A Brief History of Charlestown

The City of Charlestown is located within the original Clark’s Grant, a portion of the Northwest Territory awarded to General George Rogers Clark and his men for their valor and success in capturing English forts and encouraging French and Indian support against the British in the Revolutionary War.

In 1800 the Northwest Territory was divided and Clark’s Grant became a part of the Indiana Territory. When Indiana’s Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison determined to bring slavery into the Territory, an historic meeting of opposition was held in Springville. Established in 1798, Springville was the immediate predecessor of Charlestown, which was surveyed and platted on a ninety acre plot of ground comprised of 149 lots in 1808. The city was named for one of the surveyors, Mr. Charles Beggs.

Charlestown was the home of Indiana’s first governor, Jonathan Jennings. Jennings (b.1784 – d.1834) was elected as a member of the Popular Party, standing behind the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which prohibited the introduction of slavery into Indiana.

In 1940, Charlestown was selected as the location for the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant which produced smokeless powder for use in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. With he fall of the Iron Curtain and the reduction of global tensions, the plant has become the site of a rapidly developing industrial park, joining the Charlestown Industrial Park in serving industry of the region.

In 1998, the U.S. Government, by act of Congress, authorized the conveyance of the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant to 1). the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for an enlargement of the Charlestown State Park and 2). the Clark County Reuse Authority for industrial development. It is now called River Ridge Commerce Center, where rapid growth has confirmed it as a premier industrial location in the US.  For information, call 812-285-8979.