What’s in a Name: Tell City, Indiana

By Karen Weik 

The William Tell Overture conjures images of chase scenes in old Westerns, featuring its rhythmic dalunt-dalunt-dalunt-dunt-dunt cadence, but who knew this iconic music, and its namesake, had ties to Southern Indiana?

Along the banks of the Ohio River, deep in the southern-most part of the Hoosier National Forest is Tell City, named for Swiss folk hero, William Tell.

In the late 1850s, the Swiss Colonization Society, a group of people who immigrated to Cincinnati, from Northern Switzerland, purchased land in Southern Indiana, on the Ohio River. Planning for the city was very deliberate, with straight, wide streets and a place where all would be welcome and equal. They wanted it to have an American sounding name, so chose that of the legendary Swiss hero. Folklore has it that William Tell lived 700 years ago when the Swiss were rebelling against Austrian rulers. Tell was considered a Robin Hood type figure, refusing to bow to noblemen. His punishment for it was to shoot an arrow through an apple, perched on his son’s head. An excellent marksman, he did so safely and valiantly. The Swiss proclaimed him a hero in the fight against injustice and to live in equality. Today, a statue of William Tell and his son can be seen in the town square in Altdorf, Switzerland.

A replica of the statue sits in the city park of Tell City, Indiana. No other town in the United States, or world, is named Tell City.

Visitors today find Tell City a charming example of Swiss pride. Situated in Perry County, amidst the beauty of the Hoosier National Forest, it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts with hunting, fishing, zip- lining, mountain biking, horseback riding and year-round hiking trails. Blue Heron Winery beckons with spectacular scenery along the Ohio River, and the award- winning Winzerwald Winery showcases the owner’s German roots with vines brought to the area by their ancestors in the 1800s. Five noteworthy antique shops are featured in the Indiana Antique Trail, and the Tell City Pretzel company has been making its hand-twisted recipe the same way since 1858. Other foodie favorites include The Post Restaurant, a former post office recreated into a fine dining establishment, the Pour House and Tell City Brewing company. And don’t miss the mouth- watering homemade pies at Brown’s Bittersweet Farms. They are to die for.

A highlight for travelers to the area is the festivals. A local favorite celebrates pioneer life in Southern Indiana. The Shubael Little Pioneer Village was founded in the year 2000, on 35 acres of land donated and named after Shubael Little, the first landowner in the local area. The village recreates settlement life as it was in the mid-1800s. Two main events take place each year—the festival and two-day open house, held the third week in October, and a Candlelight Tour the second Saturday in December.

Perry County and Tell City can be found just south of I-64, on SR37, bordering Kentucky, on the Ohio River. easy to find and hard to leave, Tell City is truly an Indiana gem to shout about. www.pickperry.com