Southern Indiana Living

JUL-AUG 2017

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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July/August 2017 • 13 M arengo's old-timers like to re- member those hot July days in the 1940s when Marengo Cave guide Bill Clifton led them down into the cave, its rock forma- tions breathtakingly beautiful in the re- flection of his oil lantern. The 52-degree temperature was a welcome relief in the days before air conditioning. Marengo Cave has long been the town's crown jewel. Discovered in 1883 by a couple of schoolchildren, the cave was designated a U.S. National Landmark in 1984. Thousands visit annually, and tours are conducted year round. Now, the magnificent formations are well-lighted, electrically. There is a gift shop, camping and picnic grounds, gemstone mining, zip line and other activities. Steve Calhoun, the new owner of the cave, is only the fourth since its discovery. Calhoun, of English, held numerous posi- tions there under previous owner Gordon Smith, and he plans to enhance the facil- ity and engage local communities in spe- cial events such as the annual Founder's Day celebration on Sept. 6 and Caroling in the Cave on Dec. 10. But the cave is not all Marengo has to offer. Where else can one find not only a nationally recognized cave but a coĴon candy factory and an underground ware- house with 23 million pounds of frozen fruit? The coĴon candy factory — Maren- go Candy Barn — is owned by Bill Burch and located in the original Fancher's Hardware building. The light-as-air con- fection called "Sweet Fortune" is made, packaged and distributed to numerous businesses throughout Southern Indiana and beyond. The Marengo Warehouse and Dis- tribution Center is owned and operated by Brian Venturi and his wife, Miĵie. The warehouse, which has about 75 em- ployees, sits in a former limestone quarry that provided employment for a number of years before the economy shifted and larger quarries controlled much of the business. That's when Brian Venturi's father, Robert Venturi, came up with a plan to shift to storage. Besides its exten- sive frozen fruit inventory, the warehouse stores numerous other items including MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). A Promising Future Marengo residents value its his- tory and embrace its future. Town board member Michael Haverstock says Maren- go's biggest asset is the way people come together to work on projects. "We have people working on grants and looking at other financing to restore the historic Big Springs Church, built in 1858, four years after it was established," Haverstock said, adding that others are looking at new development. "Brian Ven- turi is exploring ideas to utilize some of his acreage to offer something to the pub- lic." Eric Faith also believes Marengo has a promising future. "Marengo is in a good location with a major intersection," said Faith, owner of Data By Design near the four-way stop on State Road 64. "A lot of people come through the town." Faith opened his shop about three years ago and is seeing a growing clien- tele. "I had been interested in starting a business and saw increased technology needs," he said. "People were driving long distances to have their computers worked on." Also surrounding the intersection are two gas station/convenience stores; Marengo Tractor Supply; several hair salons and barbershops; Beagle's Pizze- ria and Papenos Pizza; a Dollar General Store; Van's Restaurant; Oasis Package Store; Bucks Grocery and Produce; Taylor Associates real estate, insurance and ac- counting services; Mills Law Office; two banks; and Crawford County Middle School. History Marengo was seĴled in the late 1700s with a few homes and a store in what is known as "the old town," likely because its springs provided ample wa- ter. The town was plaĴed in 1839 under the name "Big Springs." It was once called "Tuckersville," then "Proctorsville" when William Proctor was appointed postmas- ter in 1835. The name was changed to "Marengo" on July 18, 1952, with John Wood as its first postmaster, according to H.O. Jones' book "A Twentieth Century History of Crawford County, Indiana." Marengo Cave has long been the town's crown jewel. Discovered in 1883 by a couple of school children, the cave was designated a U. S. National Landmark in 1984. Story by Sara Combs Photos (except where noted) by Michelle Hockman e historic Big Springs Church, built in Old Town Marengo in 1858..

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