- Associated Press - Saturday, November 7, 2015

SOLSBERRY, Ind. (AP) - Eastern Greene County may not be a tourist mecca, but it’s becoming a destination.

People have begun to discover the eclectic attractions of the area - from a century-old train trestle to an outdoor sculpture museum - scattered amid gently rolling hills and winding country roads. There is a bonus in the fall, when a drive along Indiana 43 through Greene and Owen counties reveals spectacular views that rival those in tourist-clogged Brown County.

There’s the Tulip Trestle, also known as the Greene County Viaduct, a half-mile-long elevated train trestle that is the third-longest bridge of its kind in the world. Locals recently built a landscaped concrete viewing deck for visitors, which was officially dedicated recently. And there’s the refurbished Yoho General Store, first opened in 1904 by brothers Frank, Oscar and William Yoho, which retains the charm of its early days. A nearby garage has been converted into a community building to host local events.

The Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum features a walking trail highlighted by more than 80 metal masterpieces, most created and fired by metal artists on site. “Where the beauty of art and nature collide” is the unique museum’s motto.

Steve and Brenda Custis are opening an antique store, called Beech Creek Place, in a small, black-shuttered house they have remodeled less than a quarter mile from the general store.

The grand opening was planned in conjunction with an annual Solsberry event at what people call the Old Tobacco Barn, adjacent to the Sculpture Trails, where local craftsmen and women sell their wares, including honey, wood crafts and homemade soap.

And while there are not many businesses in town, there is Ellie Mae’s Boutique, a beauty salon Natalie Watkins has operated since 2009.

“I have hair clients that come from Ellettsville and Bloomington, and a couple that drive down from Indianapolis,” she said. “Looking around Solsberry, things are starting to come back.”

The days of Solsberry as a bustling little town, back when Cotton and Pearl Yoho ran the store and farmers gathered around the coal-burning stove early in a morning, are long gone. But residents are working to bring the crossroads on Indiana 43 back to life.

“It is starting to come back up; we just need a few more things to bring people around,” Watkins said this week. “We are trying to become a tourist destination out here. And we are noticing more and more people coming through.”

The town’s resurgence started in 2013 after Cook Group’s CFC Properties swooped in, bought the country store and renovated it from basement to attic. During the Fourth of July weekend and the fire department’s fireworks show that first year it reopened, the store served 1,310 ice cream cones, scooping out 434 gallons of ice cream.

Customers waited for space at one of the store’s 10 dining tables to sit down for lunch, maybe ordering a bacon-stacked BLT or fried tenderloin with crinkle-cut fries on the side.

Many of those families return in December, when the Indiana Rail Road’s Santa Train stops on the tracks near the store so kids can visit Santa and Mrs. Claus. Yoho manager Renee Jones said the store serves coffee and hot chocolate to those waiting in line. It’s a big event that introduces out-of-towners to small-town ways.

A recent Tuesday was slow at Yoho’s, with just a few tables occupied for lunch. Jeff Taylor from Iron Pit car restoration noticed that the tan-and-white hound that hangs out at the store had sneaked in and was eyeing a display of homemade peanut brittle. So Taylor tore a piece of meat from his tenderloin sandwich and lured the dog out the front door.

Everyone is used to seeing the dog around. One regular customer, just about every morning, lifts the dog into his truck and takes him for a ride. Jones said a stream of steady customers keeps Yoho’s busy enough, even when the tourist season fades.

“We have a lot of the workers in the area that come in for breakfast or lunch, and we’ve noticed a lot more motorcycle groups driving out this way,” Jones said. “The last time, there were 200 or so of them. I told them how to get down to the viaduct. They hadn’t heard of it, and it’s just five miles or so.”

Tourists seeking sites off the beaten path end up in Solsberry.

“On Friday, I got a call from a man in Kentucky who was coming to see the viaduct and wanted to make sure the store would be open when they got here,” she said. “I told them to come on, that we’d be here.”


Source: The (Bloomington) Herald-Times, https://bit.ly/1kqigku


Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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