White County has arguably had its landscape and culture affected by renewable energy sources more than any other Indiana county.
Founded in 1834, the county was named for Isaac White, a colonel in the Illinois militia. White volunteered to serve as a private in the Indiana militia in Gov. William Henry Harrison’s march on Prophetstown. He was killed at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 and was buried in a common grave at what is now Battle Ground.
Travelers driving on Interstate 65 between Indianapolis and Chicago can’t miss their arrival into White County. They’re greeted by 400-foot-tall wind turbines from the Meadow Lake Wind Farm which covers areas of White, Jasper and Benton counties. The farm was developed in multiple phases beginning in 2009.
In 2018, an addition to the farm began providing power to Indiana’s electric cooperatives through their two cooperative power suppliers, Wabash Valley Power Alliance and Hoosier Energy. It was the first mix of large-scale wind power generated in Indiana that was used by electric cooperative consumers.
Tippecanoe and hydropower, too
Just north and south of Monticello, two early hydroelectric dams were built on the Tippecanoe River as it winds its way south to the Wabash River. Along with generating electricity, the dams, one of which celebrates its 100th birthday this month, created the “Twin Lakes.”
The northernmost, Norway Dam, completed in June 1923, created Lake Shafer. Oakdale Dam was built in 1925 to create Lake Freeman. These two meandering lakes established White County as a major tourism destination. Owned and operated by NIPSCO, the dams still produce electricity for the grid.
Indiana Beach is an amusement park located on Lake Shafer. It offers over 50 rides and attractions including roller coasters and a water park. Convenient cabins, a campground and hotel rooms are also available.
Originally named Ideal Beach, the amusement park first opened in 1927 on the shore of Lake Shafer, not long after the lake’s creation.
Named For: Isaac White
County seat: Monticello
Indiana county number: 91