Roughly 27 miles east of Bedford and 10 miles west of the I-65 freeway, Brownstown (pop. 2,989) is an unusually pretty Indiana town set around a large central square shaded by 100-year-old maple trees—and a war surplus tank. An old-fashioned general store and a couple of down-home restaurants make it worth a brief stop, particularly during the annual Watermelon Festival in the fall.
East of Brownstown, it’s a scenic 10 miles to Seymour (pop. 18,520), with its many motels (including a Holiday Inn and an EconoLodge), fast-food franchises, 24-hour gas stations, and an absolutely huge Walmart distribution center marking the junction with I-65. Blue-collar Seymour is the birthplace of rock star John Mellencamp and Indiana’s first Miss America (2009 winner Katie Stam). You can get a good feel for the place by stopping for a meal at the Town House Cafe (206 E. 4th St., 812/522-1099).
Twelve miles east of Seymour, turn south from US-50 at neat little North Vernon onto Hwy-7, which runs toward the Ohio River town of Madison, across miles of rolling farmland, closely paralleling the route of Morgan’s Raid, when Gen. John Morgan and 2,000 Confederate soldiers invaded Indiana during the Civil War.