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Salem, Indiana

City of Salem
Washington County Courthouse, in the town square
Washington County Courthouse, in the town square
Location in the state of Indiana
Location in the state of Indiana
Country United States
State Indiana
County Washington
Township Washington
Town founded 1814
 • Mayor David L. Bower (D)
 • Total 4.02 sq mi (10.41 km2)
 • Land 4.00 sq mi (10.36 km2)
 • Water 0.02 sq mi (0.05 km2)  0.50%
Elevation 751 ft (229 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 6,319
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 6,236
 • Density 1,579.8/sq mi (610.0/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP Code 47167
Area code(s) 812
FIPS code 18-67464[4]
GNIS feature ID 0442876[5]

Salem is a city in Washington Township, Washington County, Indiana, United States. Salem serves as the county seat.[6] The population was 6,319 at the 2010 census.[7]


  • History 1
    • Morgan's Raid 1.1
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
  • Demographics 3
    • 2010 census 3.1
  • Arts and culture 4
    • Annual cultural events 4.1
    • Museums and other points of interest 4.2
  • Sports 5
  • Parks and recreation 6
  • Government 7
  • Notable people 8
  • 1988 Bomb Scare 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12


Salem was laid out and platted in 1814.[8] It was named for Salem, North Carolina, the hometown of one of the city founders.[9]

Morgan's Raid

In June 1863, the

"They did not pillage with any sort of method or reason; it seemed to be a mania, senseless and purposeless. One man carried for two days a bird cage containing three canaries. Another rode with a huge chafing dish on the pommel of his saddle. Although the weather was intensely warm, another slung seven pairs of skates around his neck. I saw very few articles of real value taken; they pillaged like boys robbing an orchard."


Salem is primarily an agricultural community, surrounded by typical Indiana forests and farmland and small bodies of water. The primary crops grown in the area are corn and soybeans. Homes in the area are of a variety of styles, with a portion of residential homes having Victorian architectural design.

According to the 2010 census, Salem has a total area of 4.018 square miles (10.41 km2), of which 4 square miles (10.36 km2) (or 99.55%) is land and 0.018 square miles (0.05 km2) (or 0.45%) is water.[1]


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Salem has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[10]


As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $29,256, and the median income for a family was $37,179. Males had a median income of $27,521 versus $21,952 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,299. About 8.5% of families and 11.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.6% of those under age 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 6,319 people, 2,622 households, and 1,599 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,579.8 inhabitants per square mile (610.0/km2). There were 2,932 housing units at an average density of 733.0 per square mile (283.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.5% White, 0.4% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 0.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.0% of the population.

There were 2,622 households of which 32.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.2% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.0% were non-families. 33.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.91.

The median age in the city was 38.3 years. 24% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.6% were from 25 to 44; 24.2% were from 45 to 64; and 17.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.5% male and 53.5% female.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

Every September, Salem celebrates "Old Settler's Day" at the John Hay Center. Set in a village of authentic log structures, the festival features historical re-enactments, as well as local arts and crafts.

Museums and other points of interest

The downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places, as are several local buildings.

The Carnegie Library in Salem was one of nearly 2,000 libraries built in the United States including 164 in Indiana in the early 20th century with funds donated by steel conglomerate Andrew Carnegie. Salem received the grant in February 1904, broke ground in August 1904 and opened in July 1905. Still in use today, the Carnegie Library in Salem is one of just one hundred in the state of Indiana still being used for its original purpose.

Located in the center of Salem's town square, the Washington County Courthouse is generally known as Salem's most famous and recognizable landmark. The courthouse has historical place markers surrounding it, and at the southeastern corner of the grounds, there is a memorial to veterans killed in action during conflicts dating back to the Revolutionary War.

The birthplace of John Hay has been a National Historic Site since 1971 and is located in Salem. The building was originally used as a school house and was built in 1824. It has been restored and furnished in the 1840 period.[13]


Salem is also home to the legendary Salem Speedway. It is a half mile high banked paved oval that was first built in 1947. Many of the most legendary drivers of the past 50 years have raced there including Ted Horn, Parnelli Jones, AJ Foyt, Bobby and Al Unser, Mario Andretti, Larry Dickson, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Gordon. AJ Foyt at one time held the world record for a half mile oval at the speedway. One of ESPN's first televised auto racing events was held there in 1979.

Parks and recreation

Riley's Place

Unusual for a town of this size is a large children's playground, "Riley's Place" at DePauw Park. Named after Riley Jean Tomlinson, a local toddler who accidentally drowned in a swimming pool, the park was built in 2001 and contains two- and three- story wooden castles and other structures for children's play (along with swings, slides, and similar playground equipment).


Notable people

John Hay, private secretary to President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State to Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, was born in Salem[13] and is generally known as Salem's most prominent citizen. A variety of museums and local buildings make reference to Mr. Hay's connections to the town.

Everett Dean, prominent citizen of Washington County, helped create the John Hay Center.[14] Dean was an all-star basketball player at Indiana University. He went on to become the IU basketball coach from 1924-1938. He also coached baseball and basketball at Stanford University. His basketball team won the 1942 National Championship. His baseball team went to the 1953 college baseball world series.

Washington C. DePauw, successful businessman whom DePauw University is named after. DePauw donated a large portion of his wealth shortly before his death to the now defunct Indiana Asbury University who renamed their school in his honor in January 1884. DePauw was born in Salem.[15]

John Pickler, member of the United States House of Representatives; born in Salem.[16]

1988 Bomb Scare

On July 5, 1988, Salem garnered national attention when 13 homemade bombs placed inside brown grocery bags were discovered near bridges and buildings around the town containing 278 sticks of dynamite. However, due to faulty blasting caps, none of the bombs exploded. Had the explosives gone off, it would have severed the town from outside aid. Two men, John M. Hubbard and Jerry A. Conrad were convicted on all counts in the fall of 1989. Prosecutors allege that Mr. Hubbard had a long-standing rivalry with Democratic State Representative Frank Newkirk Jr. whose father Frank Newkirk Sr. was mayor of Salem at the time. Salem's radio station, WSLM, broke the story across several wire services that day and reported live on various radio and TV networks.[17]


  1. ^ a b "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1".  
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  3. ^ "Population Estimates".  
  4. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ "Salem City, Indiana". US Census Bureau Quick Facts. Retrieved 15 July 2012. 
  8. ^ History of Lawrence, Orange, and Washington Counties, Indiana: From the Earliest Time to the Present. Higginson Book Company. 1884. p. 759. 
  9. ^ Stevens, Warder William and Davis, Lulie (1916). Centennial History of Washington County, Indiana: Its People, Industries and Institutions. McDowell Publications. p. 607. 
  10. ^ Climate Summary for Salem, Indiana
  11. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "Birthplace – John Milton Hay". The John Hay Center. Retrieved October 4, 2012. 
  14. ^ "The John Hay Center". The John Hay Center. Retrieved October 4, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Washington C. DePauw". DePauw University. Retrieved October 4, 2012. 
  16. ^ "PICKLER, John Alfred, (1844 - 1910)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 4, 2012. 
  17. ^ W. A. WERONKA Jr., Special to the New York Times

Further reading

  • Indiana Historical Commission. Archaeological and Historical Survey of Washington County (August 1924). Wm. B. Burford

External links

  • City website
  • Record snowfalls
  • The John Hay Center

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