The Bowling Green Old Settlers are trying to raise funds to replace the deteriorated "welcome" sign that has been standing since 1979. The very first sign was built in 1933 and stood until it was replaced by the current sign.
Bowling Green may be a small town, but the "welcome" sign is quite large.
The town was established around 1818 and was the county seat of Clay County for more than 50 years in the 1800s.
On their way into town, visitors can read all about the small town's history on a large sign from S.R. 46. But that sign is in a state of disrepair: It could use new coat of paint, a sturdier frame and a protective layer to prevent weathering of new paint.
The Bowling Green Old Settlers and the Bowling Green community are trying to raise the money needed to build and paint a replacement for the current sign, which has been standing for more than 35 years.
Bowling Green Old Settlers Treasurer Denise Bridgewater said, "We hope to get the sign restored, because it has been a well-known landmark. The sign means a lot to people who have grown up around here."
The very first sign was put in place in 1933. It was replaced in 1979 by the current 32'-by-16' sign that includes historical information about the town and states, "Welcome to Bowling Green.
"You are now entering Bowling Green, the oldest town in Clay Co., est. about 1818 as the first trading post between Spencer and Terre Haute.
"David Thomas, first white man to enter this territory in 1812, purchased with corn as barter the bottom land from the Eel River Tribe of Pottawatome Indians, whose village sat on the knoll 1,000 ft. southwest of this site. He blazed the first wagon trail from here to Terre Haute in 1817 and in 1820 built the first ferry across Eel River.
"The first white child was born here in 1820 and the first school was established.
"This town was the first county seat from 1826 to 1877 at which time it was moved to Brazil. Now a city of many industries and is known as 'the clay center of the world.'
"The county's area is 360 sq. miles and is situated in the heart of Indiana's famous Indian Hunting Grounds.
"A few names of the county's earliest settlers were: Risley, Rawley, Briley, Mayfield, Cooprider, Cromwell, Wheeler, Maxwell, Christie, Luther, Hudson, Peyton, Walker, Moss, Stewart, White and Chance.
"To the hundreds of pioneer families who carved Clay County's history this memorial is respectfully dedicated."
Sue Lightfoot, a Clay County native and 50-year resident of Bowling Green, said, "We hope (the new sign) will be a lot like the original sign was."
According to Bridgewater, the cost of building a new frame has been estimated at $7,500, but materials could be purchased and labor could be donated, lowering the cost to $3,000. Custom painting of the sign on aluminum backed wood has been estimated at around $4,500.
Bridgewater mentioned that the Old Settlers would also like to have a poster-size replica made and put on display in the courtyard area of Bowling Green's square.
"We welcome help, financially or in the form of labor, to restore (the sign)," Bridgewater said.
To make a monetary donation, make check payable to the Bowling Green Old Settlers, and mail to: Bowling Green Old Settlers, 5230 E. Washington St., P.O. Box 64, Bowling Green, IN 47833.