About 350 million years ago, a shallow inland lake covered most of southern Indiana. Over time, sediment created layers of soft rock, eventually lifted by tectonic forces and eroded by flowing waters to fashion hills and valleys. Glaciers stopped just north of what is now Brown County, leaving it probably the most picturesque county in Indiana, with deep ravines and tree-covered hills.
In 1836, European settlers founded the town of Jacksonburg as the Brown County seat. With a population of 270, the town was incorporated as Nashville in 1872. Artists from across the U.S. began coming to the area after nationally acclaimed impressionist painter T. C. Steele made his home on a remote hilltop south of Nashville in 1907. In 1929, Brown County State Park opened near Nashville.
Today, Brown County State Park’s 16,000 acres and miles of trails attract about 1.3 million visitors each year, many coming in the fall when the colors are the most spectacular and entering through a covered wooden bridge. Nearby Nashville, with a population of about 1,000, features more than 100 shops and tourist attractions. The Brown County Courthouse, built in the 1870s, is a nationally registered historic landmark, as is the F. P. Taggart Department Store Building, now housing the Hob Nob Corner Restaurant, a favorite of locals. The Brown County Music Center, southeast of town along Salt Creek, opened Aug. 24, 2019, with a soldout performance by Vince Gill. The county built the 2,000-seat facility at a cost of $12.5 million to replace the famous Nashville Opry, destroyed by fire in 2009, that once attracted country music lovers from across the U.S. Willie Nelson is scheduled to appear at the center on April 25, 2022, as a part of his farewell tour, with a handful of remaining tickets going for more than $500 each.