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Tell City, Indiana
City of Tell City
A statue of William Tell and his son sits upon a fountain outside city hall. It is a famous city landmark.
A statue of William Tell and his son sits upon a fountain outside city hall. It is a famous city landmark.
Location of Tell City in Perry County, Indiana.
Location of Tell City in Perry County, Indiana.
Country United States
State Indiana
County Perry
Township Troy
Acquired July 1857
Founded August 1858
 • Total 4.65 sq mi (12.04 km2)
 • Land 4.53 sq mi (11.74 km2)
 • Water 0.12 sq mi (0.30 km2)  2.37%
420 ft (128 m)
 • Total 7,506
 • Density 1,655.49/sq mi (639.22/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 812
FIPS code 18-75248
GNIS feature ID 451548

Tell City is a city in Troy Township, Perry County, in the U.S. state of Indiana, along the Ohio River. The population was 7,272 at the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Perry County.


Tell City traces its 150+ year old roots to a meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, in November 1856. A group of Swiss-German immigrants met there to organize a society known as the "Swiss Colonization Society." Its purpose was to obtain affordable homesteads for mechanics, shopkeepers, factory workers and small farmers in a location where all could live in harmony.

The Society decided to purchase a tract of land three miles (5 km) square to be surveyed into a city plot. The group sent out to purchase the land was told to keep in mind a healthful climate, fertile soil, good water, ample timber, and a location near a navigable river and a railroad, if possible. Purchase of such a site was made in July 1857. The tract, containing 4,152 acres (16.80 km2), was laid out in 392 town blocks with 7,328 building lots and 294 garden lots.

Tell City Watertower
Tell City water tower

Before the settlers arrived, a name for the new town was selected. Initially called Helvetia, it was soon renamed Tell City, a name easier to pronounce and remember for English-speaking people. It was named for the legendary Swiss hero and liberator, William Tell.

Indicative of the foresightedness of Tell City's founders are the wide streets. They are named for great persons of the military, arts, letters and science: DeKalb, Watt, Winkelreid, Steuben, Payne, Herrman, Reubens, Lafayette, Schiller, Tell, Fulton, Jefferson, Mozart, Franklin, Humboldt, Pestalozzi, Washington, Blum and Gutenberg.

With 100 years of recorded history, the citizens of Tell City held a centennial celebration August 10–17, 1958 in honor of the early settlers and the founding of Tell City. After the success of the Centennial, the Tell City Historical Society decided to sponsor a festival in 1959 to determine if the community would support it as an annual event. The festival, named Schweizer Fest (Swiss Fest), was a great success. Today, the festival remains one of Indiana's longest-running community festivals.

On March 17, 1960, Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 710, a Lockheed Electra turboprop airliner flying from Chicago to Miami lost a wing due to aerodynamic flutter and crashed in southern Indiana near Tell City. All 63 on board, including the crew, perished. The victims were impacted in a 30-foot-deep (9.1 m) crater, which became their final resting place. A monument with the names of the victims and the date of the tragedy marks the grave.

Steamboat 'Tell City'

The steamboat 'TELL CITY' was built in 1889 and named after Tell City. It was used to carry passengers and freight on the Ohio River until it sank in April 6, 1917 in Little Hocking, Ohio. The pilothouse survived the sinking and is the oldest remaining steamboat pilothouse, located at the Ohio River Museum in Marietta, Ohio.


Tell City is located at 37°57′11″N 86°45′41″W / 37.953036°N 86.761372°W / 37.953036; -86.761372.

According to the 2010 census, Tell City has a total area of 4.635 square miles (12.00 km2), of which 4.53 square miles (11.73 km2) (or 97.73%) is land and 0.105 square miles (0.27 km2) (or 2.27%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 1,030
1870 1,660 61.2%
1880 2,112 27.2%
1890 2,094 −0.9%
1900 2,680 28.0%
1910 3,369 25.7%
1920 4,086 21.3%
1930 4,873 19.3%
1940 5,395 10.7%
1950 5,735 6.3%
1960 6,609 15.2%
1970 7,933 20.0%
1980 8,704 9.7%
1990 8,088 −7.1%
2000 7,845 −3.0%
2010 7,272 −7.3%
2020 7,506 3.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 7,272 people, 3,224 households, and 1,971 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,605.3 inhabitants per square mile (619.8/km2). There were 3,574 housing units at an average density of 789.0 per square mile (304.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.5% White, 0.3% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 0.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.0% of the population.

There were 3,224 households, of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.9% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.9% were non-families. 34.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.84.

The median age in the city was 42 years. 22% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.1% were from 25 to 44; 27% were from 45 to 64; and 19.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.5% male and 52.5% female.


Tell City is home to the Tell City High School Marksmen. The school is in Class 2A for football, basketball, and baseball.

Tell City has a public library, a branch of the Perry County Public Library.

Notable people

There have been several notable residents and former residents of Tell City, Indiana.

  • Steven Goodson - Rhodes College Head Basketball Coach, former student manager at Graduate Assistant Coach at University of Kentucky; former assistant basketball coach at University of Minnesota, Texas Tech University, University of Memphis and High Point University.
  • Krista Blunk - former college basketball star
  • Wally Bruner - American journalist and television host
  • Ray Eddy - former college basketball coach of the Purdue Boilermakers
  • Paul D. Etienne - Sixth Archbishop of Seattle
  • Tom Kron - former college (Univ of Kentucky) and professional basketball star for the St. Louis Hawks, Seattle SuperSonics and Kentucky Colonels
  • Bob Lochmueller - former NBA player, college & high school basketball coach
  • Edwin D. Patrick - commander of the 6th Infantry Division during World War II
  • Bob Polk - former college basketball coach; head coach for Vanderbilt, St Louis and Rice Owls men's basketball
  • Burke Scott - former college basketball player, high school basketball coach and U.S. Army Officer
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