The Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville lies on the north shore of the Ohio River opposite from Louisville, Kentucky, on the south shore. The Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville is about 130 river miles downriver (134 kilometers or 83 miles southwest) from Cincinnati and some 185 river miles upstream (167 kilometers or 104 miles east-northeast) from Evansville, Indiana. The Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville is part of the Ohio River System.
The Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville is the seat of Clark County in southern Indiana. Named after Thomas Jefferson, the United States' third president, the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville is in the heart of an agricultural and industrial area. In the 1800s, the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville was an important center for river transportation. The biggest river steamboat ever built, the Mississippi Queen, was made in the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville. In 2010, almost 45 thousand people lived in the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville.
The Ohio River was precious to the indigenous people of Middle America. The Ohio Valley was home to several regional chiefdoms, with important earthwork mounds, for at least five centuries before Europeans entered the area. The Ohio Valley was inhabited by the Shawnee, Omaha, Osage, Kaw, and Ponca peoples until the Iroquois moved in from the northeast in the 1600s, pushing them west of the Mississippi River to Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas.
By 1786, Fort Finney stood where today's Kennedy Bridge in the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville spans the Ohio. Protecting the area from the native people of the region, the fort encouraged the growth of a settlement. The fort was abandoned in 1793. The remaining settlement became known as Jeffersonville around 1800.
In 1808, the second federal office in Indiana for the sale of land was established in the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville. This attracted more white settlers to the area, and the War of 1812 stimulated further growth. After Clark County was formed, the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville became its county seat.
The first ships were built in the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville in 1819. Steamboats soon became the base of the city's economy. The first steamboat built by James Howard in the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville embarked on the Ohio in 1834. The Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville became more important during the American Civil War, as it was a main gateway to the Old South, being across the Ohio River from Louisville. Three railroads served the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville from the north, and the Ohio River made it an attractive location for managing the Union Army's troops and supplies. The Louisville and Nashville Railroad to the south linked Louisville and the South.
The United States Navy took over the Howard Ship Yards in the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville in 1925, holding it until 1941 after the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville annexed Port Fulton. The Great Depression and the Ohio River Flood of 1937 dealt serious blows to the region, including the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville. However, gambling became big business in the city, bringing economic recovery to the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville.
Casinos, clubs, and a dog track gave the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville the nickname of "Little Las Vegas," but violence turned the public against gambling. In 1948, The State Police raided every casino in the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville, and Judge James Bottorff order the equipment confiscated and the money donated to charity. Remembering these dramatic events, the citizens of the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville refused to approve riverboat gambling in the 1990s.
The Quartermaster Depot in the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonvillethat had served the Union during the Civil War was still in use during World War II. The Howard Ship Yards built Tank Landing Ships (LSTs) for the war effort. The ship yards later became the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville Boat and Machine Company.
At Mount Vernon, prehistoric Miami Nation archaeological sites as old as four thousand years were discovered. But the Mount Vernon port was completed before the formation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 1969 and before more demanding regulations were implemented. Much more extensive prehistoric remains and ruins were found at the site of the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville. The US National Park Service demanded that artifacts be salvaged before the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville could be built. It was 1979 before the US Army Corps of Engineers finally granted permits for construction of the Port of Indiana - Jeffersonville.