Blue Highways: White Cloud, Indiana
Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 8:52AM
Michael L. Hess in Blue Highways, Indiana, White Cloud, William Least-Heat Moon, William Trogdon, ghost town, road trip

Click on Thumbnail for MapUnfolding the Map

Meandering eastward, we journey with William Least-Heat Moon through the backroads of southern Indiana.  Click on the map to see our journey thus far.



Book Quote

"On through what was left of White Cloud..."

Blue Highways:  Part 1, Chapter 5

White Cloud, Indiana. Photo by Robert Powell and featured in Panoramio. Click on photo to go to host page.White Cloud, Indiana

There really isn't much to say about White Cloud.  In one way, White Cloud is a symbol of the forward march of life and time.  White Cloud was once a town, and now it really isn't.  It sits, unincorporated, in Harrison County, Indiana.  Harrison County was named for the ninth president of the United States, William Henry Harrison, who once owned much of the land in the area.

Even in a country as young as the United States, there are remnants of life and evidence of time's passage all over.  In New Mexico, where I live, there are many ghost towns littering the landscape, products of booms then busts in precious minerals.  You can find evidence of such places all over the West.  Perhaps the price of the mineral being mined suddenly dropped, the mines closed, and the people drifted away to other more profitable ventures.  Perhaps a promised rail line didn't materialize, and the life blood of the town was cut off. 

My wife and I recently stayed in a bed and breakfast in Chloride, New Mexico. It was an amazing place, now populated by only about a dozen families, but around 1900 had 5,000 people.  The town was built around silver mines.  It had a newspaper, saloons, a general store.  But by the 1920s, the people had drifted away, the paper had closed down and the general store was boarded up and left, with all its merchandise still inside.  It is now a fascinating museum stocked with most of the merchandise that was left.

I co-own some property with my sisters near what isn't even a ghost town anymore, but around 1900 there was a thriving community built around a lumber mill in Northern California.  The town, Irmulco, was named for the Irvine and Muir Lumber Company.  Old pictures show a sawmill with a small train to carry logs from the logging areas into the mill.  However, the mill was built to be portable.  When the area was logged out, the mill moved, and the town disappeared.  All that are left are some very old and crumbling wood buildings, the foundation of the sawmill (with indentations still in the grass where the sawmill once sat, a crumbled dam used to back up Olds Creek where the logs were floated until ready to cut, and an old roadbed and track bed.  One can still find artifacts from the times - a huge steel circular saw, old beer, soda and occasionally, medicinal bottles.  Once, I even found a penny from the 1900s stuck on a horizontal support beam in the shelter that served as a railway station.

Everywhere you go, there are remnants of humanity that have gone by and disappeared, from the pueblo ruins in the Southwest to the forgotten and buried subway stations in New York City.  I'm fascinated by these remnants of the past.  They are the true time capsules that, when we discover them, give us a glimpse of what life was like.  William Least-Heat Moon only gives a passing mention to White Cloud, but even a mention of a forgotten place contains whispers of what it once was, if we bother to listen.

If you want to know more about White Cloud

This is all I could find, folks.  White Cloud continues to hold its secrets.

Wikipedia: White Cloud

But here's some info on ghost towns around the world:

10 Most Amazing Ghost Towns
Ghost Towns
Ghost Town Gallery
Ghost Towns of the American West
Ghost Town USA
Wikipedia: Ghost Town

You can also find information individual region's ghost towns on Google, Bing or your search engine of choice.

Next up: Corydon, Indiana

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