Clarksville is a town in Clark County, Indiana, United States, along the Ohio River and is a part of the Louisville Metropolitan area. The population was 21,724 at the 2010 census. The town, once a home site to George Rogers Clark, was founded in 1783 and is the oldest American town in the Northwest Territory. The town is home to the Colgate clock, one of the largest clocks in the world and the Falls of the Ohio State Park, a large fossil bed.
Clarksville is named for American Revolutionary War General George Rogers Clark, who lived for a time on a point of land on the Ohio River. Founded in 1783, the town is believed to be the first American settlement in the Northwest Territory of the new United States.
The site was first used as a base of operations by Clark during the American Revolution. In 1778 he established a post on an island at the head of the Falls of the Ohio, from which he trained his 175-man regiment for the defense to the west. After the war, Clark was granted a tract of for his services in the war. In 1783, were set aside for the development of a town, Clarksville. The same year a stockade was built and settlement began.
Due to the many floods in the nineteenth century and the Indiana Canal Company's failed competition to build a canal around the Ohio Falls, the town struggled. On August 24, 1805 the Indiana Territorial Legislature authorized the construction of a canal around the Falls of the Ohio at Clarksville. The first attempt failed and the investors lost their money. Historians believe it was used to finance the conspiracy of Aaron Burr. Developers tried to build a canal in 1817 and again in 1820. But the race to build the canal was lost in 1826 when the federal government made a large grant to build the Louisville and Portland Canal. The lack of a canal handicapped the growth of the town as the Falls of the Ohio made river transport from the city difficult.
Clarksville became a popular dueling spot for Kentuckians who wanted to dodge their home state's anti-dueling laws. The most famous of these was the 1809 duel between Henry Clay and Humphrey Marshall. There was an attempt to build a second town within Clarksville's boundaries, named Ohio Falls City, until the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that this would be illegal.
The Great Flood of 1937 decimated the town. The entire town was submerged beneath as much as of water in some areas for over three weeks during January and February. With almost all of the old town destroyed, Clarksville was rebuilt with a new modern city plan.
The post-World War II housing boom and new jobs brought growth to the city. The population has increased from 2,400 in 1940 to 22,000 in 2000. The city has expanded to the north by annexing several sizable suburbs. By 1981 the State of Indiana changed statutes to convert the managing board of trustees to a council with members rather than trustees. In 1990 voters approved expansion of members of the Town Council from five to seven following the area growth.