the storefronts in downtown. My parents went to Aurora High School and my father still holds a track record there; it has since burned down and was re-erected as the local YMCA. My mother and my uncle worked at Seagram’s for many years,and I really miss the aroma that process casts into the air. I am lucky to have come from such a beautiful place. I live in Texas now, and was raised here, but I hold true to my small-town values. I am sad that many of the houses are crumbling and that the long fingers of urban development will disturb the beauty of days passed. I hope someone puts some money into the rest of the town, so it can be restored to its former glory. There’s nothing quite like small-town America.

  63. I just finished a video of some of the Art Work that seems to be every where in Aurora Indiana

  64. I grew up and currently live in this quaint little, sleepy river town.
    Aurora does have many good childhood and adult memories.

    Walking across the “Old Iron Bridge” from school (which got out a half day for Farmers Fair) to the fair.

    Collecting bottles in the alleys and returning them to Tandy’s IGA or Teaney’s Grocery for the dime.

    My parents owned a shop up the street from Ullrichs Drug store and Soda Fountain, and as a 5 yr old mom would pin an order and the money to my shirt and then tell me to run to the girls at the fountain. I would run down the street to the fountain, they would take the order fix it, hand me the bag and tell me to run back to my mom. Ahh life in a small town.

    Christmas was magical, the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving you knew Christmas was getting close, when Ray Schuck would paper his windows up and would set up his wonderful Christmas display. Each year adding a new piece. Then Thanksgiving Day evening he would tear down the paper and reveal to the world the wonderful display.
    Each day he would wash the window first thing in the morning, to get rid of the finger and nose prints on the glass.

    Nelson’s TV is still in business as a TV repair center, and has been there for 30+ years.

    Runner’s Service Station is a unique piece of Aurora history, it’s art deco style and porcelain wall panels make it shine in the sun, and Vivian the owner keeps it in working order, for when her husband returns. He passed away over 15 years ago. :-)

    Aylor & Meyer is an active feedmill, still bringing in loads of corn and animal feed, and bagging it up for sale, among other things.

    Hillforest Mansion is the crown jewel of Aurora, hidden among the Sycamore trees, it’s views of the majestic Ohio river silently gliding by. True story about Thomas Gaff not given on the tour is where Mr Gaff died, Officially he died in Cincinnati, but what they don’t tell you is he passed away in a house of ill repute.

    Confession time, the abandoned house picture, is actually still lived in, the house was once a beautiful federal style home that has seen MUCH better days.

    Walton’s Photography Studio was located thereon Second street in Aurora, in the late 1800s early 1900’s.

    Another of my childhood memories was the old ferry, my grandmother would take us down to the penny candy store, and get us a quarter’s worth of candy and then walk down to the ferry landing, where we would board the ferry and ride it across the river to Petersburg, KY and as long as you didnt get off you could ride for aslong as you wanted, so we would sit on the bench, watch the river flow past us and eat our candy.

    Farmers Fair is another memory every one seems to have, One of Indiana’s Oldest Fairs/Festivals (Versailles Pumpkin Show is older, but Farmers Fair has been going on 104 years continually) This grand event takes over the down town, always ending on the first Saturday of October. The parade is usually 2 + hours in length and brings 30,000 people down town for the parade.

    The art work that Stephen Bauer mentions is an ongoing project with the SEI Art Guild (now has there home in the old Schuck’s building) and Main Street Aurora. This is the 3rd or 4th round of “Windows on Aurora” which has turned eyesore boarded up windows into a look into the history of Aurora.

    I can remember Grandpa Walton coming into town one summer aboard the Delta Queen, she stopped at the landing and let the passengers off to walk around the town, as the fire department filled the Delta’s water tanks up, She is steam driven, and needed a fill up so the Calliope could play as she came into Cincinnati. As the passengers began to reboard the Delta, her calliope came to life and she played tunes as she headed further up river.

    Aurora Schuck’s passing and burial in Riverview Cemetery did make national headlines, as a local company dug a HUGE hole, poured a concrete floor and walls, a crane lowered the 1976 Red Cadillac El Dorado into it’s final resting spot, and then lowered Aurora’s casket into the cadillac, and finally a slab was lowered to cover the entire structure. Years later when Ray passed away he was cremated and a hole was dug down to the concrete lid, a hole bored into the lid and Ray’s ashes were placed in the Cadillac next to Aurora. The hole was plugged and the ground filled in, now if you are in the cemetery you would NEVER know there is a car buried there.

    I can remember the trains that came through town, we lived along the tracks and they would stop the train and the engineer and brakemen would walk across the street and get some ice cream and the Dairy Isle. We always got a chance to climb aboard and look around, and sometimes the caboose would stop too and we could “ride” in the caboose.

    There are many treasures hidden off the beaten path in this sleepy little river town where they roll the sidewalks up at 5:00pm every evening, businesses close at noon on Wednesday, Why? because they have done it that way for YEARS.

    There are still many family businesses in town, some having been there over 100 years.

    Wunderlich Insurance Co – 100+ years
    Tandy’s IGA – 50+ years
    Nelson’s TV – 30+ years
    Bible Book Store – 25+ years
    Aurora Floral – 40+ years
    Neff Shoes – 90+ years
    Several beauty shops have been there for 30+ years
    Gamble’s Furniture Store – 70+ years
    Moreton Printing – 30+ years
    Aurora Library – 90+ years
    Aurora Lions – 65+ years (hosts of the Aurora Farmers Fair since the 50’s)
    The Aurora City Park – 150+ years old
    There are others and I apologize for forgetting to name them.

    Aurora has a history of being a whiskey and beer town, as the Gaff distilleries and Crescent Brewery were here in the 1800’s, and actually made more whiskey than Lynchburg, TN, Bourbon County, KY, or even Lawrenceburg, IN (Then home of Seagrams and Schenley).

    Aurora is not perfect, but it does offer a slice of Americana off the beaten track. A place to witness small town USA.

    So come and visit

    Visit the City Building one of Indiana’s oldest continually used government offices, the city museum which is housed in the old fire station, and city jail.

    Visit the Historical Library at the Depot, recently renovated in the historic railroad depot at the head of second street.

    Visit Hillforest and Victorian Era Aurora, and watch the eyes of the painting in the bed room follow you.

    Visit the SEI Art Guild and Studio for some great local artisians.

    Visit the town during Farmer’s Fair (always the four days leading to the first Saturday in October)

    Look up Main Street Aurora and find out when some of their events are around town, like the historical walks and talks along the towns streets and alleys, like the haunted history walking tour, the Miracle on Main Street during the holiday season, and many many more evens.

    Visit the modern reincarnation of the Crescent Brewery in The Great Crescent Brewery, a local brew house with some wonderful hand crafted brews.

    See you here.

    • I went to high school in Aurora 74-78, graduating with the last class of “Red Devils”. My mother and her ancestors (Jackson / Newman) are all from this area, dating back at least to the early 1800’s that I am aware of. She had moved away after college (Franklin) and we returned when her parents’ health failed in 74. After graduating, we moved back to Virginia, where I live now. Mom passed away in 2003, but I still have a lot of momentos of Aurora, some dating back to the early 1800’s. For most of my time in Aurora, we lived on Sunnyside and I could walk to school in 3 minutes, and home for lunch!

      Donald: I too remember that day that Will Geer (Grandpa Walton) visited Aurora. I remember him dressed in overalls and lounging in the grass by the landing while local kids all gathered around–which he seemed to enjoy immensely–as he chewed on a piece of straw. I can see it as if it were yesterday! My recollection, though, was that the reason the Delta Queen made that unscheduled stop was because the river was temporarily too high for her to make it under a bridge farther upstream. Maybe adding all that water not only fueled her caliope but also settled her into the river a little deeper! Coincidently, where I live now is not far from the actual Hamner homestead in Schuyler VA (Earl Hamner wrote “The Waltons” stories initially about his actual upbringing here in the Blue Ridge mountains) and I have visited there and met many of his family members many times.

      I have fond memories of the relatively short time I spent in Aurora, and also the stories posted by others here seem so familiar to me as my grandparents and mother used to supplement my knowledge with tales about the old days there. I went back once in the late 80’s with mom to help her sell the family house on Sunnyside, as renting it out long-distance had become burdensome to her in her declining widowhood. I would like to get back to Aurora sometime and spend a week or so re-visiting part of my past. Apparently it hasn’t changed a lot, so I’ll probably feel at home.

      Dr. Rob Barlow
      barlowbr1@gmail.com

  65. One last note

    The big sign showing the coming of the river view condos. Is not going to happen, the developer lost funding and the project will never get built. Thank God!

  66. The Schuck building belonged to my (R.I.P.) Uncle Raymond Schuck who was the older brother to my father Nathaniel Schuck. Uncle Ray loved the town of Aurora so much I always felt it was one of the many reasons he loved his wife Aurora. To bury your wife in her favorite Cadillac is one heck of a way to show your love for her that is for sure. Aurora was a great town to grow up in as a kid and probably still is. Uncle Ray was a great hard working man as well as the rest of the Schuck family. They were a good influence for me as to the words “You snooze, You lose”. I don’t think sleep or vacation was in their vocabulary.

    • Thanny,

      I am Aurora’s nephew. I live in Miami, Florida. I know your father and all of your uncles, including Kathryn, your ant. We still coomunicate via U.S. mail, especially during this holiday season. We send each other Christmas cards. We have been doing so throughout all these years. Here is my e-mail: jcantorrt@hotmail.com. Drop me a few lines when you get a chance. I will love to hear from you and your father. I still have a video your father made after Aurora’s death. He came down to Miami and my mother (Blanca) gave him a bunch of pictures when they were young back in Cuba when they (Ray & Aurora)used to travel during Christmas times before Castro and his revolution took over. My name is Juan Canto. Juan is Spanish for Johnny. They used to call me Johnny! Kathryn told me that her son Johnny, lost his house in a fire. She now lives in an apartment in Dillsboro. She used to have a beautiful house on a 35 acres land, which was sold after her husband’s death. A few years ago, she told us that (if my memory serves me right) your uncle Art and Danny also past away and Frank was still living in California, but he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease or Altziemer’s. How’s your father? He used to be in show business or something like that and he used to travel to Florida (Fort Lauderdale) quite a few times. Whenever you pay a visit to Kathryn, she can tell you a lot of stories about Aurora, Ray, and Blanca (my mom). How Earl is doing? I actually never had the opportunity to tallk to him a lot like I did with Art, Danny, and Nathaniel, but it is always nice to hear from all of you guys! I wonder what ever happened to the other building to the left of store. Ray built a beautiful suite for him and Aurora on top of that building because they wanted to sell the house on Ebenezer road. She never actually got to live in it because she died due to her Cancer. I remember that even uncle Ray installed an electrical stairs with a seat so she could sit on it and ride all the way up there, but never got to use it. Lots of years, lots of memories!!! I remember that once I helped uncle Ray to take down the Christmas displays and put them away in the the back store in some shelves that he allocated just for that. I even worked on the second floor (right below the suite I was telling you about) where he was constructing the apartments for rent. The gallery, originally, was located upstairs toward the side of the building. That building had a basement where I also worked at removing the iron moldings that was given shape to the ceiling. They were there, according to Ray, since the 1940’s and nobody ever remove them. They had the idea to build a restaurant down there, but I guess it never was completed. You see, there are a lot of memories and detailed information I have provided to you, meaning that I am real, legitimate family member! Drop me a few lines. I will love to hear from you guys!

      Sincerely,

      Juan (Johnny) Canto

  67. Harry Eugene (Bud) Gordon

    I born and raised in Aurora. I lived there until 1951 when I went into the Air Force. I remember going to the movies on Saturday night with my Dad and after the movie we would go to the Shamrock Bar and he would a glass of Beer and I would have a coke. And I remember the 1937 flood that the water went half way up second street. I remember the great farmer fair each year. What a wonderful town Aurora is and the great memories I have of it.

  68. Very nice small town atmosphere despite the “Good Ole boy” government that runs the town. Its not what you know its who you know that counts in this town. Become great friends *wink* with the Mayor and or council if you want something done here.

  69. Just happened on to this site and this reported visit to Aurora Indiana. I grew up in Cincinnati Ohio, Price Hill to be exact. My husband grew up in Cleves Ohio which is a hop skip and a jump from Aurora. After buying a home in Price Hill, having two sons together and watching the decline of Price Hill…we relocated first to Harrison Ohio, then to Dover Indiana where our oldest son graduated in 2011, we bought our home just outside of Aurora Indiana in Center Township…we LOVE Aurora’s small town frozen in time feel. We immediately felt at home here. We wanted to give our sons a safer place to grow up and better schools then we had..we have accomplished that here…we have both decided…”they will have to carry us out of here” We will Never leave Aurora!! My husband drives an hour to and from work daily to Blue Ash Ohio..yes that is a drive..but this lil town is SOOO Worth it!!

  70. You missed a real gem in Aurora. Veraestau Historic Site (up Market St. Just out of town) had the most gorgeous view of the river and valley. The house was started in 1810 and is full of antiques donated by the Cook family (of Cook Pumps).

    Also, the sign declaring the building of the condos on the river is still there, but no condos have been built thankfully!

  71. I was hoping you would have took note on the 7 different church towers in Aurora. This is a treat when viewed from the river as well.

  72. Thanks for passing through our town of Aurora! My husband’s grandfather used to own Gabbard’s furniture store that stood right where the new condos will be. We feel sad that the developers didn’t keep the original buildings and create loft condos that would’ve preserved the site’s history, rather than tearing it all down. Thankfully, Aurora still has a lot of history to preserve as long as we locals work hard to protect it and we have tourists such as yourself to come through and enjoy it.

  73. I moved to Aurora with my family when I was twelve. I may have not been born in Aurora, but I do consider it my hometown. I worked at Master Chef for Charlie, as well as my brothers and sisters. I loved living in Aurora during my Jr. and Sr. High school years and was very upset when my mom moved us back to Hamilton, her hometown. This was really nice to read, it brought back so many wonderful memories.

  74. I am so sorry that when you went down Route 50 in Lawrenceburg that you only saw the Walgreens and Fast food places. Had you turned Left at the Light on the corner of Walnut and Route 50 you would have turned into historic downtown Lawrenceburg Indiana where I own a wonderful little quilt shop in a restored 150 year old building. Across the street from my shop is the mom and pop “Cafe Delight” and next door to them is the wonderful books store that sell new and used books. Down the street is a Adams Arts where he sells all sorts of artist supplies and holds classes for all ages…5 to 95. Then there is Hidden treasures that sells all sorts of items from local artists. There is the local bike shop and the list goes on. You missed the town of Lawrenceburg :0( So please, if you ever do this again, turn left onto Walnut Street and see out town…Route 50 is where the big commercial places are because they can afford the high rent….in the little town in the old buildings with creeky floors is where you will find the PEOPLE of our fair city and our little businesses :0)

  75. Don’t worry, that condo development sign has been there for close to a decade. They’ve replaced it with a newer one, but to my knowledge there is no date for them to break ground.

  76. We have and always will love that little town of “Aurora Ind” our home town forever….

  77. Martha Emery Hoffman

    The Christian Bookstore used to be G.C. Murphy Dime Store. I worked there through high school. In the 50-60s, people came to town on Saturday evening to shop for fresh candy at Murphy’s. I worked in the candy counter, measuring out the candy and nuts. Across the street was the Palace Theater where everyone saw the latest movies.

  78. Martha Emery Hoffman

    And, yes, I grew up in West Aurora, formerly called Cochran. Oh how I wish it could be restored.

  79. Jenny Negangard Satchwill Turnage

    Scout: At the very top of Hillforest is a round cupola where Mr. Thomas Gaff had a clear view of the Ohio River boat traffic. I believe his telescope is still there. My late husband, Ed Satchwill was related to the Gaff family.
    Also, Duane, you have been gone too long. There never was a Aurora High School ARENA. It was known as “The Gym” in the 50″s when my husband played basketball. The gym burned down a number of years ago when the roof was being retarred. So sad ….

  80. Proud to call aurora my home :) great little town, awesome people, no huge city life! <3 the old stories of Dearborn county are endless! Love listening to the way things used to be

  81. Nelson tv is not a bar….it’s still Nelson tv. My sister and her husband own it.

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