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Clarksville, Indiana
Clarksville Town Hall
Clarksville Town Hall
Flag of Clarksville, Indiana
Location of Clarksville in Clark County, Indiana.
Location of Clarksville in Clark County, Indiana.
Country United States
State Indiana
County Clark
Townships Silver Creek, Jeffersonville
 • Type Town Council
 • Total 10.23 sq mi (26.51 km2)
 • Land 10.04 sq mi (26.00 km2)
 • Water 0.20 sq mi (0.51 km2)
456 ft (139 m)
 • Total 22,333
 • Density 2,224.62/sq mi (858.90/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 812 & 930
FIPS code 18-12934
GNIS feature ID 2396649

Clarksville is a town in Clark County, Indiana, United States, along the Ohio River and is a part of the Louisville Metropolitan area. The population was 21,724 at the 2010 census. The town was founded in 1783 by early resident George Rogers Clark at the only seasonal rapids on the entire Ohio River, it is the oldest American town in the former Northwest Territory. The town is home to the Colgate clock, one of the largest clocks in the world and the Falls of the Ohio State Park, home to the world's largest exposed Devonian period fossil bed.


The site that would become Clarksville was first used as a base of operations by George Rogers Clark during the American Revolution. In 1778 he established a post on an island at the head of the Falls of the Ohio, from which he trained his 175-man regiment for the defense to the west. After the war, Clark was granted a tract of 150,000 acres (610 km2) for his services in the war. In 1783, 1,000 acres (4 km2) were set aside for the development of a town, Clarksville. The same year a stockade was built and settlement began.

The explorer William Clark was a younger brother of George Rogers Clark. Renowned historian Stephen Ambrose writes of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in Undaunted Courage, "When they shook hands [at Clarksville], the Lewis and Clark Expedition began." A two-figure statue near the falls commemorates the expedition. Several localities other than Clarksville claim precedence for the start of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, most notably St. Louis, Missouri.

Due to the many floods in the nineteenth century and the Indiana Canal Company's failed competition to build a canal around the Ohio Falls, the town struggled. On August 24, 1805 the Indiana Territorial Legislature authorized the construction of a canal around the Falls of the Ohio at Clarksville. The first attempt failed and the investors lost their money. Historians believe it was used to finance the conspiracy of Aaron Burr. Developers tried to build a canal in 1817 and again in 1820. But the race to build the canal was lost in 1826 when the federal government made a large grant to build the Louisville and Portland Canal. The lack of a canal handicapped the growth of the town as the Falls of the Ohio made river transport from the city difficult.

Clarksville became a popular dueling spot for Kentuckians who wanted to dodge their home state's anti-dueling laws. The most famous of these was the 1809 duel between Henry Clay and Humphrey Marshall. There was an attempt to build a second town within Clarksville's boundaries, named Ohio Falls City, until the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that this would be illegal.

George Rogers Clark cabin reproduction at Clarksville, closeup

The town was managed by a ten-member Board of Trustees in the charter from Virginia. The trustees were allowed to align lots along roads and sell the lots for the proceeds to benefit the town. The trustees could elect replacements as needed and did not have to reside in the town. This remained controversial with residents until 1889 when the board stopped meeting and was replaced by a three-member board. One member was selected by the Floyd County Commissioners, one by the Clark County Commissioners, and one by residents of Clarksville. Between 1889 and 1937, the town established a five-member board entirely elected by residents. The historic records related to this governmental change were lost in the Ohio River flood of 1937.

The Great Flood of 1937 decimated the town. The entire town was submerged beneath as much as 12 feet (3.7 m) of water in some areas for over three weeks during January and February. With almost all of the old town destroyed, Clarksville was rebuilt with a new modern city plan.

The post-World War II housing boom and new jobs brought growth to the city. The population has increased from 2,400 in 1940 to 22,000 in 2000. The city has expanded to the north by annexing several sizable suburbs. By 1981 the State of Indiana changed statutes to convert the managing board of trustees to a council with members rather than trustees. In 1990 voters approved expansion of members of the Town Council from five to seven following the area growth. Clarksville is now the major shopping hub of Southern Indiana, with the hub area centered on Lewis and Clark Parkway and nearby Veterans Parkway.


Clarksville is located at 38°18′43″N 85°46′2″W / 38.31194°N 85.76722°W / 38.31194; -85.76722 (38.311885, -85.767265).

According to the 2010 census, Clarksville has a total area of 10.17 square miles (26.34 km2), of which 9.97 square miles (25.82 km2) (or 98.03%) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (or 1.97%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,037
1890 1,692 63.2%
1900 2,370 40.1%
1910 2,743 15.7%
1920 2,322 −15.3%
1930 2,243 −3.4%
1940 2,386 6.4%
1950 5,905 147.5%
1960 8,088 37.0%
1970 13,298 64.4%
1980 15,164 14.0%
1990 19,833 30.8%
2000 21,400 7.9%
2010 21,724 1.5%
2020 22,333 2.8%
Source: US Census Bureau

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 21,724 people, 9,175 households, and 5,464 families living in the town. The population density was 2,178.9 inhabitants per square mile (841.3/km2). There were 9,839 housing units at an average density of 986.9 per square mile (381.0/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 85.1% White, 5.6% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 5.7% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.5% of the population.

There were 9,175 households, of which 29.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.0% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.4% were non-families. 33.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.98.

The median age in the town was 37.3 years. 22.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.5% were from 25 to 44; 24.8% were from 45 to 64; and 15.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 48.0% male and 52.0% female.


2016WIKI FallsOfTheOhioSP3June13
The Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center located next to the Ohio River fossil beds

Clarksville has the largest exposed fossil beds from the Devonian period. This area has now been incorporated in the Falls of the Ohio State Park, where the state has built an education center. The fossils include plant and marine life from a prehistoric coral reef that are 386 million years old.

Several other local parks included sports fields, such as the 332-acre (1.3 km2) Lapping Park, which contains a golf course, soft ball field, shelter house, amphitheater, and hiking trails.

The city has the "7th largest clock in the world", at the former Colgate-Palmolive Plant near the Ohio River. Many locals still mistakenly claim it as the "2nd largest clock in the world", but it was surpassed years ago. As the Colgate company closed the plant in early 2008, the clock's future was in question. The town has vowed to keep the clock in its current location, which can be seen from across the river in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.

The Clarksville Little Theater is one of the oldest continuously running community theaters in the United States. Also located here is Derby Dinner Playhouse, the only dinner theater in the area.

Texas Roadhouse
First Texas Roadhouse at the Green Tree Mall

The restaurant chain Texas Roadhouse originated here, and it has kept an outlet at its original location in the Green Tree Mall. Clarksville is also the home of the nation's second largest Bass Pro at the River Falls Mall.

Twin cities

The Clarksville sister or twin city program began in 1998. Bewdley and Melton Mowbray in the UK were the first sister cities to begin friendship ties in 1998 and 1999 and relations have continued. Most recently La Garenne-Colombes in Paris urban area, France joined the sister cities of Clarksville.



Clarksville Community School Corporation, Greater Clark County Schools, and West Clark Community Schools serve sections of Clarksville.

Notable people

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