Lanthier Gardens on the Winery grounds

The Lanthier Winery and Distillery in Madison, Indiana is known not only for its award winning wines and distillery products but also for the magnificent gardens that surround the classic brick building . We visited this facility on Mother’s Day and walked the gardens. Our pervious visit was early in the season, and the weather was not conducive to an enjoyable stroll in the garden.






The gardens are known nation wide not only for the extraordinary variety of gorgeous flowers and vegetation, but also for a remarkable display of various art work in the form of paintings, sculpture and metalworks found throughout the grounds. There are so many unique creations in these gardens that you need to really keep your eyes open or you may miss something! The gardens are open seven days a week from sun up to sun down. There is never an admission charge.

Blues at the Indianapolis Jazz Kitchen

Sher and I had a most enjoyable time last night at a small music and dining venue in Indianapolis. The Jazz Kitchen is noted for providing an intimate and cozy space for drinks, dining and being up close to the evening’s entertainers. We shared the evening with Sher’s best friend from High School and her husband. Fun conversation sharing travel experiences and activities were had by all during dinner.

The live music was played by a duo of Blues performers supported by drums and bass guitar. The artists were Gordan Bonham and Paul Holdman. Bonham is well known in the Blues community, and Holdman brings an eclectic flair to his guitar work.

The first video gives you a flavor of the quality and energy of these artists and Bonham’s vocals. The second video highlights the marvelous guitar work of Holdman. Enjoy!

We had a marvelous time at the Jazz Kitchen! You can’t beat  this kind of evening: good food, marvelous entertainment and of course a close and warm time shared with old friends. Doesn’t ever get much better than that…

Indiana Grand Racing and Casino is now Horseshoe Indianapolis

Casino loyalty program

Back in March of 2009 “Indiana Live” casino opened near Shelbyville, Indiana, about 30 miles southeast of Indianapolis. The pari-mutuel race track had opened in April of 2003. Over the years the facility had a few different owners, a couple of names and many improvements. Recently the latest name change came into play: Horseshoe Indianapolis is the new name for this Caesars Entertainment Inc. casino.

New name posted

The racetrack is going through some massive changes, renovations and additions. There is a new 50 room dorm for the backstretch workers. There is also a 105 stall winterized barn that will open soon. The casino itself is going through some massive additions, including new carpet and lighting throughout, 25,000 new square feet of gaming floor with 225 new slots and 10 new table games. In addition there is now a new World Series of Poker game room in use.

Hopefully the casino will soon reopen its eating facilities. They had a great buffet, a casual restaurant and a high end steakhouse, none of these have reopened. The only food available now is at what they call a “Sidewalk Cafe”, serving a limited menu. Racing does start again in April.


Greek Revival Lanier Mansion finished in 1844

Madison, Indiana is known for it many historic buildings, including some of the best examples of Greek Revival architecture preserved in the country. The Lanier Mansion was the home of James Franklin Doughty Lanier, a banker, railroad developer and Clerk of the Indiana General Assembly. The south face of the home faces the Ohio River, and is considered the “front door” to the mansion.

The Ohio River is behind the camera

Spiral staircase in the mansion. Photo courtesy Ind. State Museum

From an Indiana State Museum website: Francis Costigan designed the mansion with many Greek Revival features. These include its square plan, the full façade porch on the south elevation, the Corinthian columns on the south portico, the Doric pilasters that appear on several locations on the exterior, the massive exterior entablature and dentilated cornice, the ornamental anthemia, the ornamental pediments over the windows and doors, and the Ionic columns that separate the double parlors on the first floor.

West side of the mansion, Ohio River to the right

The Lanier Mansion was designed by renowned architect Frank Costigan, with the project completed in 1844. It is now part of the Indiana State Museum system as an official Historic Site. It has been referred to as the Crown Jewel of the Madison Historic District, and provides insight into the life and times of the 1840’s Indiana along the Ohio River.


Jefferson Proving Grounds use today

In 1940 the US War Department designated 56,000 acres in southern Indiana as a future munitions testing area. In May of 1941 the first round of ammunition was fired from the firing line. Thus began the long history of the Jefferson Proving Grounds (JPG).

View from US Highway 421

Driving on US Highway 421 (the old Michigan Road) north of Madison, Indiana you’ll see on the west side of the road a long barbed wire topped tall chain link fence set back from the road. It runs for 17 miles. Inside the fence there will be another road, and US Govt. No trespassing signs evenly spaced on the fence. This is the old JPG site.

The JPG closed in 1995, but is still utilized by different entities. Part of the acreage is now the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge. Over 1000 acres is still used as a munitions training area for Indiana National Guard Aviation wings. A local railroad museum has a collection of rail stock on an old rail line within the site. Some areas are open for camping and seasonal permit hunting.

Signage on US 421

Boarded up original gate house







The following is from a Site Status Summary from this USNRC website: “JPG was established in 1940 for the purpose of production and specification testing of all types of ammunition, projectiles, propellants, cartridge cases, primers, fuses, boosters, bombs, and grenades. From 1941-1995, over 24 million rounds of conventional explosive ammunition were fired.” To this day there are areas within the old firing range that still contain millions of rounds of unexploded ordinance making those areas extremely dangerous.

Indiana’s First Volunteer Fire Department

Madison, Indiana was founded in 1809 on the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Louisville. The entire downtown has been designated part of a National Historic District. One part of this town’s fascinating history is the story of the Fair-Play Fire Co. Firehouse.

From a National Park Service article: “The Union Volunteer Fire Company organized in 1830 to help protect Madison’s citizens from fire, a very serious threat to 19th century communities. Several years later, the City of Madison voted to fund a paid municipal fire department, but within ten months the service was cancelled and the responsibility again rested on volunteer forces. In 1841, about 100 men, who originally were members of the Union Volunteer Fire Company, organized the Fair Play Fire Company No. 1, which is now the oldest volunteer company in Indiana.”







This is one of several active Volunteer Fire Departments protecting Madison, Indiana. Fair-Play Fire Company first saw action as a bucket brigade. They bought a hand drawn piece of equipment in 1851, and it is still owned by the department.  The tall tower on the firehouse was built to hang hoses to dry. Go to the NPS article, link above, for more details about the history of this fire company.

Another Indiana Bison-Tennial statue

Indiana’s Bicentennial was celebrated in 2016. As part of the celebration, fiberglass statues of bison were made available to each of Indiana’s counties. Local artists decorated them with themes and scenes of the local area and features. We have seen several of these during our travels around the state.















We discovered this one in Osgood, Indiana, in south central Indiana. Named Ozzy, this bison was decorated/painted by Nancie Scott Davis. The bison Ozzy stands proudly on a gravel path with a beautiful mural on the wall of the adjacent building.

Treat yourself to the best

This barn’s Mail Pouch paint job is fading fast.

A Mail Pouch Barn is a barn with one or more sides painted with the slogan:





Starting in 1890 the Bloch Brothers Tobacco Company of Wheeling West Virginia began offering farmers a bit of cash and a years supply of their Mail Pouch chewing tobacco in exchange for painting at least one side of their barn with their slogan. Even without the cash or product, a free coat of paint helps keep your barn siding protected, and this deal would look inviting.

The advertising campaign continued until the mid 1990’s. Over 20,000 barns in 22 Midwest and Southeastern states were painted during that 100+ year run. If you have any of these in your area or when you spot one while traveling, take a look. They won’t be around forever, and are an interesting slice of American rural history.