The Indiana Insider Blog

French Lick West Baden Museum and More

Many people have heard of French Lick, Indiana. Maybe because of Larry Bird. Maybe because of the elephants that hang out there in the summer. Maybe because of the historical significance of its two beautiful hotels. Well, there is much more in the towns’ history.

But, first I will indulge you with the beauty of the hotels. French Lick (with its famous Pluto springs!) …IMG_0388 IMG_0404 IMG_0403West Baden (beautiful dome and outdoor gardens) …IMG_0392 IMG_0393 IMG_0394Did I mention we took the trolley between the properties which wasn’t operating last time I visited?IMG_0400 IMG_0399 IMG_0391But the new history I learned was at the French Lick West Baden Museum. IMG_0465 IMG_0466I thought I knew a decent amount about French Lick and West Baden’s history … mostly revolving around the two hotels and their renovations. But this museum (which is very well done and even with some kid friendly parts!) showcases more than I imagined. From the beginnings of the town complete with a map that shows you images of old inns, gambling locations and churches ….

IMG_0468To historic pieces … IMG_0469To all things Larry Bird and sports!IMG_0473And finally the crown jewel … the circus history!IMG_0474Back in the day the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus wintered right in French Lick. The exhibit features the world’s largest circus diorama and I’m pretty confident that is right! This is only part of the exhibit …IMG_0476 IMG_0477 IMG_0479 IMG_0480Armed with a clip board to explain pieces of the display you walk around and enjoy all the aspects that made a circus what it was in the mid 1900s … the traveling component on the railroad, the parades in small towns and of course, the big top!

We even found new information from the newspaper articles on display:

  • There was a train accident that killed 83 circus workers in Northern Indiana
  • West Baden hotel sometimes became the practicing ring for circus acts

Amazing, really and so many more pieces that I won’t share because you just have to visit.

Oh, and while you are there you are bound to get hungry. Can I please suggest a wonderful breakfast (or lunch) spot? Mickies. Just about the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had (and my daughter’s cinnamon roll was pretty good too!).IMG_0410 IMG_0408For more information on all there is to do in the area, be sure to Visit French Lick West Baden.

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Written by : Living in Indianapolis since 2001, Carrie is no stranger to traveling throughout the state. She has worked at Conner Prairie and at the Indiana Office of Tourism. Now working for the Indiana Tourism Association and having a young daughter, Carrie has even more opportunities to take advantage of Indiana's many attractions. Carrie receives compensation from the Indiana Office of Tourism Development for blogging. For more information, see our FTC Disclosure page.