The Ohio River has been a constant in the history of New Albany and southern Indiana for centuries. Long before Europeans arrived, native peoples relied on the river for drinking water, for transportation, and for irrigating crops. When Joel, Nathaniel, and Abner Scribner traveled the river, they recognized the falls of the Ohio as a barrier to navigation and as a source of water power. As New Albany developed, its fortunes depended on the Ohio. The success of early industries such as milling, shipbuilding, furniture making underscore the river’s significance in the early town’s early history and development.
The sites in this tour illustrate New Albany’s relationship to the river. They highlight disparate activities and events that show how native peoples, residents, and businesses used, experienced, and negotiated the challenges and opportunities presented by the river. Collectively, they show an intimate, ever-changing relationship between New Albany and the Ohio. Although the river no longer plays as important a role in transpiration and commerce as it once did, it remains a formidable presence. No history of New Albany can ignore its significance.