In recent history, French Lick, in Orange County, has become known as the home of basketball star Larry Bird, but did you know that it was famous long before that for very different reasons?
Buffalo and other animals have visited the area for centuries, attracted to the area’s natural salt springs.
Early settlers in the area believed that these mineral rich springs had medicinal powers, and by the 1840’s hotels to accommodate the many visitors to the area were built in French Lick and neighboring West Baden.
Catering to a wealthy clientele, the hotels were constantly renovated and expanded to include amenities such as golf courses and horseback riding stables.
The medicinal benefits of the springs were ultimately debunked, but the area continued to attract tourists with the building of casinos.
The area even had one particularly infamous visitor, Chicago gangster Al Capone, who came to nearby French Lick’s casinos to gamble away his loot.