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Pike County History

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Pike County has a wealth of historical background because it is the oldest county in the state. When the Wabash & Erie Canal was completed in 1852, it crossed the Patoka River near the community of Dongola. Tow paths for the mules that pulled the boats remain in part. Buffalo traces crossed the county and were instrumental in westward migration.

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History records that a fort named White Oak Springs was built in 1807 for protection against Indians. “County” status was established in 1816. In 1820 the first school opened. Abraham Lincoln addressed citizens in 1850 at Deffendoll’s Grove, 20 years after passing through Pike County to Illinois. which was later named the "Lincoln Trail."

Coal was discovered in 1860 and changed the county’s focus. Today several mines fuel two local power plants, and the largest family-owned trucking company in Indiana is located in Otwell.

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