Enter through a 1906 covered bridge and escape to a whole new world at Billie Creek Village in Rockville, Indiana. Parke County is home to more than 41 historic covered bridges, and this living history museum was established to preserve and display the covered bridge heritage in the area. As guests drive through a century old covered bridge, Saint Joseph Catholic Church, a pre-1900 post-office, a 1913 school house and an 1830s cabin are the first buildings to explore.
The annual Covered Bridge Festival originated around the same time Billie Creek Village was established, in 1969. Efforts were increasing in Rockville, Indiana to draw more visitors to the covered bridges. At one time it was nearly impossible to locate all the beautiful covered bridges of Park County. It was brought to the town’s attention in 1956, when a letter to the editor was published in the Rockville Republican newspaper. One year after the letter from county native Leila Sanders was published, the Covered Bridge Festival and Billie Creek Village began.
Today more than 9,000 school children visit Billie Creek Village each year, including countless Indianapolis kids. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come through the area each fall. Dozens of events attract more visitors throughout the year. One of the most popular annual events at Billie Creek Village is Civil War Days. Each June, Hoosiers flock to the village to see the largest battle reenactment in the state. People from all over the U.S. come to participate and in 2001 there were more than 1,800 reenactors from 41 different states. To wrap up this special two day event, a debate between Abraham Lincoln and Steven A. Douglas is recreated outside the Governor’s House in the village. The evening is filled with education family fun, music and dancing. Billie Creek Village also conducts a WWII reenactment in late June that features living history displays, skits and military vehicle displays. Other popular events at Billie Creek Village are School Days in spring, Sorghum and Cider Days in fall and Billie Creek Village Christmas and Maple Fair in winter.
Winter is a very special time of year in Parke County. Typically the last week in February, after the season’s final freeze, is when the sap flows from Maple trees. Billie Creek Village hosts a Maple Syrup Camp that produces tons of sticky-delicious syrup. The camp is considered to be very primitive because there is no electricity or modern energy sources available, they do it the old fashioned way. The syrup made during the Maple Syrup Camp is sold at the site’s General Store and used to top ice cream sundaes in the summer months.
The sites are endless at this Indiana attraction. The village has a church, post-office, farmstead, cabin, bank, doctor’s office and more. The creek running through the area is actually Williams Creek, though everyone calls it Billie Creek anyway. Craft lovers enjoy the festivities at the village too. Potters, quilters, candle makers, blacksmiths and musicians demonstrate their respective trades for visitors to admire.
Horses, goats and sheep that graze on the farmstead at Billie Creek live in a different time, among many early twentieth century buildings. The farmstead features a petting pen, orchard, poultry yard, corncrib, log barn, springhouse, lye soap shed and an outhouse. The farmstead portion of the village was made possible by an $82,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment, based out of Indianapolis.
Billie Creek Village is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year, and it’s the ideal summer day trip from Indianapolis. It’s an hour and a half west of the Circle City and general admission is only $5 each. Escape from Indy for a day and bring some friends on this fascinating and family friendly journey through Indiana history.
Billie Creek Village
1659 East US Highway 36
Rockville, Indiana 47872