History, Preservation, Road Trips

The story of Story, Indiana

There’s a surprising amount to tell about Story, a tiny village in the hilliest country Indiana has to offer. It’s in Brown County, about thirteen miles southeast of Nashville along the meandering State Road 135. The old Elkinsville Road continues straight where SR 135 curves sharply; that’s where you’ll find Story.

Story, Indiana

Story is named for its founder, George Story, a physician from Ohio, who settled here in 1851 after President Millard Fillmore granted him 173 acres. He built his house (below) in about 1858. By the 1870s, Story’s medical practice, a school, and a mill had been built here, and farms surrounded this burgeoning village. Locals came to call it Storyville.

Story, Indiana

Dr. Arnold Griffitt came in 1882 to continue Story’s medical practice, at which time the village was incorporated as Story. During Griffitt’s time the first general store was built here, and a post office was located inside it. From there Story grew to include a second general store, a church, a one-room school, a grain mill, a sawmill, a slaughterhouse, and a blacksmith. Through the 1920s, Story was the most prominent settlement in this part of Brown County.

Farming had always been difficult here thanks to rocky ground, and after the Great Depression began it became largely impossible to make a living on this land. Families began abandoning their farms to find other work. Meanwhile, the State of Indiana began to buy the 16,000 acres surrounding Story that would create Brown County State Park. This outmigration caused Brown County to lose half its population by 1940.

Story tried to soldier on. The general store in particular kept operating, its 1930s-era gasoline pumps with their distinctive Standard Oil glass crowns continuing to dispense fuel. The store limped along until about 1960 when the Army Corps of Engineers built Lake Monroe southeast of Bloomington as a flood-control project. That project cut off Elkinsville Road, the direct route to Bloomington, and through traffic dried up. The store managed somehow to hang on through the mid 1970s before finally giving up.

Story, Indiana

A man named Benjamin and his wife Cynthia bought most of the town in 1978, making their residence on the store’s second floor and transforming the first floor into a restaurant. About 15 years later, Rick Hofstetter bought the whole town and added lodging to the restaurant, using the store’s second floor and most of Story’s remaining buildings.

Story, Indiana

Hofstetter still owns Story and keeps it rustic. Even when the inn is full, it is said that horses outnumber people in Story. They surely appeared to on the day we visited.

Story, Indiana

Today Story is a popular place to stop off Brown County’s beaten path, especially in the autumn. Motorcycle riders seem especially to enjoy Story, as it’s a great place to stop while enjoying SR 135’s curves and hills.

Story, Indiana

Pentax K10D, 28-80mm f/3.5-4.7 SMC Pentax-FA

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Standard

21 thoughts on “The story of Story, Indiana

  1. My sister was married there in 2002. Wonderful place. If I recall, the Story Inn is considered haunted, for those who dig that sort of thing. An excellent history; thank you.

        • FA. It hunts to focus a lot, which is a pet peeve. Optically it looks good. I’m going to try it on one of my film bodies to see how it performs. It has a usable manual focus ring.

        • Did yours cost that much too? I thought you said the other day about being a skinflint for not having more compact digital cameras!

        • I got it at 15% off on sale, but otherwise yes, it cost that. It was an impulse purchase. I’m subject to those once in a while!

        • Just quite surprised Jim, I always had you pegged as a fellow cheapskate like me!

          Haven’t you also talked before about spending a limit of $20 on any camera?

          My Ricoh GRD III could be described as a bit of an impulse purchase, though I did research them first and knew what I wanted.

          Plus it’s I think the third most expensive camera I’ve ever bought (not including phones)… But that’s paid off hugely, absolutely no regrets!

        • Definitely a cheapskate. But every once in a while I treat myself. This was one of those times. I knew two things: if I liked the lens, I would have a very capable DSLR kit, and if I didn’t like this lens I could sell it for about what I paid for it and have lost only a little time and hassle. My soft upper limit on a camera is $50.

        • Ah yes I must admit I have/had a similar theory with lenses. I bought a Zeiss Planar for £95, didn’t much like it and sold it for £115 about a month later!

  2. Thank you for sharing the history of that interesting town. Secluded roads are rare here in Korea and people ignore the yellow line coming around corners so they are quite dangerous as well.
    I’m impressed by the colours of the K10D. Do you use the photos straight out of the camera, or do you fiddle fiddle fiddle in Lightroom or some other program? I can’t be arsed anymore to do anything with photos once they’re transferred to the computer and I figure that if I wasn’t good enough to get the proper exposure at the time of making the photo then I don’t deserve to have it. Also, the lab can deal with my mistakes when printing. :)

    • I do get weary of Photoshopping my photos, so I hear you. I did do some fiddling with these images in Photoshop, though it was minor. If you saw the originals you might wonder why I bothered.

      Ignore the yellow line? Eeep.

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