Established in 1880
In 1880 the federal census listed Roachdale as a town of 86 people. In a span of 2 years the town rapidly grew, undoubtedly due to the newly completed Indianapolis, Decator & Springfield railroad which crossed the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago railroad on the northwest side of town.
The town was originally named Langsdale but was changed in honor of Judge Addison Locke Roach who was a railroad executive for the Indianapolis, Deactor & Springfield Railroad (later Baltimore and Ohio). Roachdale was a bustling town in the late 1800s and early 1900s and supported over sixty commercial operations with strong competition among several lines of business that included groceries, meat packing houses, druggists, dry goods and general stores, tailers, barbers. Transportation was supported by buggy dealers, livery shops, blacksmiths and trains. The saw mills, lumber and brick mills supported new construction. Tourists and residents alike frequented saloons, casinos, opera house and hotels. Being a railroad stop-over for traveling passengers, the entertainment business thrived!
Downtown fires wrecked havoc in the late 1800s. But the merchants were resilient and rebuilt with brick finally sustaining the downtown stores.
started in the second story of a downtown building. Soon a school board was formed and in 1898, a brick building was built for nearly $6000. The school continued to expand for decades until a new building was built south of town for a cost of $450,000.
Lost on the Titantic!
In early 1912 a prominent resident of Roachdale took a trip to Europe in hope of healing his ailments. As such, it turned out to be an ill-fated journey.
John Bertram Crafton was born in Kentucky in 1853 and later moved to Bloomington Indiana where he began his career as a telegraph operator at the Monon Railroad station. After promotions at the Monon and successful investments he moved his family to Roachdale. There he built a beautiful brick house which still stands on Washington Street at the far west end of town. When a trip to Europe in 1912 in pursuit of a cure for arthritis proved futile, he booked a ticket on the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, but later exchanged his ticket for a first class passage on the Titanic. On April 19, the Crafton family received word that Mr. Crafton's name did not appear on the survivor list. A monument was placed at Rose Hill, Cemetery in Bloomington and bears the inscription "Lost on the Titanic".
Graced with a Carnegie Library
In 1912, a library board was formed, a grant written and in 1914 the new Carnegie library was completed and continues to be a landmark of Roachdale.
In the early 20th century, a local auto mechanic completed a biplane by using a second-hand Maxwell automobile engine. He took the plane to a local farmer's field and was able to become airborne then quickly plumeted into a haystack. Only slightly discouraged he put all of his energies into building race cars for which he was somewhat successful.
Bank Robbery in Roachdale in 1931!
Ten men armed with machine guns and sawed-off shotguns blew the bank safe at 3am, Dec 16. The robbery was very sophisticated, kidnapping the train night operator and telephone operators. The robbers blew up the vault and escaped with $4500. They were never caught but resembled those associated with John Dillinger who robbed a Greencastle bank shortly thereafter.
Wilson's Greenhouse was located 5 miles from Roachdale and was known for their advances in geraniums. In the days before WWI, a geranium was a small flower, usually scarlet or white. With Wilson's development the flower blossomed into a variety of color and sizes.
Roachdale Celebrates the Bicentennial
In 1976 local artists came together in celebration of our nation's 200th birthday. The Roachdale Lumber Company on Railroad Street was a perfect canvas to honor our nation and support the merchants of Roachdale. Even though the Lumber Company was torn down, many of these works of art have been preserved at the Old Meeting House across the street.