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West Central
East Central
Welcome to southwest Indiana  
The Wabash and Ohio Rivers border southwest Indiana. The land in this area today is most visibly a combination of deciduous forests, rolling hills, and sprawling agricultural fields. Actually, however, this region offers much more natural variety, with swamps, marshes, seep springs, bottomland forests, sandstone and limestone cliffs, and, along portions of the eastern border, karst plains (characterized by sinkholes that drain water into underground caverns).


Monroe and Lawrence Counties have the largest limestone outcrops in the country; from their quarries has come the stone for hundreds of public buildings and memorials across the nation, including the Empire State Building, the Pentagon, the National Cathedral, and Grand Central Station. Besides limestone quarrying, the area is home to wide-scale coal mining and, in the Evansville area, many industries that have introduced tremendous pollution into the Ohio River.

The region was one of the most important centers in Indiana’s early history. Vincennes, on the lower Wabash River, was the first European settlement in what later became Indiana. Established by the French as a military outpost in the 1730s, it became an important staging ground for French and British explorers who vied for control over the western frontier. Evansville, located near the convergence of the Ohio and Wabash Rivers, soon became an important city—the seventh largest in the state by the 1850s. Nearby New Harmony was the site for a communal society established in 1825, which proved to be a short-lived, but now famous, experiment.

Pertinent ecosystems

Relevant environmental terms/issues
Air pollution
Deforestation/habitat destruction
Water pollution

Related authors
Theodore Dreiser
Baynard Rush Hall
Eli Lilly
Roger Pfingston
Ernie Pyle
Kate M. Rabb
Scott Russell Sanders
James Alexander Thom
Marguerite Young